One of the longest standing urban legends in music is that Boyz II Men recorded the famous Chili’s “I Want My Baby Back” jingle. The R&B stars have clarified many times that it wasn’t them, but now the group is adding a new wrinkle to the story: They have recorded a new version of the song, putting their own classic R&B spin on the catchy tune. The music legends spoke with The Root about bringing things full circle with this new partnership, the viral first date debate and their musical legacy.
For years, fans have gone back and forth about whether Boyz II Men were the original “I Want My Baby Back” vocalists. They note that because the jingle first made waves when their album Evolution was released, it made sense that people made that connection, but maintain it wasn’t them. The guys concede that at the time, they were associated with “anything that was acapella.”
“That’s a nice compliment,” Shawn Stockman told The Root. “I guess you could say it was kismet that we’re actually doing it now, because we’re able to actually do what people thought we did decades ago.”
The “MotownPhilly” artists know that partnering with Chili’s is going to put them smack dab in the middle of social media’s ongoing date debate about appropriate restaurants for a first date. However, Stockman asserts that the person you’re with matters much more than where you eat. He’s not wrong. I’d much rather have an awesome date with margaritas and burgers than an awful date at a five-star restaurant. The awkwardness will taint everything else happening around you.
“I don’t care if you have the fanciest restaurant, if the person across from you is a jerk, you ain’t gonna like the date anyway,” he said. “So come to Chili’s, eat some baby back ribs, sing the song and maybe you’ll make a love connection.”
As much fun as the jingle is, it’s also a celebration of the group’s enduring success and popularity. I recently had the pleasure of seeing them perform live and the audience featured all races, ages and genders belting out “End of the Road” at the top of their lungs. From the beginning, this is the legacy the guys always wanted.
“We never wanted to be labeled as an R&B group. We wanted to have the type of music that everybody could enjoy and appreciate because that’s the type of music we love,” Stockman said. “We’re happy that it worked out, because that was the plan. It’s a great blessing to know that the music is being handed down by the kids’ parents, and they’re falling in love with it. We’re very grateful that this has happened the way that it has, it’s playing out great.”
I didn’t know I needed a smooth R&B version of the “I Want My Baby Back” song, but now that I’ve heard Boyz II Men sing it, no one else will do. And just in case you were wondering, they do have a mood setting, love song version coming next.