As we continue celebrating a full “decade of irrelevancy,” we’ll introduce classic content from our formative years. Today, it’s Nada founding father Gabe Baker’s analysis of an early single by the then young-and-hungry Backstreet Boys, which was part of an unfortunately short-lived column called “Highbrow Literary Review.”
Highbrow Literary Review
The Backstreet Boys
By Gabe Baker
Here at Nada Mucho, our goal is to educate as well as entertain. With that in mind this new feature, Highbrow Literary Review, will introduce you, gentle reader, to the wonderful world of poetic verse. We recognize that our audience is composed mostly of dolts. Therefore, we will avoid Shakespeare like the bubonic plague and focus on the Bard’s more accessible modern day counterparts. This first installment examines a poetic gem by Miami’s finest sweater-vest with no t-shirt wearin’ poets, the Backstreet Boys.
Backstreet Boys – “I’ll Never Break Your Heart”
From the first day that I saw your smiling face
Honey I knew that we would be together forever
The first two lines are indicative of the Boys’ expertise in “colloquial diction”. Colloquial diction is defined as a level of language in a work that approximates the speech of ordinary people. Because the Backstreet Boys are from the streets and always keep it real, they are masters of this form.
When I asked you out, you said no, but I found out
This line is an excellent example of “internal rhyme”, or a rhyme within a single line of a poem. Here, the Backstreet Boys cleverly rhyme “asked you out” with “I found out.” Brilliant!
Darling you’d been hurt, you felt that you’d never love again
I deserve a try, honey, just once
Give me a chance, and I’ll prove this all wrong
You walked in you were quick to judge
But honey, he’s nothing like me
The final line in this stanza, “But honey he’s nothing like me”, is crucial as it is highly indicative of the authors’ “persona”. The persona is the voice or figure of the author who tells and structures the story and who may or may not share the values of the actual author. Here, the Backstreet Boys persona is a strong but tender lover, faithful to the end. In this case it appears that the persona in the poem is in fact quite similar to that of the authors, all of whom are dreamy hunks.
I’ll never break your heart
I’ll never make you cry
I’d rather die, then live without you
I’ll give you all of me, honey that’s no lie 2x
Notice how the chorus is repeated many times throughout the song. This repetition indicates that the Boys are following the traditional ballad form. A ballad is a narrative poem that is meant to be sung. Characterized by repetition, ballads were originally a folk creation, transmitted orally from person to person.