Thursday, August 26, 2010

Boy Bands Part IV: *NSYNC

Today's Boy Band spotlight shines on the biggest rivals to the Backstreet Boys in the late 1990s: NSYNC. They were a lot more popular and I've tried to figure out why. Based on music videos, they seemed to have more fun and their personalities were much more animated than the Backstreet Boys. I thought "Tearin' Up My Heart" was an okay pop song and I liked the World War II themed music video for "God Must Have Spent A Little More Time on You." The single that made me take notice, though, was "I Drive Myself Crazy" because the melody sounded very similar to the Thai music that my mother used to listen to when I was a young child in the 1970s.

If you watch the music videos of NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys, you can definitely see the difference between the two bands. The Backstreet Boys are serious while NSYNC's sense of humour and love of having fun comes through. A good music video that shows NSYNC in their element is their Christmas song "Merry Christmas."

In 2000, they came out with their second album, which was the much anticipated follow-up to their hit parade debut album. In their follow-up, they played with certain ideas, such as their being puppets on a string or mere plastic dolls marketed to girls. I don't know if they actually came out with dolls like the New Kids on the Block did, but their awesome music video "It's Gonna Be Me" has a lot of fun with the idea. I love this song as well as "Bye Bye Bye," which has a very Hollywood mini-movie style to it. They were definitely aiming higher.

After the second album, the most popular member of the band went on to solo success. That would be Justin Timberlake, the Robbie Williams of this Boy Band. His debut solo album Justified found some success, but it wasn't until Lovesounds / Futuresex that he found critical success and even greater fame. He has also found acting roles in movies (Richard Kelly's dreadful Southland Tales is one of them), dated Cameron Diaz, became an extremely popular host of Saturday Night Live (making one of the most hilarious music video skits of all time: "Dick in a Box"), and collaborated with others on music projects (such as his song and video with Madonna, "4 Minutes."). There's no doubt that Justin Timberlake is an extremely talented guy. He was part of Disney Channel's Mickey Mouse Club in the early 1990s, which included Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and actor Ryan Gosling. Justin and Britney were a couple for a brief period, but I get the impression that he was only dating her to take her virginity and once that mission was accomplished, he moved on and Britney went crazy.

Not to be overshadowed, two other NSYNC bandmates have found some attention for themselves. Lance Bass famously came out of the closet and dated the winner of the reality show The Amazing Race, Reichen Lemkuhl. He also wanted to buy his way into space through the Russian space program (which was desperate for money that they allowed multi-millionaires to pay millions for the opportunity to travel into space with the cosmonauts), but that seemed to fall through. JC Chasez recorded a solo album, called Schizophernia, which was supposedly all over the map on music styles and did not sell well.

While the Backstreet Boys seems to have taken their singing careers seriously and continue to record albums and go on tour, NSYNC was a short, fun ride and followed the advice of Take That's "Never Forget". They enjoyed themselves while it lasted, before the spotlight moved on to other groups. At least we can expect to see Justin Timberlake in the spotlight for years to come. His talent is undeniable and his star quality is such that very few stars these days can match. Its amazing to reflect that he once performed on the 80s show Star Search, singing a country song. He's so urban / hip-hop that I can't imagine him in the restricted confines of the country music genre. I hope he will continue to record more songs like his brilliant "What Goes Around."

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