There is just something about a crowd of strangers bursting out into a famous ’90s song that brings people closer together.
Where you’re going and where you’ve been mean nothing for one perfect moment as everyone comes together in musical commonality.
Passengers on a New York City subway shared a brief moment of happy unity when they started singing a Backstreet Boys tune during an evening ride.
Joel Wertheimer, a civil rights attorney and passenger, said he was riding the subway on June 16 when a shirtless man walked into the train car, carrying a speaker.
“Had a really tough week and tonight I was on the subway and some guy walks between train cars, shirtless, bumping a speaker,” Wertheimer wrote on Twitter.
“I wasn’t in the mood for Showtime particularly. But sometimes people and life surprise you and a little magic happens.”
Had a really tough week and tonight I was the subway and some guy walks between train cars, shirtless, bumping a speaker. I wasn’t in the mood for Showtime particularly. But sometimes people and life surprise you and a little magic happens. pic.twitter.com/S7o4282SOS
— Joel Wertheimer (@Wertwhile) June 17, 2019
Wertheimer posted a video of what happened on the subway that night — a crowd of strangers simultaneously bursting into song, belting out the familiar chorus to Backstreet Boys’ famed 1999 song, “I Want It That Way.”
The impromptu subway choir was a bit quiet at first, Wertheimer recalled, and then grew with intensity as the chorus drew near.
“Everybody was mumbling the words at first and then it just sort of crescendoed,” Wertheimer told TIME.
“Joyful is the best word I have for it.”
The video has been viewed more than 2.5 million times, and even caught the eyes of the Backstreet Boys, who were thrilled that their song brought strangers together.
We live for moments like this ?? https://t.co/30ghKwteA5
— Backstreet Boys (@backstreetboys) June 18, 2019
“We live for moments like this,” the band wrote on Twitter, reposting the video clip.
In the aftermath of the viral video, Wertheimer seized the opportunity to invite people to donate to the Coalition For The Homeless, writing, “Not everybody on the train in New York is so lucky.”
Given the monotonous and sometimes dangerous underground commute, the Backstreet Boys and a herd of strangers managed to bring joy and nostalgia into an unlikely space, making a memorable moment for everyone involved.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.