Lyric Analysis: Backstreet and 'It's Christmas Time Again'

By special request it’s a Christmas themed lyric analysis!  Backstreet Boys released this holiday gem last year when they were no longer boys but definitely fully men.  So what do Backstreet Men have to say about Christmas?  PLENTY.

I would like to add that nearly every lyric breakdown of this song I found helpfully pointed out which ‘Boy’ sang which lines.  That adds a whole extra dimension to the analysis.  One that lets us delve a lot deeper into the Backstreet Men holiday mindset.

 

"It's Christmas Time Again"
Backstreet Boys

[Nick:]
Frost grows outside the window
First kiss under the mistletoe
Oh Oh, Oh Oh

Let it be said that Nick is perpetually given the most questionable and/or idiotic of lyric lines to croon.  (Remember “Am I sexual?” when he was all of eleven or twelve?)  Frost grows outside the window.  First kiss under the mistletoe.  Generic holiday phrasing at first glance.  But upon pondering I have to doubt that any Boy (except maybe Brian) bothers to wait until the mistletoe is hung to get a first holiday kiss.  Which raises the question of where one draws the line between holiday and non-holiday kissing at all?  On what date do you start counting kisses as holiday ones?  And for this line to be true in any way we then have to picture Nick standing eagerly on the cusp of midnight on the last day of non-holiday time waiting to hang the mistletoe as soon as the clock clicks over to 12:01 so he can “get down get dooooown” (direct quote from Backstreet Boys' 1996 hit ‘Get Down’).  Also, I think the fact that he points out the frost is OUTSIDE the window is significant.  I think last year he left the doors and windows open during the first big freeze and burst the pipes and wreaked all sorts of havoc on his homeowners insurance.  Trust, this is a lyric with meaning.  

Bells chime inside a steeple
Open the doors see the people sing
Oh Oh, Oh Oh

This reminds me of that hand clasp game you used to play when you were a kid.  You know, fold your hands so your fingers are inside and then form a steeple with your index fingers before opening your hands to reveal all the other fingers while saying “This is the church, this is the steeple, open the doors, here’s all the people”.  Which is so perfect to give Nick to sing, right?  He’s definitely the holy one.  Or anyway he’s at least still the youngest.  Nursery rhymes are his forté.

[Kevin:]
And when the snow is falling down, down, down
You know that Santa's back in town, town, town
That's when it's Christmas time again

Let’s pause to appreciate that this lyric marks the first time Kevin had provided vocals for the Boys in six years.  They marked the occasion with the choice to boldly rhyme ‘down’ with ‘town’.  The three-peat of each word is actually an effective example of epizeuxis or palilogia repetition.  I know, right?  You thought it was lazy writing.  Not so.  It’s a technique used frequently by Shakespeare in works like Macbeth (“O horror, horror horror”) and Hamlet (“Words, words, words”).  Though it’s also important to note that Backstreet Men, much like Backstreet Boys, do not believe it’s Christmas time until Santa is back in town.  So... there’s that.

[All:]
La da la da da da da, la da la da la la, it's Christmas time again!
La da la da da da da, la da la da la la, it's Christmas time again!

Either they are rhyming the same line with itself or this is lyric repetition.  On my first analysis outing NSync taught us much about repetition.  Let’s give the Boys the benefit of the doubt and assume they’re employing the masculine rhyming technique (in which the emphasis falls on the last syllable - for purposes of argument we’ll say the last word) and a very literal and unspecific form of repetition for emphasis.

[Brian:]
I've been checking my list twice
Got plans to give you your gift tonight
Oh Oh, Oh Oh

This is a double entendre of the very best kind.  See, it’s Brian singing the lyric and he’s always struck me as the most wholesome of all the Boys.  Perhaps the fact that he is also a contemporary Christian recording artist in his non-BSB career helps this impression.  He doesn’t have an addiction spiral backstory or illegitimate kids at concert stops along the 'Millennium' tour route.  He has a long-term wife, a kid, a non-profit organization that helps children suffering heart conditions, and a Christian recording career.  So when Brian sings that he’s checking his list twice and plans to give his girl a gift tonight, I am literally envisioning a paper list and a brightly-wrapped gift box containing something thoughtful and not at all full of innuendo.  Possibly slippers.  But in any other hands (AJ’s most notably) this is the dirtiest lyric ever.  I bet you have plans to give her a gift tonight.  Right?  Wink wink nudge nudge.  Know what I mean?  Check your list.  Gather all your items.  (Handcuffs, riding crop, lube...) Give her that gift.  Yeah, baby!  Diiiiirrrrtttty.... except then it’s Brian.  So.  Slipper socks it is.  Yay?

[AJ:]
Wake up under a lit tree
One wish came true you're here with me

Thank god for AJ.  This is cleverly worded so it sounds generically festive but if you re-arrange the words in your mind you’ll understand the true meaning.  People are lit under a tree.  Together.  And that is all you need to know about this lyric.  (Brian’s not involved.)

Oh Oh, Oh Oh
Yeah

AJ also historically has a lot of “mmmm yeah uh huh” to his lyrics.  Yeah?  Did you get it?  Mmmmm yeaaaaah baby.  Uh huh.  Get doooown.  Moving on.

[All:]
And when the snow is falling down, down, down
You know that Santa's back in town, town, town

Snow falls down.  Down.  Down.  Santa’s back in .... you know, this raises an important question.  Parents, when is the right time to tell your children Santa isn’t real?  I mean I assume before they’re of legal drinking age.  Am I wrong in thinking that, though?  I don’t want to be the one to crush the Boys and Scrooge their Christmas, is what I’m saying.  

[AJ:]
That's when it's Christmas time again

Well actually I’m pretty sure Christmas is about more than Santa and snow, AJ.  Sit here beside me and let’s watch ‘How the Grinch Stole Christmas’ together.  Don’t sit that close.  Okay when we’re done tell me if you learned any particular lessons from the movie.  

Nope, there’s nothing sexy in this movie.  Were you watching the same movie I was?  Let’s watch it again.  Really pay attention this time.  And also don’t sit so close.

[All:]
La da la da da da da, la da la da la la, it's Christmas time again!
La da la da da da da, la da la da la la, it's Christmas time again!

Lyric sites can’t agree on whether they’re singing “la da la da” or “ta ta ta ta” so I’ve included both at various points in this analysis.  I personally think it’s much more hilarious to think they’re singing “ta ta”.  For reasons of immaturity.  Look, I just watched the Grinch twice with AJ so I’m basically bent now.  

[Howie:]
And when the snow is falling down, down, down
You know that Santa's back in town, town, town
That's when it's Christmas time again

Howie.  The forgotten Boy.  I’m so pleased he got a lyric of his own.  Even if it’s a Kevin hand-me-down.

[All:]
La da la da da da da, la da la da la la, it's Christmas time again!
La da la da da da da, la da la da la la, it's Christmas time again!

[Nick:]
I give you, I give you my heart
Yeah, it's Christmas

The “I give you, I give you my heart” and “Yeah, it’s Christmas” are sung overtop of the chorus by Nick which honestly gives the whole thing a sort of lounge-y feel.  Like he’s gone off book and is wandering the edge of the stage making sexy faces at women in the crowd.  I don’t dislike it, I just think it gives more credence to the AJ version of the gift lyric than the Brian one.  

[All:]
Ta ta ta ta, it's Christmas time again!
Ta ta ta ta, it's Christmas time again!

[Nick:]
I've been bad
I've been good
I've been everything I should

This is meant to be super sexual.  You guys, he’s bad and good!  Grrrrrowl.  But as it specifically references Santa’s reported tendency to maintain two lists - one of ‘naughty’ kids and one of ‘nice’ kids - what it really does is reinforce the earlier declarations that it isn’t Christmas until Santa gets to town.  Further it presents as problematic because according to legend one is supposed to either be on the naughty list and therefore get nothing for Christmas or the nice list and therefore get whatever the heart desires.  Being both is kind of like achieving the ultimate neutrality.  They cancel each other out.  Instead of getting nothing or everything you actually cease to exist.

[All:]
Ta ta ta ta, it's Christmas time again!
Ta ta ta ta, it's Christmas time again!

See how awesome it is when they’re talking about tatas?  
Fine.  Just forget it.

[Nick:]
I've been bad
I've been good
And you know that I do what I should!

Seriously.  This is actually an epic lyric.  You know that he does what he should in terms of being very bad.  He’s just doing what he should, baby.  Wink wink.  And my god he’s good at it.  So he’s still being both bad and good but now instead of canceling each other out the conundrum is answering his own earlier question: is he sexual?  (Hint: the answer is ‘yes’.)  Merry Christmas indeed!

[All:]
La da la da da da da, la da la da la la, it's Christmas time again!
La da la da da da da, la da la da la la, it's Christmas time again!

- Corinne Simpson