Can you believe it has been more than 20 years since ‘N Sync released their debut album? Since then, the group has released three global smashes. They have disbanded. Justin Timberlake’s career skyrocketed to commercial and critical acclaim. It is now experiencing a backlash after years of alleged cultural appropriation, indifference towards political issues, and not getting his fair share of the flack over the Janet Jackson Super Bowl controversy. The other members have had less luck in their solo endeavors (unless you count JC Chasez’ “All Day Long I Dream About Sex” as success)
But let’s forget about everything in between and focus on the record that started it all. Their self titled album launched ‘N Sync to the top of the charts and cemented their position in boy band history as one its top artists.
While writing this piece, there were three interesting facts I found that I thought were worth sharing:
- Chris Kirkpatrick was a reject of the Backstreet Boys. At some point, ‘N Sync would beat the band who rejected one of its members.
- Originally, Lance Bass was not part of the group. At the last minute, Jason Galasso pulled out and Lance replaced him. They kept the name “N Sync” (JustiN, ChriS, JoeY, JasoN, and JC) 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. It was almost a year after the debut album’s initial release in Europe that USA would be able to get a hold of ‘N Sync.
It is impressive to note that this is certified Diamond, indicating sales of 10 million units in the USA. For perspective, in the last decade, only Adele’s albums have managed to notch that feat.
“I Want You Back”, “Tearing Up My Heart” and “I Need Love” are boy band classics you will never get out of your head. These are the tracks aspiring artists danced to in baggy clothing decades ago. And they will certainly give you a rush of nostalgia every time they plays on the speakers. We can call it cute and funny. But there’s no way your conscience can deny they are awesome.
The album relied heavily on covers. It featured their rendition of classics by Boston (“More Than a Feeling”), Bread (“Everything I Own”) and Christopher Cross (“Sailing”). Now, I’m a big hater of revivals. There’s something about them that come across as lazy and uninspired. BUT… I will say I found their version of “Sailing” pretty decent. Go ahead! Sue me!
If their ballads were released today, it would make half the critic population puke. It’s too cheesy and will make the refined version of yourself cringe. I can just imagine the headline going “God must have spent little time on the talent of these boys”. But we are all suckers for romance and basic things. “God Must Have Spent a Little More Time on You” and “I Drive Myself Crazy” are precious. I have no problem getting in a fight with people who believe otherwise.
For such an uncelebrated album, it’s pretty listenable from start to finish. No one expected it to be a cultural milestone during its time and no one expects it to be today. But it stands the test of time. It does the job that most of their solo efforts couldn’t do.
Album Playlist Link: