The world could really use a hot Backstreet Boys single. It’s been a damn long time now since anyone really represented for the old-fashioned pop group—not counting Maroon 5, who we think are still technically a band—on the pop charts, and a good song by the group that started it all (for this generation, anyway, or maybe it’s the last one already) could go a long way towards bringing it back. And to their credit, BSB appear to really be trying with new song “Lost in Space,” a Jim Jonsin-produced electro-pop number fairly in step with current pop music, though if their efforts are good enough to resurrect their pop standing may be another story.
Things start out promisingly, as the first verse is sung in an interestingly ethereal, spacey falsetto that sounds legitimately weightless—intriguing, not to mention appropriate for the song’s zero-gravity themes (“How did we get here? / It feels like I’m floating off the gorund”). And the song’s beat, in the future-pop mold of “Boom Boom Pow”-era Black Eyed Peas, is funky enough to inspire minor reflexive popping and locking, with the old-school-style synth hook proving especially catchy.
Unfortunately, as the song reaches its obligatory Guetta-like break section, the inanity of the lyrics begins to overpower the music, keeping it permanently earthbound. “As the world goes round round round round / And the beat goes down down down down”—whatever that has to do with anything. The chorus is even slighter, based around the similarly confusing hook of “We don’t need no rocket to get lost in space.” (So getting lost in space is good now? They didn’t seem to think so in the ’60s.)
Of course, far better pop songs have been written around less logical hooks—”I Want It That Way” never made that much sense either, when you think about it—but the music sags in the derivative chorus, as well. The whole thing is sung along the same monotonous note, which makes it sound eerily similar to Kevin Rudolf’s “Let it Rock,” until it gets to the “Lost–in space, lost-lost-in space” part at the end, which is lifted pretty directly from the “free his mind at night, ay-ay-at night” end to the chorus of Kid Cudi’s “Day ‘n’ Nite.” Trying to sound like a modern pop artist is OK, but ripping a couple of them off is less so.
Unfortunately, despite some pretty cool parts, we’d be pretty surprised if this was the song that returned BSB to the Top 40. Kiddie boy and girl groups, you might be on your own with this one.