Backstreet Boys have made a surprise admission about the lyrics of their hit song “I Want It That Way” more than 20 years after it was released.

Band members Nick Carter, Kevin Richardson, AJ McLean, Brian Littrell and Howie Dorough appeared on Watch What Happens Live earlier this week, and a fan asked them the meaning behind the chart-topping song’s famous chorus.

“In your song ‘I Want It That Way,’ why do you sing ‘I never want to hear you say / I want it that way’?” the fan asked, adding: “What way do you not want it to be?”

It was McLean who chimed in, exclaiming: “First of all, the song makes no sense.”

He continued: “There was a completely different version of the song that actually made sense and thankfully we decided to go back to the one that didn’t make sense.

“I don’t think it would’ve been as big as it was, had it made sense.”

“I Want It That Way” was the lead single from the band’s third record, Millennium, which was released in 1999. It was written by Max Martin and Andreas Carlsson.

The song is considered Backstreet Boys’ signature track and topped the charts in more than 25 countries worldwide.

Backstreet Boys will embark on their DNA World Tour, which starts 20 February and runs right through to 9 October.