From the top: Joey Fatone, Justin Timberlake, Chris Kirkpatrick, Lance Bass, JC Chasez
I wanna see you out that door...
Think of late '90s/early '00s pop music, and chances are that one of your thoughts will be of *NSYNC.With one successful Boy Band under his belt, Lou Pearlman sought to strike gold twice. In 1995, Pearlman approached Chris Kirkpatrick (age 23), an employee of Universal Studios Orlando and singer for the a cappella group, The Hollywood Hi-Tones, to form a vocal group in the same vein as the Backstreet Boys. Chris called up Justin Timberlake (age 14), an alumnus of the 1990s revival of The Mickey Mouse Club, whom he'd met at various auditions around Orlando. Justin then called JC Chasez (age 19), his former castmate on MMC. Chris and JC invited Joey Fatone (age 18), a mutual acquaintance, after running into him at a club. Chris and Joey met while working at Universal Studios, Joey as the Wolfman in the Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue. JC and Joey, meanwhile, were old friends and attended high school together during JC's time on MMC. Joey then recruited Jason Galasso, the bass singer of his high school a cappella group.Sometime later, the group was set for a live showcase at Pleasure Island in Orlando and started negotiations with Pearlman's label, Trans Continental Records. Galasso suddenly dropped out a few weeks before the showcase, unhappy with the group's direction, and left the others scrambling to find a replacement. Justin eventually called his old vocal coach in search of a bass singer, who recommended a kid from Mississippi named Lance Bass (age 16). October 1, 1995, *NSYNC officially formed.The showcase was filmed and sent out to record labels and they got signed to Trans Con. Pearlman brought in Johnny Wright, manager of the Backstreet Boys, to manage NSYNC. They got the attention of RCA Records and its parent company, BMG Entertainment. However, the label had a few stipulations before signing the group; they wanted to change the name and get rid of Lance, whom they felt wasn't at the same level as the other four. They fought for their name and for Lance and after some negotiating they were signed to BMG Germany.They got sent to Sweden to begin work on their first album. Their first single, "I Want You Back" was released on October 7, 1996 and they set off on a whirlwind tour of Europe. Their debut album, 'N Sync, was released May 26, 1997 and reached number one in Germany by it's second week. They released several other singles, such as "Tearin' Up My Heart", "Here We Go", and "For The Girl Who Has Everything", before getting the attention of Vincent DeGiorgio, an A&R rep for RCA. They were eventually signed to RCA Records and began retooling their album for the US market.They released "I Want You Back" in the US on January 20, 1998, which charted moderately well. Their reworked album, featuring an altered tracklist including newly recorded songs and now titled *NSYNC, was released March 24 the same year. The album floundered for a bit, but they soon received their big break by way of, funnily enough, the Backstreet Boys, who bowed out of a concert special for the Disney Channel. The offer was then given to NSYNC. The special was just what the group needed; after its initial airing (and subsequent reairings) *NSYNC shot up through the Billboard charts and they suddenly found themselves in high demand. They made several television appearances, including a Christmas special for the Disney Channel and a spot in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, recorded a Christmas album, Home for Christmas, which went multi-platinum, and after some time opening for Janet Jackson's Velvet Rope World Tour, set off on their own headlining tour in the US.By 1999, NSYNC had successfully broken into the US market. They were also being severely overworked. Their Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now Tour was still in full swing and they began work on their next album while also filming for television specials and making various other public appearances. In May of 1999, Lance collapsed following the filming of Summer Jam, a televised concert on ABC, and it was discovered that he had a mild heart condition. It was around this time that NSYNC discovered they were getting gipped by their management; despite their touring and their two albums having gone platinum, they were only taking in about $25,000 for the year. In September 1999, they announced they were breaking their contract with RCA and Trans Con and signing on to Jive Records.NSYNC was then embroiled in a nasty legal battle for the next 3 months. BMG and Trans Con filed a $150 million lawsuit against NSYNC and Jive for breach of contract, intending to prevent the group from moving to Jive and releasing anything under the name NSYNC. The group counter-sued for $25 million, based on a clause in their original contract with RCA which stated that their first album was to be released in the US within a certain time frame; not only was the time frame not met, but the fact that they were first released in Germany was technically a violation of the contract. The suit was settled out of court and by December 1999 NSYNC finalized their move to Jive Records. For those curious, the percentages Pearlman was receiving from the group: 55% gross and 37.5% net of both touring revenue and celebrity endorsements, 75% record royalties, 80% merchandising, and 100% music publishing.NSYNC continued their work on their next album, releasing the single "Bye Bye Bye" in January of 2000. The song was a hit and further solidified the group as a pop mainstay. Their third album, No Strings Attached, was released on March 21, 2000. It went platinum on its first day and by the end of the week sold a record 2.42 million. Curiously, their next single, "It's Gonna Be Me", would be their only #1 Billboard hit. In May 2000, they embarked on their No Strings Attached Tour, the making of having been documented on the MTV special "Making the Tour" and the tour's stop at Madison Square Garden recorded and broadcast on HBO.They took a break in early 2001, during which Lance and Joey filmed the movie On the Line, which was critically panned. Their break was short lived and they began recording their next album, with Lance and Joey still in the midst of filming. Their single, "Pop", was released in May 2001 and they set off on a stadium tour, titled the PopOdyssey Tour, months before the release of their album. Celebrity was released on July 24, 2001 and despite selling substantially less than the previous album, still sold a record 1.88 million its first week.In March 2002 they embarked on the second leg of their PopOdyssey Tour, rebranded the Celebrity Tour, after which they went on hiatus. Justin kickstarted his massively successful solo career, Joey went on Broadway, Lance became a licensed cosmonaut, Chris got on an RV and traveled the US, and no one really knows what JC was up to, though he did release his own solo effort in 2004. Work on the next NSYNC album was to begin in the fall of 2003, but plans ultimately fell through. They still attended awards shows and made several public appearances together, regrouping for 2003 Grammys to perform an a cappella tribute to The Bee Gees. They were still "together" all the way through 2005, the final year they held their annual charity event, Challenge for the Children, which they began in 1999. In 2007, Lance came out with an autobiography, titled Out of Sync, in which he described what was essentially their break up. At 2004's Challenge for the Children, NSYNC sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" for what would be their final public performance together. During the event Justin admitted to the others that he didn't want to regroup. JC was intent on carrying on with NSYNC without Justin, but Chris refused to go on without all of them and with only three members willing to continue, they called it quits. However, since there has been no official statement regarding a breakup, they're still technically on hiatus. They briefly reunited at the 2013 VMAs, but have stated they have no further plans for the group.In the end, they turned out to be pretty damn successful. No Strings Attached and Celebrity currently hold the records for highest opening week album sales in the US, they've sung with the likes of Aerosmith and Michael Jackson, they've performed at the Super Bowl and the Olympics, and they have their own wax figures. Not too bad.Now has a Character Sheet.Albums:
*NSYNC (1997-98)note Released in 1997 in Germany, and '98 in the US.
A Cappella: Their musical basis and a point of pride amongst the group, they were notable for regularly singing a cappella and for their five-part harmony arrangement, with JC and Justin as tenors, Chris as countertenor, Joey as baritone, and appropriately enough, Lance as bass. Their final television performance (prior to the 2013 VMAs) was an a cappella tribute to The Bee Gees for the 2003 Grammys. In addition, both Joey and Chris were members of (separate) a cappella groups before NSYNC formed.
Justin: Everything that we did was based around a cappella harmonies. That's what we wanted to be in the beginning — an a cappella group. So that is why we put five guys in the group.
"I Thought She Knew" closes out their second album, No Strings Attached, and they did an a cappella arrangement of "O Holy Night" for their Christmas album. They have also contributed an a cappella version of "When You Wish Upon a Star" for the DisneyMania CD series and have performed their a cappella rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" for the 2000 World Series and 2002 Winter Olympics.
It should be noted that despite the moniker, they were not pulled together by a record company and for the most part came together organically, all of them (except Lance) having already known each other before forming the group. As a result they don't quite fit into the typical boy band archetypes and there's a bit of overlap.
Breakup Breakout: Justin's solo career has still shown no signs of stopping, a full decade after the group's breakup.
While obviously not on the same level as Justin's career, JC was a judge on America's Best Dance Crew and does production work, Joey has a modestly successful career as a television host, Lance has a successful radio show on SiriusXM and is a gay rights campaigner, and Chris owns a production and recording studio.
Breakup Song: "I Want You Back", "I Drive Myself Crazy", "Bye Bye Bye", "It Makes Me Ill", "I Thought She Knew", "The Game is Over", "Gone", "See Right Through You"
"Bye Bye Bye" also has a Double Meaning, as it was allegedly written about their "breakup" with Lou Pearlman.
Call Back: They used to play a game of hacky-sack for good luck before every performance. They brought their pre-show ritual back when they reunited for the 2013 VMAs.
Their 2001 PopOdyssey Tour reused elements from their performances at the 2000 VMAs and 2001 Grammys.
Justin: We're the best rag-tag group of pretty boys on the planet!
Celebrity Endorsement: At the height of their fame, they did ads for McDonald's, Chili's, Verizon, and other endorsements in exchange for tour sponsorships.
Chase Scene: The entire premise of the "Bye Bye Bye" music video. The Psycho Ex-Girlfriend runs after Chris and Joey on a train, sics two Dobermans after Justin, and engages JC and Lance in a high speed car chase.
Christmas Songs: The Christmas album Home For Christmas and the Germany-only Winter Album.
An interesting variation: the 1997 German single "Together Again" wasn't intended to be a Christmas song, but it sounded vaguely seasonal enough for them to pass it off as one and they filmed a Christmas video for it anyway.
The Cover Changes The Gender: A minor example. Their cover of Janet Jackson's "That's The Way Love Goes" changed the line "Go deeper baby deeper" to "I'll go deeper baby deeper".
Cover Version: As required for any boy band or teen idol, they've done some covers. Conversely, "(God Must Have Spent) a Little More Time on You" was covered by Alabama with *NSYNC providing the backing vocals.
"Sailing" (Christopher Cross), with whom they performed for the 1999 Blockbuster Awards
A Day in the Limelight: "I Drive Myself Crazy" is their only single in which someone other than Justin or JC is given a solo, with Chris singing the lead-in verse. (The European version of the song has JC singing Chris' verse, however.)
Joey and Chris share verses and lines throughout their first album and Christmas album and they both get a verse on "I Thought She Knew".
Their musical tribute to the 70s and 80s on their Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now tour lets Chris and Joey respectively sing lead.
Chris' falsetto is brilliantly showcased in "O Holy Night", "The Star-Spangled Banner", and their a cappella Bee Gees medley. He's also the lead on their cover of "The Lion Sleeps Tonight".
During the Atlantis Concert, a 2001 television special, each of the boys gets a solo during a medley with Tim McGraw, including Lance who sings the first verse of "Lean On Me."
Lance and Joey's acting efforts were their attempts at this...it didn't go over so well.
Fake Shemp: During tour rehearsals, Joey was severely injured by malfunctioning equipment, which forced him to sit out most of the filming of the "Pop" video. He was filmed from the waist up and in sitting positions while their choreographer Wade Robson replaced him on full body shots of the band dancing.
Fanservice: Parodied during their PopOdyssey Tour, in which Chris performs a clumsy striptease after "Space Cowboy" while stage hands prep for the next song.
Fun with Acronyms: JustiN, ChriS, JoeY, JasoN, JC. After original member Jason left, they nicknamed Lance "Lansten" as a joke so the acronym would still work. (It still works anyway, it's just the placement of the second "N" would now be in the middle of Lance's name rather than at the end.)
The name of the company under which they distributed their merchandise, ZEEKS Inc., was made up of the last letters of their family names - ChaseZ, TimberlakE, FatonE, KirkpatricK, BasS.
Funny Background Event: In the "It's Gonna Be Me" video, Lance is seen yelling "That's my box!" when one of the G.I. Joe dolls pushes one of the band's boxes off the shelf. The box is actually Justin's.
In the "Making The Video" for "It's Gonna Be Me", Chris makes faces and mocks JC behind his back as the latter is talking to the camera.
Towards the end of "This I Promise You" where they're all seated at a table, Joey is seen putting ketchup on his food while the others are singing. And in another shot, Lance and Joey appear to be having a conversation while Justin sings to the camera.
In the American version of the "I Want You Back" video, the guys play pool and while the camera is on Justin, Lance, and Joey, Chris starts attacking JC with his pool cue.
Fun Personified: In comparison to Backstreet and their other peers, it's pretty obvious *NSYNC were having a lot more fun and enjoying themselves. Their concerts and music videos were seen as much more fun and spirited.
JC explicitly said that No Strings Attached is intended to be a fun album.
Fun T-Shirt: Chris and Joey often sported these, but the other guys got in on the fun as well.◊
Multiple Choice Past: There are a few conflicting stories as to how Chris first got in contact with Lou Pearlman, the most common one being him auditioning for the Backstreet Boys and not making the cut. Another has Howie Dorough of BSB, whom he attended college with, referring Chris to Pearlman after the Backstreet Boys were already formed. The "official" story, as documented by VH-1's Driven series, has Pearlman approaching Chris after catching him performing with The Hollywood Hi-Tones.
Another difference from their "official" backstory is Pearlman's claims that JC had once worked for him as a personal assistant. In addition, according to Lance's autobiography, JC and Chris knew one another before NSYNC formed and it was JC, not Justin, who Chris first recruited.
There's also two different stories they tell about how their got their name: the above Fun with Acronyms and the Punny Name from Justin's mother. It's generally accepted that both stories are valid.
New Sound Album: Their debut album was heavily steered by Europop and soft rock. No Strings Attached steered them into a more hip-hop driven direction, while Celebrity further cemented their R&B, hip-hop, and garage influences. (Celebrity also foreshadowed the direction that Justin's solo music would be going.)
Nonuniform Uniform: When their stage costumes and public appearance outfits weren't clashing, they generally adopted an overall themed look with modifications for each member. Like so.◊
Noodle Incident: At some point in 2001, Chris broke his hand and had to wear a cast for a while. No one really knows what happened; unlike all other times group members were injured or out of commission, they were curiously tight lipped on the subject.
Overshadowed by Awesome: Justin's solo career and fame has eclipsed the band's, it does warrant a mention that they've sold over 25 million records, toured football stadiums, and No Strings Attached and Celebrity set the fastest first-week sales records in the United States with 2.4 million and 1.8 million, respectively. Those records have yet to be broken.
Lampshaded by Chris when he sees the designs for their tour costumes:
Chris: Oh my god! Whatever happened to the days where we went down to the mall and picked up shirts?
Scary Black Man: Their security team, known as Sexual Chocolate, consisted of quite a few of these. They weren't so much scary as they were imposing, which makes sense considering their line of work, and were well loved by the fandom.
Scatting: "Trashin' the Camp", their collaboration with Phil Collins for Disney's Tarzan, consists entirely of non-lyrical vocalizations.
Self-Deprecation: They were more self-aware than their peers about their boy band image and often made jokes about themselves.
JC: It's fun to make fun of your friends. You can't take yourself seriously all the time.
Chris: We're not dolls, we're puppets. If you're a doll, your career is over.
They parodied themselves on the The Simpsons and made a cameo on Saturday Night Live as a boy band named No Refund who sang in nothing but food innuendos. They even did one of TRL's infamous shout outs as No Refund.
Yes yes yes, here we go NSYNC has got he flow ... You know the party's here Sing along and have no fear NSYNC is here to make you people scream
Song Of Song Titles: In the single version of "Girlfriend", Nelly references the songs "Bye Bye Bye" and "Gone" and sneaks in a shout-out to the group.
I'll be your personal shrink boo I care what you think I bought the Bentley in pink 'Cause my dough in sync So tell your man bye bye And tell him you're long gone Ain't no needin' wait up You done found you another home
The Blues version of "I Want You Back" from their 2002 Celebrity Tour references even more of their songs.
This I promise you It ain't no lienote from "Bye Bye Bye" It's tearin' up my heart since you said bye bye bye It's gonna be me that makes your loneliness stop If you won't be my girlfriend My heart will surely Pop
I'd like to spend a little more time with younote from "God Must Have Spent" Doin' our thing, be sailing, like we used to do No strings attached I want you back But the truth remains...note from "Gone"
Spell My Name with an S: There have been so many different renderings of their name over the years that they finally had to comment on it on Twitter. Technically speaking, both 'N Sync and *NSYNC are correct. The first spelling was used throughout their time in Europe and they began stylizing their name as *NSYNC when they made their debut in the US.
Take That: The title of their second album, "No Strings Attached," alongside all of the "puppet on a string" imagery of the album art (and the videos for "Bye, Bye, Bye" and "It's Gonna Be Me,") came about after a rather nasty legal battle with former manager Lou Pearlman.
The general fan consensus of their Badass Boast at their VMA reunion was that it was a quick jab at One Direction and similar teen idols.
Sick and tired of hearing all These people talk about What's the deal with this pop life And when is it gonna fade out? The thing you've got to realize What we're doing is not a trend We've got the gift of melody We're gonna bring it till the end
Technician Versus Performer: Justin (Performer) and JC (Technician). While they're both the best dancers and the lead singers, Justin was better at engaging the audience while JC was more focused on hitting the marks. Justin full out admits that JC is the superior singer.
Dance-wise, Justin is actually a Technician, a singer who learned how to dance like a Performer while JC was the Performer, a natural dancer who learned how to sing like a Technician.
They were also the Performer (skillfully elaborate performances, willingness to experiment with their genre) in contrast to Backstreet's Technician (skilled but more simplistic performances, preferred staying within their genre).
V Formation Team Shot: The choreography for "I Want You Back" and "Bye Bye Bye" end with this pose. Their choreography in general will work this formation into it.
Vocal Tag Team: NSYNC songs typically have Justin and JC handling the solo verses, with Chris regularly providing secondary harmonies for them and the other two relegated to the choruses. Chris is a distant third when it comes to number of solos, Joey having even fewer, and Lance essentially none. They were often criticized for this and compared to the rivaling Backstreet Boys, who gave every member at least one line in most of their songs.
"Sailing", "Bringin' Da Noise", "For The Girl Who Has Everything", and "Gone" are notable for having only one member lead the entirety of the song, with JC leading the first three and Justin leading "Gone".