Flashback: ‘N Sync by ‘N Sync

Can you believe more than 20 years have passed since ‘N Sync released their debut album? The group had three global smashes (‘N Sync, No Strings Attached and Celebrity). Despite their success, they disbanded.

Justin’s career skyrocketed. His first three records pulled in huge numbers and was surrounded with critical acclaim. Now, he’s experienced a setback. He’s been hounded by years of “alleged” cultural appropriation, indifference towards political issues, and flack over the Janet Jackson Super Bowl catching up with him.

The other members have had less luck in their solo outing. Recently, they’ve had better airtime in the Super Bowl department thanks to Ariana Grande.

Now, let’s focus on the record that started it all. Their self titled album launched ‘N Sync to the top of the charts. It cemented their position in boy band history as a force to be reckoned with.

While writing this piece, I came across three interesting facts:

  • Chris Kirkpatrick was a reject of the Backstreet Boys. In North America, ‘N Sync would eventually beat the group in sales and acclaim.
  • Originally, Lance Bass was not part of the band. Last minute, Jason Galasso pulled out and Lance replaced him. They kept the name “N Sync” which stood for the last letter of their first names (JustiN, ChriS, JoeY, JasoN, and JC). This is despite the fact that the last letter of Lance’s name did not fit the bill.
  • The American group first made it big in Germany. A year after the debut’s initial release in Europe, USA would get the ‘N Sync fever.

The album is certified Diamond, indicating shipment of 10 million units in the USA. In the last decade, only Adele’s albums have managed to achieve this feat.

“I Want You Back”, “Tearing Up My Heart” and “I Need Love” are unforgettable classics. Back in the day, these tracks were the background songs for aspiring artists dancing in baggy clothing and competing in a variety show for a chance at fame. The tunes give a rush of nostalgia every time speakers play them – the radio doing classics, the club doing a throwback, or a party getting people fired up by tapping on to their past memories. The sound comes across as cute and funny. But those two adjectives can’t take away how awesome the singles are.

The album relied on covers. The band had rendition of classics by Boston (“More Than a Feeling”), Bread (“Everything I Own”) and Christopher Cross (“Sailing”)I’m a big hater of revivals. Something about them comes across as lazy and uninspired. BUT… I found their version of “Sailing” decent. At first, I even thought the version was an original. Go ahead! Sue me for my lack of knowledge at music history.

If their ballads were released today, half the critic population puke. They are cheesy and makes the refined version of yourself cringe. I can just imagine quotes like “God must have spent little time on the talents of these boys”. But we are suckers for romance and basic at our core. “God Must Have Spent a Little More Time on You” and “I Drive Myself Crazy” are precious creations that hold a special place in our delicate hearts.

For an uncelebrated album, ‘N Sync is tolerable from start to finish. No one expected the record to be a cultural milestone. Even today, there is no change to the narrative surrounding it. But it stands the test of time. It has done a job most of their solo efforts couldn’t fulfill.


Album Playlist Link:

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