He’s one of the most idolized musicians in showbiz, but on Saturday night, Drake turned up to the Backstreet Boys’ Toronto, Ontario, concert and revealed that it was the boy band’s 1999 smash, “I Want It That Way” that helped him feel “cool” and “acknowledged” for the first time.
The boy band were performing the second of two shows at the Budweiser Stage when the 35-year Toronto native hit the stage.
As the crowd roared with applause, the “Hotline Bling” singer explained how he had run into band member Kevin Richardson prior to the DNA World Tour show and told him the story of how the quintet impacted him during his youth.
“I really wanted to come out here tonight,” he told the audience in a video posted on social media by band member Howie Dorough’s wife Leigh. “I saw my brother at a restaurant the other night and I was telling him that when I was in high school … actually I wasn’t in high school, I was in junior high. I was 13-years-old and I was an awkward kid and I was in love with this girl at the time.”
The singer then shared that while his crush didn’t appear interested, everything changed thanks to “I Want It That Way.”
What’s better than I Want It That Way?
— Backstreet Boys (@backstreetboys) July 3, 2022
“At 13-years-old, I had a thing called a bar mitzvah and at my bar mitzvah, for the first time in my life, this girl who I was in love with came up to me while one of the greatest songs in the world was playing,” he said. “She asked me if I would dance with her and it was the first time I ever felt acknowledged.”
“It was the first time I ever felt like I had a shot at being cool,” Drake continued. “And the song she wanted to dance with me to was one of the greatest songs of all time. It’s one of the greatest songs ever made.”
The singer then quipped, “And by the way – if she could see me now!”
The deafening applause continued as Drake introduced the track, co-written by Swedish hitmakers Max Martin and Andreas Carlsson.
“Toronto, I want you to make some noise and I want you to sing this song as loud as you possibly can,” he said. “Like I said, this is one of the greatest songs in music history. I’ll be on stage for it and I’ll try and sing along, too. It’s called, ‘I Want It That Way.’”
Standing in the middle of Richardson, Dorough, Nick Carter, Brian Littrell and AJ McLean, Drake helped the group belt out the hit, singing the opening verses with them before strutting some boy band moves.
As the track neared its end, Dorough performed a snippet of Drake’s 2013 smash, “Hold On, We’re Going Home,” as the musician watched on beaming and encouraging him. “I like that!” he enthused.
Clearly a fanboy, Drake even helped the group take their final bow before they left the stage prior to their encore.
The surprise cameo left fans stunned. “I am shooketh,” tweeted long-time #bsbarmy member Gemma.
“Drake is out there living every millennial girl’s dream with the BSB,” wrote another concert-goer.
Another fan meanwhile tweeted: “I don’t know what this is, but BSB were my childhood bfs and Drake is my adult bf, so this is some sort of dream come true LMAO.”
— MuchMusic (@Much) July 3, 2022
The joint performance comes after Drake paid homage to the “I Want It That Way” video in his 2021 video for “Way 2 Sexy” from Certified Lover Boy.
A few years prior, the Backstreet Boys took to social media to humorously point out that before Drake’s “Hotline Bling” there was their own phone call song, “The Call.”
“Not to cause any beef @Drake… but before there was Hotline Bling… there was The Call. ☎️😉,” they tweeted.
Not to cause any beef @Drake… but before there was Hotline Bling… there was The Call. ☎️😉
— Backstreet Boys (@backstreetboys) October 23, 2015
The group will return to Canada for DNA World Tour concerts in Vancouver, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg and Ottawa, Quebec City and Montreal in August and September.
“God, Canada’s so beautiful! Carter told ET Canada ahead of resuming the tour. “There are so many memories, from starting out in Montreal and Toronto and being out there a lot before we were big in America. I love it up there and we have great fans and incredible memories.”
— Julia Grace Lennox (@_julialennox) July 3, 2022