“I Want You Back,” “Tearin’ Up My Heart,” “Bye Bye Bye”
Who Are They?
The boy band that provided some healthy competition to the Backstreet Boys (and spawned multi-talented megababe Justin Timberlake).
Chris Kirkpatrick, like many talented young men, missed the cut for the Backstreet Boys in 1995, so he met up with producer Lou Pearlman to form a second boy band. Lou agreed to finance the group, but only if Chris found the rest of the members himself.
Joey Fatone joined the group after getting a call from Chris, but the two ran out of possible bandmates fairly quickly. Lou suggested Mickey Mouse Club heartthrob Justin Timberlake, and Justin suggested his buddy JC Chanez. Once Jason Galasso joined the group, ‘N Sync was complete.
(Fun fact: ‘N Sync got its name from a combination of two things: Justin’s mother commented on how “in sync” everyone sounded, and the name is a play on the last letter of each of the original members’ names—JustiN, ChriS, JoeY, JasoN and JC.)
If you’re wondering who the hell Jason Galasso is, it’s because he left the group before recording even began, citing the ridiculous teen idol lifestyle as a major concern (as in he didn’t want any part of it). Lance Bass took his place.
After constant rehearsing and promotion, ‘N Sync scored a record deal with BMG Ariola Munich and released its self-titled debut in 1997. The boys became a big hit in Germany, and were eventually signed to RCA the following year.
‘N Sync’s first American single was “I Want You Back,” but it was “Tearin’ Up My Heart” that made them pop radio mainstays. Constant touring an appearances on Janet Jackson’s Velvet Rope Tour and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch helped *NSYNC sell more than 10 million copies.
Meanwhile, ‘N Sync entered into a heated legal battle with Lou Pearlman, claiming he and his record company defrauded the group of more than 50 percent of its earnings. Lou and RCA countersued after ‘N Sync threatened to leave the label, but the two parties reached a settlement and the boys eventually signed to Jive.
Where Are They Now?
Officially over (but after their one-off reunion performance, I can retain some hope).
With their legal trouble behind them, ‘N Sync began to work on their second album, No Strings Attached, released in 2000. The first single, “Bye Bye Bye,” became the group’s most popular song (though I guess that’s debatable depending on how much of an ‘N Sync fangirl you
|Marionette Justin's cold, dead eyes|
(courtesy of my Instagram)
(Fun fact: Like with most teen sensations in the ‘90s, ‘N Sync had a shit ton of merchandise to its name. No Strings Attached in particular spawned an entire line of marionette dolls, which people actually bought. And by people, I mean me. I had a Justin Timberlake marionette doll that is still in my basement. It’s creepy as hell.)
‘N Sync’s third (and final) album, Celebrity, dropped just one year later, but didn’t sell nearly as well as the first two records. By April 2002, the group went on an unofficial hiatus, with Justin embarking on his incredibly successful solo career. It wasn’t until 2007 that Lance admitted ‘N Sync was done for good.
With Justin riding wave after wave of solo success, everyone else decided to go their separate ways.
JC went solo as well, releasing his first album, Schizophrenic, in 2004. After leaving Jive Records, JC decided to work behind the scenes for other artists, writing and producing songs for David Archuleta and, ironically enough, the Backstreet Boys. JC will also play Pontius Pilate in the upcoming North American tour of Jesus Christ Superstar.
Chris appeared on the CMT show Gone Country 2 in 2008 and shocked the hell out of just about everyone by proving he could write some decent country songs. He also makes a nice living by being a voice actor. You may know him as the voice of Chip Skylark on The Fairly Oddparents.
Joey has been busy hosting The Singing Bee and The Price Is Right Live!, along with being the announcer on Family Feud. He’s also played lead roles in Rent, Little Shop of Horrors and The Producers on Broadway.
Lance decided to leave the planet after ‘N Sync went on hiatus (or at least he tried). He was certified by both NASA and the Russian Space Program as an astronaut, but after his financial sponsors backed out, Lance was denied a seat on the mission to the International Space Station. Lance also started his own production company, A Happy Place (later renamed Bacon & Eggs), in 2001. He has since produced a couple of documentaries, and even created a new boy band called Heart2Heart.
‘N Sync reunited for a one-off performance at the 2013 VMAs, but Lance said the group currently doesn’t have any plans for a new album or tour.
But Why ‘N Sync?
Because my inner pre-teen got way too excited for that VMA performance (and ultimately way too disappointed when Lance confirmed that the reunion wasn’t permanent).
What Does Sam Think?
Unpopular (?) opinion: I liked ‘N Sync more than the Backstreet Boys.
There. I said it. I got so much shit for this as a kid (kids in the ‘90s were mean when it came to their favorite boy bands), but I don’t even care.
Now I guess I have to back this up. Okay, so if you take a peak at my Backstreet Boys entry, you’ll notice that I did, in fact, like the Backstreet Boys as a kid. But I do believe that ‘N Sync was my first favorite “band” (even before Creed).
Granted, most of my obsession with this group stemmed from my huge crush on Justin Timberlake (and that’s still true), but after reliving my own childhood by giving No Strings Attached another listen, I realized why I liked these guys so much.
‘N Sync had some strange production, especially on the latter two albums. Lots of weird noises, lots of vocal effects and lots of dance beats. In terms of the number of danceable tracks, I think ‘N Sync had the Backstreet Boys beat. The latter was more into ballads, and while those do make all the young girls swoon, I always preferred the more upbeat tracks. Despite appearances, I was a pretty happy child.
Though I was hypnotized by the sugary sweet catchiness of ‘N Sync’s brand of pop, I still wouldn’t compare them to more advanced pop idols like Michael Jackson or Madonna. Yeah, these boys had nice voices and sick dance moves, but they weren’t particularly revolutionary in terms of popular music. Justin has since become essentially a white version of Michael Jackson, but ‘N Sync was far from groundbreaking.
But that’s okay! Like I mentioned in the Backstreet Boys entry, there’s nothing wrong with boy bands. They’re part of everyone’s life (yes, even One Direction). So when you hear “Bye Bye Bye” at a bar this weekend, don’t be ashamed of knowing all the words (and drunkenly screaming them on karaoke).
-- Sam Boyer, reporting from the ‘90s.