15 years ago yesterday, N'Sync shot into the pop culture stratosphere by selling $2.4 million copies in the first week. Did the song hold up?
The late 1990s were a magical time for pop boybands. TRL was a driving force on MTV and the host Carson Daly was able to interact with some zealous fans. Anyone remember super fan Tiffany?
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And exactly 15 years ago today, N'Sync released No Strings Attached. NSA was a long-time coming album since the group had to detangle from Lou Pearlman, a music manager that also represented The Backstreet Boys and turned out to be a crook.
Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, Lance Bass, Joey Fatone, and Chris Kirkpatrick shattered predictions in the first week, selling 2.4 million records--a still-held record in fact.
Boyband mania was at its peak in 2000. "Bye Bye Bye" and Wade Robson created a juggernaut of a dance move that everyone tried to copy on TRL. Not to mention the nod in the video to Jamiroquai’s walking in a box scene and cutting their own marionettes.
And those paychecks Jive Records dished to producers Teddy Riley (“Just Got Paid”), Richard Marx (“This I Promise You”), and Veit Renn (“Digital Get Down”) didn’t go to waste. Plus, the clever video for “It’s Gonna Be Me” by Wayne Isham involved the band looking like their own fashion dolls and breaking out of their pre-packaged boxes.
No Strings Attached was a way for the all-male band to rebrand and update the sound from the European pop of the self-titled album, reaching a little grittier element (but not much). And let it be known that they were charge of their career.
If you're unsure of how similar yet different the musical content is, check out “Giddy Up” and “Digital Get Down.” DGD pretty much chronicled video cyber and phone sex with a snazzy beat while “Giddy Up” told some to “ride it, ride it, ride it” over a bouncy pop tune.
No String Attached managed to encompass a lot of disconnecting sounds, but captivated audiences. Ballads like “This I Promise You” and “If She Only Knew” (Robin Wiley) showed a softer side, a more romantic element to the band that didn’t involve cheesy ramen-noodle hair.
And the songs somehow worked with and not against the more upbeat production of “It Makes Me Ill” by Kandi Burruss (Xscape, Real Housewives of Atlanta) and Kevin “She'kspeare” Briggs.
After the group disbanded, Justin Timberlake found fame as a solo artist with hits like “Like I Love You” and “Bringing Sexy Back.” But on No Strings Attached he and JC fought out who would get the solos and most notes on a song. Justin usually won.
Among the sings, most of the writing credits go to Chasez, though. He worked on "Space Cowboy (Yippie-Yi-Yay)", "No Strings Attached", "Digital Get Down", and "Bringin' da Noise.” Timberlake was part of the process for the ballad “I’ll Be Good For You.” Of course, Chasez had Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes on his track, so.
Fan girls ripped and gnashed their teeth when N’Sync fell to the Backstreet Boys or the divas of pop (Britney, Christina, Mandy Moore). The movement was strong for the band to succeed. And there was a lot of hyperventilation when the singers should up to the TRL studio in Times Square.
While a lot of the songs are dated, the ingenuity of personal direction and decision to fight against a smart, well-connected manager can’t be forgotten. In 2000, No Strings Attached singles were “Bye Bye Bye”, “It’s Gonna Be Me”, “I’ll Never Stop”, and “This I Promise You.”
Maybe it’s a good year to regroup, guys. For a couple promotional scenes. Come on, the fan girls are all grown up and chasing NKOTB, anyway!
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Happy 15th anniversary, No Strings Attached and N’Sync.