JC joins Step Up Volusia, an awareness campaign for Volusia County in Central Florida. JC’s mother Karen is the mayor of DeBary, FL, part of the campaign.
Y2K’s apocalyptic frenzy signaled a shift where pop singers became more defiant in taking risks with digitized sounds — from Aaliyah going full futuristic acid-rap fusion on “Try Again” to Britney Spearsturbo driving her dance-pop into outer space with “Oops!… I Did It Again.”
*NSYNC was one of the sonic spaceship’s main navigators, thanks to the group’s sophomore album, No Strings Attached. The album (which turned 20 on March 21) saw the quintet transitioning from the thumping, Swedish synth-heavy jock jams of 1998’s self-titled album to exploring their urban influences. The end result? Millennial interpretations of New Jack Swing, and staccato rap-adjacent flows that were previously made mainstream by Destiny’s Child and TLC.
Helping to lead the charge was JC Chasez who, along with fellow *NSYNC lead vocalist Justin Timberlake, earned his first official album credits on No Strings Attached. He stretched his talents to co-write and co-produce four songs, with assistance from songwriter Veit Renn and production duo Riprock ‘n’ Alex G: “Space Cowboy (Yippie-Yi-Yay)” featuring Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes,” “Digital Get Down,” “Bringin’ da Noise,” and the title track.
“From a business standpoint, this is exactly when we became far more involved and took control,” Chasez tells Billboard, as *NSYNC had to delay the album’s original fall 1999 release due to a messy legal battle with former manager Lou Pearlman. “We always had our opinions about our music and tried to be open-minded. We recorded songs that we don’t love and ones that we do, and that’s just a part of the experimental process.”
That experimentation led to immediate success. It made history as the first album to sell over 2 million copies within its first week of release (a record later broken by Adele with 2015’s 25), and birthed three top five singles (“Bye Bye Bye,” “It’s Gonna Be Me” — which topped the Hot 100 for two weeks — and “This I Promise You”). In 2001, it also earned a Grammy nomination for best pop vocal album.
Below, JC Chasez speaks to Billboardabout the stories behind the songs he helped curate, the legacy that No Strings Attached leaves behind, and what he really thinks about the boy band’s eyebrow-raising tour outfits. The conversation has been condensed and edited for clarity.
No Strings Attached is a lot more R&B-inspired compared to *NSYNC. Was that intentional?
We were raised in the States, and at the time, music had more urban influences — even before our first record came out. I think what happened — and this could be just me taking a shot in the dark — we moved to Europe to record our first album. And you’re a product of your environment. You get excited about things that people around you are excited about, so we were actually opening our minds up to something new at that point. We were in the middle of it, so we took on those [Swedish] influences. For the No Strings Attached record, we came back home and essentially called upon those influences inside of ourselves that were always there. We were just in the environment to allow those things to flourish. It happens naturally.
Did you guys draw from any specific inspirations?
I think the main thing when we were working on songs was we wanted it to translate live — we always saw the song live in our mind. We knew that it had to be theatrical in a way, because that’s the most fun to see. And we were very passionate about our shows. So as we were recording songs, we’d think “It would be cool if we did this and the crowd reacted this way” or “Everyone can sing this part.” We were conscious of our audience.
Can you recall any particular fun stories while you all were recording?
When you’re in it, you don’t think it’s crazy at the time. But then people look back at you and say, “Y’all were nuts!” [Laughs.] I didn’t even think of it that way. But because “It’s Gonna Be Me” has become a meme for the month of May, it was interesting when we cut that record. It was actually a very conscious choice to say it that way, because we wanted it to really punch.
For certain words, we bent the pronunciation. We were hitting the L’s hard on “lose.” Instead of saying, “You don’t wanna lose” — which would be kind of boring — we’d be like “You don’t wanna NLUUSE.” But when you’re listening to someone in the studio singing it that way, at first you’re like, “What is wrong with you?” But you have to dig and hit these different shapes of consonants and vowels to give them energy. Instead of saying, “It’s gonna be ME” we said “ET’S GONNA BAY MAY!” for it to hit harder.
Those conscious choices sound funny from the outside, but when it all comes together it sounds amazing. There weren’t memes back then, but we knew it needed to be more.
What was the decision behind getting more involved in writing and producing with Riprock ‘n’ Alex G?
I always wanted to be involved, and even in the beginning I had written some of the demos we shopped our [record] deal with. When we got signed, we moved to Europe to record and it was a bit of a fish-out-of-water [experience]. I was recording on kind of an amateur level with my production and writing skills at the time. When you’re put out into the world, you need to develop those skills and need to be around other high-level musicians.
So the first album was a great learning experience for me, to be around all these writers and producers. I acted like a sponge and learned as much as I could inthe process while still being myself and giving my point of view on my vocals. By the time the second record came around, I felt I had learned a bit and wanted to use that knowledge.
Riprock ‘n’ Alex G were producers in their own right who came together as remixers. They remixed a couple of our tracks. One day, we were working in different rooms in a studio and we started talking and exchanging ideas. We became friendly, and before you know it, we were working together. It was a very easy working relationship and friendship.
I want to get into the songs that you personally worked on, starting with “Space Cowboy.” Were you all in the studio when Left Eye recorded her verse?
Yeah, she was a really kind person. I went down to Atlanta to cut that record at Dallas Austin’s studio and she had people that she liked to work with. So I met that whole team — it wasn’t like a huge entourage. TLC was the girl group, and they were people that I listened to. So I was excited just to have the chance to work with her.
The song really encapsulates that signature Y2K sound. Did you guys feel that paranoia during that time?
Look, the song was written for that purpose. Some songs you want to be timeless, and others you speak about the time. And this was absolutely one of those songs where I had the opportunity to do so. I wanted it to be entertaining and fun, and also a bit interesting to capture that moment. Luckily it came out the way I wanted, which was exciting.
I always thought you had one of the more powerful vocals within the pop sphere at the time, and your voice really shines on the title track.
That’s very nice of you to say. I guess I got the chance to sing loud and aggressively. [Laughs.] That was the whole point of it. I was thinking in terms of how it would inject energy into the record and into a room full of people.
“Digital Get Down” always stood out to me with the way you guys thematically pushed your sexual limits. Were you wary of that?
It was just an instinct. It was kind of like, “Look man, this is gonna happen. We can either shy away from it or go right at it.”[Laughs.] As an artist, I don’t think you should be running from yourself. You can’t be afraid of everything. The sound of the song gave it a tapestry that maybe was less offensive. It was more of us making it dance-y, and it won’t be as intrusive as if we did it slow and sexy, and really put it in somebody’s face. We made it fun, but still got our point across.
Oh the point was definitely made! Can you confirm if the song is really about cybersex?
I don’t know if “cybersex” is the exact term that I would use. I would say it’s using a digital construct to flirt. It can be as explicit as you want it to be, but it’s essentially putting away your inhibitions and sharing something through the digital stream.
“Bringin’ da Noise” is definitely more of what we expected from *NSYNC with its synth-y, Europop sound.
Originally, I think something came up about a movie soundtrack. So I started there with [the song]. The soundtrack went away, so the thinking was to just go all the way with it — because to me, it’s kind of like the little brother to “Here We Go” on the first album. Putting it on the album made for a bit of continuity, because we were pushing for some of the songs to be different from the last record. But you don’t want to leave your entire fanbase by just making something so different that they can’t connect with any of it. So we thought, “Hey if you liked the first record, here’s something that’s still living in that vein.”
Were there songs that came easier than others? Or was the process a bit challenging since this was the first time your pen could really shine?
I wasn’t worried about my pen shining, I was just hoping that my songs were good enough. With every artist, you believe in these songs yourself, but you never know how people are going to accept them or not. But the song that was the most difficult yet the easiest at the same time was “No Strings Attached.” The chorus was what I wrote first, but I didn’t have the line “no strings attached” at the end of it — it was something totally terrible.
So I never laid down the track because it wasn’t really going anywhere. Then all of a sudden, when we came up with the album title, I now had the “No Strings Attached” concept in my mind every day. I revisited the old song and thought, “Wait, if I just chop this off and find a way to connect these [ideas] this could be really interesting.” So what was originally a rough go at a song — because I liked pieces of it and I was struggling with it — became very easy once [the album title] joined the record. Then the song wrote itself.
How involved were you all with choosing the collaborators for this record? You did end up reuniting with a few of the Swedish producers that worked on *NSYNC.
They were crazy and fun to work with, so when it came time to do a second record we were excited to work with the Swedish producers again. Once you sell records, everyone is going to want to start working with you. Then it’s up to you to understand who is pitching what and remain calm and remain yourself. As soon as Max [Martin], Kristin [Lundin], Rami [Yacoub] and all those guys had some songs that they said were 2.0, we were ready to hear it. We went off to the races to cut them.
“It Makes Me Ill” was such a standout record on the album.
We just wanted a concept record. We were excited to work with producers and writers Kandi [Burruss] and She’kspere [Briggs]. They had a great run at the time. And again, keeping in line with the Atlanta vibe that was going on, it was killer down there. So we ended up being lucky enough to work with those people some more. When we were working on the tune, we thought, “How do we make this pop? How will this translate on stage?”
What was your initial reaction to the way Ariana Grande used the song for last year’s “Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored”?
I thought it was great! You never know what songs will translate or become timeless. So to hear a piece of our song be put in a modern setting, and essentially be interpreted in her own way because it’s not the exact same way. She took a piece of something that she liked when she was young and gave it a new identity. I thought it was rad. I’m always excited to see people take the next step.
I was personally excited to hear it because I think “It Makes Me Ill” is in *NSYNC’s top five best deep cuts.
It’s one of the better ones, 100 percent! And we feel that way as well, by the way. [Laughs.] To me, that song is a BOP.
What were some of your favorite songs on No Strings Attached?
“It’s Gonna Be Me” is always going to be one of my favorites. “Bye Bye Bye” is fun because everyone likes to do the dance. “This I Promise You” is such a good memory for me, just working with Richard Marx. That was a full-circle moment because the first thing I ever sang in public was a Richard Marx song. [Editor’s note: JC Chasez sang Marx’s “Right Here Waiting” for his The All-New Mickey Mouse Club audition in 1989]
Full disclosure: “This I Promise You” is going to be my future wedding song!
Good! It’s a beautiful song. He writes treasures, that guy. When he gets the guitar in his hand and has an idea, he’s incredible. Because we sold so much on the first record, everybody was ready to work on this record. And we were fortunate enough to have people like Marx and Diane Warren come to us and say, “We want to have you record this.” It was an absolute honor.
I actually wanted to bring up the fashion during this time. You all wore some pretty out-there outfits, especially for the No Strings Attached Tour.
Look, I’d wear that stuff again! I think if you’re going to be on stage in front of 20,000 people, don’t be boring and don’t dumb it down. If you’re on a stage that big, your costume needs to be big. You need to give people theater. It’s more interesting to me to watch.
I’ve always enjoyed when people push themselves. We took the mindset that we need to heighten reality. If we just came onstage in the same thing that everybody else was wearing at the time, we would just blend in. And the point of being on stage is to take the opportunity to go bigger. [Performing] “Digital Get Down”was a perfect example: We can kind of look like robots, but there wasn’t enough going on. So we were like, “Let’s cut some mesh and stitch some silver in it and run a light through it! MORE!” [Laughs.]
Did you keep any of your stage outfits?
I have a ton of that stuff. We ended up getting a star on the Walk of Fame [two years ago], and we wanted to do a pop-up shop for any of the fans that wanted to check it out. So we pulled out different stuff for each of our storage units and threw it in there. We wanted everyone to see the real thing in person.
Every so often, your name pops up on Twitter where fans think you didn’t get your due credit. Did you ever feel that way?
Uh, no. [Laughs.] Look, I’m fully aware of my contributions and I feel confident in that. I mean, if you listen to the songs you’ll hear me sing on them. I’m good with it!
Looking back on No Strings Attached20 years later, how do you think it fits within Y2K’s pop legacy?
I don’t really concern myself too much with the thought of “legacy.” My hope is that people had fun, you know. The entire reason we were able to go out there and sing those songs is because people seemed like they were having fun. We wanted to make sure we did that for those [fans] who invested in us. When I look back on it, I think I tried my best to show you a good time. Everything was so elevated at that time, but again we didn’t lose perspective. Understand that it’s elevated and crazy, and have a laugh about it.
I know you guys had your head in the ground while recording. But aside from the album’s major accolades, is there anything else that stands out from this era?
It just felt BIG. At the time, you just feel like everything is heightened and at a [level] 12. That’s the best way to explain it. There was never a moment or a day that you were awake and you didn’t feel like there was something at stake. It was a pressure cooker for sure, but we made tasty food. [Laughs.]
Twenty years ago this month, *NSYNC released their history-making second album No Strings Attached. On its cover Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, Joey Fatone, Chris Kirkpatrick, and Lance Bass appeared as five puppets on strings, but at the time, the group was at the peak of its cultural control. They shifted 2.4 million copies of the album in its first week of sales alone (a record only since topped by Adele, 15 years later) and surpassed any other album released in the year 2000. It heralded their split from their disgraced former manager Lou Pearlman, and with its forward-thinking mix of funk, R&B, and electronic-pop, secured their standing as one of the biggest boybands to ever exist. Frontloaded with their signature hit “Bye Bye Bye” and the meme-inspiring “It’s Gonna Be Me,” the fivesome created memorable videos, choreography, and outfits to match the bombast of the songs. To celebrate the milestone anniversary, Lance Bass and Chris Kirkpatrick reminisced with Vulture about their halcyon days making dirty pop, picking the best and worst and most and least of *NSYNC.
Best *NSYNC Song
Lance Bass: My favorite has always been “It Makes Me Ill.” Kandi Burruss wrote it and I freaking love her. [Ed. note: Ariana Grande last year interpolated the song on “Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored”; Bass, Kirkpatrick, Chasez, and Fatone joined her onstage at Coachella 2019]. I knew the Ariana sample was happening because we have to approve them. We just had no idea what it was gonna sound like. It was so sexy. The fact she used a sample from my favorite song makes me love her even more!
Chris Kirkpatrick: “It’s Gonna Be Me.” Once we got to perform the song and rehearse choreography it was so much fun to do. The music video was all crazy puppetry. Nine hours of makeup. It was a 24-hour shoot and we didn’t sleep. It’s funny that “it’s gonna be May” caught on so much because when Justin was doing it, the producer was like, ‘Yeah I need you to say it more like mayyyy, like a meaner “me.”
Worst *NSYNC Song
Lance: Ah there’s so many contenders! When you first start out as a new band, especially when you’re teenagers, you don’t know what your sound is yet. We were an acapella group so the only sound we knew we loved was Boyz II Men or Az Yet. We were just playing around with different styles and songs we thought would be cool. We played around with a little techno in the late ’90s and it was never good. There was a song called “I Need Love” [“I need love, you need love, we all need love”]. We performed it on our first tour and I never felt right singing it. I don’t even think it made it to the first American album.
Chris: There’s a song called “Riddle” that’s absolutely horrible. It was on the European album — this big European dance song. We did it for the record label, not for us. It didn’t sit well with us. It had no harmonies. Nah.
Lance: One of my favorites to perform was “Bye Bye Bye.” Any time a song has an iconic dance move in it like that it’s a beast. To this day, several times a day I hear someone walk by me and go “Bye Bye Bye” and do the hand motion! When I joined the group I was not a dancer. The other guys were incredible dancers. I was from a show-tune world and we were all about spirit fingers. So it was a lot of work for me. You had to adapt quickly; there was no other option.
Chris: My favorite routines were for awards shows. For the 2000 MTV Awards we had TV screens for “Bye Bye Bye.” That was really fun. There were a couple of other songs we did during it like “Just Got Paid” with this whole cartoon-y theme. I loved the award show dance routines because when we’d done “Bye Bye Bye,” “It’s Gonna Be Me,” and “Girlfriend” so many times [with the same choreography] it wasn’t fun with muscle memory.
Lance: There were a lot of dances that tested my patience and made me frustrated. One of my favorite choreographers was Marty [Kudelka]. He did “Girlfriend” and the last tour, and he had this different style that we hadn’t been doing. It was way more groovy and so much more smooth. It was the hardest for me to pick up even though it seemed like the simplest. And we were supposed to be perfectly in sync.
Chris: We had a routine where we had these canes, and we had a little ring connected to a fishing line and we had to throw the canes a couple times and they’d come back and we’d catch them. We had another one where we worked with staffs for the opening of one of our tours. We came out like Blue Man Group — these neon-looking people with these neon staffs. And there was a part where we all tossed the staffs to each other. If someone dropped the staff or you didn’t get a good throw to somebody else or you just lost your staff it would screw up the whole thing.
Lance: I love how JC moves. He’s such an incredible dancer and he can pick it up in two seconds. Joey’s great at picking up things. That’s how Joey got in *NSYNC!”
Chris: JC started working on back handsprings. Justin was a great dancer. Joey’s got moves that are really good, and Lance did cool stuff. It would be a toss-up between Justin and JC.
Best Video Shoot
Lance: It’s hard to pick one that was the most fun. Most of them were very boring. Some I definitely wanna forget! I loved doing the “It’s Gonna Be Me” shoot but we spent way too many hours in makeup. It was a big day for me because it was the first day someone asked me if I was gay. Chris Kirkpatrick sat me down and said, “Hey dude are you gay?” No one had ever asked me that. I was super in the closet and way too young to even know or care what was happening. But I remember getting so freaked out on that set because he caught me so off guard. I’m sure at that point people were wondering — so why don’t you have a girlfriend? It was very blunt. It scared me. I said, “No, what are you talking about?” I wasn’t even telling myself. I definitely wasn’t gonna tell Chris.
Worst Video Shoot
Lance: The video for “Pop” was the hardest by far. We had not slept in days, we were rehearsing for a tour starting in three days, Joey was injured, we were filming this thing that was supposed to be 24 hours but now it’s 30 hours, 48… We were also shooting for MTV’s Making the Video so we had to be on the whole time. It got to us. We all voiced our concerns at that point about being overworked. We had just gone through that crazy Lou Pearlman situation [ Ed note: In 1999, the group sued Pearlman for unpaid royalities] and we were looking at everything in a different light. We weren’t kids saying “yes, we’ll do everything you ask.” We wanted to start looking out for ourselves and our health. I haven’t seen the “Pop” video in years. The one I see the most is “Bye Bye By”e because any bar you go into that’s playing. If a DJ sees me in a bar then they immediately play an *NSYNC song.
Chris: I had a tantrum at the “Pop” shoot. I was just really tired and over it, and they were like, “Alright Justin here’s a part where you’re gonna dance with these girls over here, Joey you’re gonna sit with all these girls over here, and JC you’re gonna be in the club with these girls over here, and Lance you’re gonna be in this club with these girls over here, and Chris get back up and stand at the turntable.” That sucked. I wanted to dance with girls.
Chris: For tour we were really hands on with everything. We did this song “The Game Is Over” and we had these cool costumes that they’d put glowsticks in, and we were all on treadmills, and I had motorcycle gloves on. I thought it was really cool. Looking back I go, what the heck were we wearing? The amount of FUBU jerseys that we wore? No wonder we were friends with those guys. Every color imaginable.
Lance: We had horrible fashion, especially at the beginning because we couldn’t afford anything. One of our first outfits were these oversized beekeeper outfits that were all white. We went go-kart riding and they gave us free go-kart helmets. So we would open our show like Storm Troopers and do this crazy Star Wars thing made up of clothes we got from the go-kart place. When we opened up for Janet Jackson on the Velvet Rope tour those outfits were pretty special. Some of them are hanging up in Hard Rock — these crushed velvet Asian inspired Kimono outfits. Each of us had our own color. I was green. We all had our own favorite colors. JC was always blue. Joey was always red. Justin always had to be baby blue.
Lance: We stood out with our hair. The best era for all of us was probably really No Strings Attached. I liked Joey with the bright red, Chris had short hair, JC was back short, and Justin had the famous curls.
Lance: When I joined the group I came straight from Mississippi. I did not know a thing about getting a haircut. I had the typical bowl cut with long shaggy hair, kinda gross. So they gave me this combover and also dyed my hair. They tried getting it blond but it was just orange. So the first two months I just had this greasy orange combover hair. Later I got the frosted tips. You know once I discovered frosted tips I never went back!
Chris: Are you really asking me about hair moments right now? Honestly the best and worst moments in *NSYNC hair were mine; I got both ends covered. I started out with the braids and it became a thing and then I got over it. I thought it was different. Something that nobody else was doing. I did it. It made me stand out. But sometimes … that’s not always a good thing.
Lance: Being with all the guys after the night we won all those 2000 VMAs for “Pop.” Michael Jackson performed with us, we won every award we were up for, and it was such a real moment. Every artist dreams of being that top artist. To do that was so overwhelming, knowing how hard it took us to get there. It was a beautiful moment.
Chris: The success. Not really an award as much as taking something that the five of us believed in and working really hard for it. No matter how tired we got we were all there to pick each other up. I put this band together. We were all friends. We’re brothers. We fight like brothers and we love each other like brothers. It’s crazy after all this time that we’re still all so close. We still have grudges against each other. There’s a few things that some of us get angry at each other for, but that’s what brothers do.
‘It’s *NSYNC’s World, We Just Live in It’: An Oral History of ‘No Strings Attached’ Selling a Historic 2.4 Million First-Week Copies in 2000
Following our Billboard staff-picked list of the 100 greatest songs of 2000, we’re writing this week about some of the stories and trends that defined the year for us. Here, we flash back to late March of that year, when one of the biggest groups in pop music released their much-anticipated sophomore album — and set a record-breaking mark for runaway success that stood for 15 years to come.
Twenty years ago, pop heartthrobs *NSYNC set an industry standard with their sophomore album, No Strings Attached. The LP sold a whopping 2.4 million copies in its first week in March 2000, doubling the record their boy band contemporaries the Backstreet Boys had set the year before with their own blockbuster sophomore effort, Millennium.
For *NSYNC, the timing of their second full-length release couldn’t have seemed more perfect: Big pop acts were beginning to take over the music industry, with the prior few years seeing the rise of boy bands, as well as teenage darlings Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. CD sales were at an all-time high, as artists of all genres (Dixie Chicks, Kid Rock, Santana) were reaching diamond status around the turn of the century; meanwhile, MTV’s Total Request Live was at its peak, giving those young stars a platform to connect with fans (and promote the hell out of whatever project was coming next).
But while the scene was set for *NSYNC, the new millennium marked a period of uncertainty for the group, as they were coming off of a highly publicized legal battle with their initial label, Trans Continental/RCA Records, and now-disgraced mogul Lou Pearlman. The fivesome — Lance Bass, JC Chasez, Joey Fatone, Chris Kirkpatrick and Justin Timberlake — sued Pearlman for defrauding, nearly losing their group name (and $150 million) before a judge ruled in their favor in November 1999. The decision allowed *NSYNC to sign with Jive Records, an independent label that was home to Spears and, ironically, the Backstreet Boys.
The year 2000 was overwhelmingly riddled with classic pop albums, and the one that many pop purists find themselves revisiting is *NSYNC‘s No Strings Attached.
In celebration of the album’s 20th anniversary, the iconic boy band has once again partnered with Epic Rights for a merch collection that will bring longtime fans right back to the turn of the millennium.
The collection (which follows the band’s Dirty Pop-Up Shop in Los Angeles in 2018) is filled with various clothing and household items that feature designs from the No Strings Attached album, as well as nods to song titles.
“To celebrate this 20th anniversary, we worked in close collaboration with the band to ensure authenticity that reflects this incredible legacy,” Epic Rights exclusively tells Billboard. “Our focus was to bring out small details from the album that fans may have forgotten about, while also sharing a new point of view that pays homage to the early 2000’s.”
Highlights from the collection include: a limited-edition reissue of the original record on picture disc vinyl ($25), a “Just Shake It” snow globe pencil holder ($15), a pink-and-white tie-dye tour shirt ($35), a “Bye Bye Bye” hoodie (55), a 20th-anniversary pin set ($30), a pair of “Say I’m Trippin'” bright purple socks emblazoned with a clown design lifted from the original album art ($20) and a No Strings Attached Personalized RIAA Certification Plaque where fans can have their name engraved ($280).
Those eager to purchase can do so when the collection officially launches Saturday at 10 a.m. ET on *NSYNC’s official website. The merch will begin shipping April 20, while the vinyl reissue is set for July 17.
Courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment
*NSYNC’s No Strings Attached — released on March 21, 2000 — debuted atop the Billboard 200, selling a million copies in the first day. The album later made pop music history, selling a then-record-setting 2.4 million copies in its first week — a record that was broken 15 years later with Adele’s 25 in 2015. It birthed four singles: “Bye Bye Bye,” “This I Promise You,” “I’ll Never Stop” and “It’s Gonna Be Me,” which topped the Billboard Hot 100 for two weeks.
While a reunion isn’t in the future, the members have been sharing memories from the album era. During his Ellen appearance on March 11, Justin Timberlake revealed he and Joey Fatone “accidentally broke into Alcatraz one time” while shooting the “This I Promise You” video.
Courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment
On an episode of Billboard‘s Pop Shop Podcast in January, Fatone didn’t quite rule out the idea of a reunion down the road. “It’s not a no, but it’s not a yes, because the thing is, we may come up with an idea that may not work for all of us,” he explained. “If I did do something like this, I think it’s just something that definitely we will wanna do maybe more music, but also have fun, do you know what I mean? … There’s not a lot of pressure anymore.”
Click here for more information on the new merch collection, and look out for Billboard‘s anniversary coverage throughout the week of March 23.
The group’s “No Strings Attached” album turns 20 this year.
What does Justin Timberlake really think about an *NSYNC reunion? And would JC Chasez consider taking the group on the road without him? Those were two burning questions posed by fans on “The Daily Popcast With Lance Bass,” airing this week — and sort of answered.
A return to the *NSYNC original lineup — Timberlake, Chasez, Bass, Chris Kirkpatrick and Joey Fatone — would be the ideal way to mark 20 years since “No Strings Attached” was released, selling over 2.4 million copies in its first week, a record for the time.
“We’ve been talking about it,” Bass tells Variety. “No plans have been made. If there will even be plans, who knows? … I think if we did anything, it would be for the fun of it — the world needs something fun to listen to and I think we could bring some positivity to it. That’s what we need right now. It could be something simple to test it out, and if it works, it works and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”
Bass, 40, says fans will get clearer answers on where the group stands on the idea when he releases his interviews, one day at a time starting today. One member will also interview Bass for Friday’s edition of the Popcast, while Saturday’s anniversary special features co-hosts Peachy Keen (Jess Keener) and Giggles (Lisa Delcampo) asking the singers “hilarious” rapid-fire questions.
“I’ve done Joey and JC so far and they’re very different interviews,” Bass adds. “JC’s the hardest to nail down and more mysterious, so it was interesting to get into his head. You’ll definitely hear his opinion on the reunion and if it’ll happen.”
Popular on Variety
Bass is also thrilled about getting a rare insight into Timberlake’s thoughts on topics the two have “never discussed” in their 25-year friendship. “He’s the only [bandmate] I haven’t interviewed before, so I’m super-excited to delve into what his life’s like now, talk about ‘No Strings Attached and that era, ask what that [solo] transition was like and get his opinions on the future of *NSYNC,” says Bass. “I want to pull the curtain back and show you who Justin is – who my best friend was years ago. He was 14 years-old when I met him. A bond that’s incredible. We experienced things most people didn’t go through and I love the juxtaposition of what we were then to now, and how we’ve all grown into who we grew into … it’s all because we influenced each other at such a young age.”
It’s not surprising how impactful the young singers’ friendships were given the tumultuous wave they rode together preceding NSA’s release. While working on the follow-up to 1997’s self-titled debut, the group – as well as their peers, the Backstreet Boys – became suspicious of their then-manager Lou Pearlman’s financial dealings. Both bands took legal action, with *NSYNC successfully cutting ties with Pearlman and RCA, signing with Jive Records and retaining their name.
“It was a crazy time because we didn’t know where our careers were going and every expert around us said, ‘Your career’s over kids,’” recalls Bass, who produced the film “Boy Band Con,” a 2019 documentary about Pearlman. “That hurts when you’re that young and have worked so hard. The last thing you want to hear is the head of the label saying, ‘Guys, you might have one more album in you if you just stick with Lou Pearlman.’ It was a scary moment. We thought our careers were done. So many crazy thoughts went through our heads, but when we finally got our name back and ended our relationship with Lou, everything started flowing.”
NSA spawned two of *NSYNC’s biggest hits, “Bye Bye Bye” and “It’s Gonna Be Me,” which featured writing credits by Max Martin, Andreas Carlsson and the Cheiron Studios team. The album also featured songs by Richard Marx and Diane Warren.
While *NSYNC followed up with 2001’s “Celebrity,” the quintet announced a hiatus in 2002, and in recent years have only reconvened on stage to honor Timberlake and his Video Vanguard Award at the 2013 MTV VMAs. He was absent from Coachella 2019, where the four joined Ariana Grande for a surprise appearance, having just wrapped his Man of the Woods tour.
It was at Coachella where Bass met an artist he’d never heard of — Lizzo — who would become key to one of his biggest 2020 projects, collaborating with Richard Branson’s Virgin Fest. Lizzo and A$AP Rocky are headlining the Los Angeles music and environmental awareness event in June.
“Richard Branson and myself are big space geeks and tech people, so we wanted to create something that entertained people – by bringing in the Lizzos and Anderson.Paaks – but also showed the future,” Bass elaborates. “It’s about doing right [for] the environment and what next cool futuristic thing will help our planet. It reminds me of the World Fair, where people used to go to see new stuff, with a little mix of Coachella!”
Bass’ love for podcasts will feature at Virgin Fest, where The Daily Popcast and Bass’ favorite hosts will broadcast live from the Bubble Tap VIP Area, a nod to his Bubble Tap Trailer mobile wine business. It’s one of several boozy endeavors, including his West Hollywood bar Rocco’s WeHo and upcoming mixers line, J.A.X. (Just Add X – X being your favorite spirit), a collaboration with “Vanderpump Rules” star Jax Taylor, launching at Virgin Fest.
“The fun thing has been coming up with J.A.X flavors because they’re unique, taste great, are low-calorie and have vitamins,” says Bass, who’s also producing a film about *NSYNC superfans who put their lives on hold in order to follow the band on tour. “The dangerous part is you can’t taste the alcohol. It’ll sneak up on you.”
As for whether J.A.X or Bubble Tap have been loosening lips in-studio during Bass’ *NSYNC interviews: “I haven’t done Justin or Chris yet, so maybe I’ll bring some in … then they can give me testimonials!”
Read the article here.
The NSYNC star joined That Literally Happened to talk about the group’s whirlwind fame in the ’90s and what he thinks about BTS and the K-pop bands that have taken over the music world today.
That Literally Happened, a new show from BuzzFeed News on Facebook Watch, is revisiting some of the most memorable moments of the ’90s.
This week, we’re talking boy bands!
Every decade has its defining trends, but nothing encapsulates ’90s pop culture quite like the boy band.
Groups of previously unknown singers, backed by the power of the music industry, took over the entertainment world almost overnight.
Fame came quickly to the boy bands of the time, and Lance Bass of NSYNC joined That Literally Happened to share his experience being at the center of it all.
“It was a time in music history that I don’t think will ever exist again,” Bass explained. “It was the explosion of pop. And people were selling records like no one had ever done before.”
“I was excited to maybe get a job at Disney World,” Bass recounted of his modest expectations when he joined the group at age 16. “That would have been fun.”
Bass said he first knew the band was going to be big when they opened a stadium show for Janet Jackson in Detroit.
“I’ve never heard a noise like that before,” he remembered. “You get these goosebumps and they don’t go away the whole time you’re onstage.”
Other career highlights for Bass included performing with Aerosmith at the Super Bowl, performing at the Academy Awards when the group was nominated for Best Original Song, and going on the Rosie O’Donnell Show.
“It took us forever to get on that show, but I was like, ‘No, we’re not famous yet unless we’ve been on Rosie O’Donnell,’” Bass explained. “That was my barometer of if you were big or not, and we finally got on the show.”
According to Bass, the formula for a great pop group boils down to three key elements: harmony, performance, and personality.
NSYNC had harmonies and personalities, but performance for the group meant complex choreographed dances. For Bass, that didn’t always come easily.
“We spent many hours in the dance studio and, fun fact, I was not a dancer when I joined NSYNC,” he recalled. “So I had to learn how to have rhythm and how to dance a little bit, and as we progressed, I got better and better at it.”
Bass recalled the process of learning the choreography as frustrating, but added that performing it onstage was always much more fun.
While the NSYNC star looked back fondly on most of his time with the group, he did have some fashion regrets.
“We would wear the same matching outfits. That was really bad,” he joked. “And I don’t think there’s one outfit that I can look back on that I say, ‘Wow, that was great.’ I think they’re all pretty hideous.”
Read more at buzzfeed.
Can you believe it? *NSYNC’s iconic album No Strings Attached turns TWENTY years old on March 21st, 2020. Two decades of greatness! To celebrate this occasion, MissionNSYNC and NSYNCOnline are teaming up. Throughout the month of March there will be events to commemorate the occasion.
One of these special tributes is a fan video, which we hope to fill with pictures, videos and fan stories. What does the album No Strings Attached mean to you? What is your favorite song(s)? What was your life like as a fan back in 2000? Did you go to an album release party? How did YOU celebrate?
The sky is the limit as to how you want to participate in this project. We ask that all submissions (videos, voice memos, pictures, stories) be sent to Christine at email@example.com or can be DMed to @chasezdaily on IG. Please include your name and location so we can give you credit for your tribute!
Stay tuned for more ways to participate in the #NSA20 project on Social Media! Be sure to tag @missionnsync in all your posts!
25 years ago, a group of five friends burst onto the music scene, marking the genesis of one of the world’s biggest boy bands – *NSYNC.
The boys had it all, from the hair to the fashion and dance moves – and they sold over 50 million records, tearing up hearts the world over.
Watch the full story above
Led by Justin Timberlake, the band quickly sought world domination – from fashion to toys and posters in every teenage girl’s bedroom.
But it was late recruit Lance Bass who fans developed a soft spot for.
Famous for his frosted tips and ‘shy guy’ persona, he remained one step ahead of his bandmates, leading to his own showbiz supremacy.
Now, 25 years on from his first audition, Lance is back behind the mic for a new project – but it’s his time as part of the world’s biggest boy band that will forever keep us all in sync.
“When we got together, we were all friends, and we decided we would start an a capella group and it just got bigger and bigger and bigger,” Bass said.
“You didn’t even really have time to think about what the future would be, but I know it was definitely bigger than we all thought it could be.
“When I joined the group, I was the last to join the group. None of the guys thought that my mum would let me do it because I was 16-years-old. But somehow she let me do it.”
And with the 20th anniversary of *NSYNC’s second album, No Strings Attached fast approaching, Lance knows the fans are eager as ever for a reunion.
“If there’s any time to do a reunion, it would be now,” Bass said.
“Everyone loves the nostalgia of the 90s and the early 2000s. It’s something that we are actually discussing right now. I don’t know exactly what will happen, or if anything will happen, but we are talking about it right now.
“It definitely hasn’t happened in over a decade, but the reunion is certainly closer.”
*NSYNC reunion news
After leaving the band, Lance went on to start his own management company – and now he’s co-hosting a new podcast called The Daily Popcast, and he’s got some big news for *NSYNC fans.
“This podcast format has been incredible,” Bass said.
“We started a couple of months ago, and we just have the best time going over all of the pop culture news of the day.
“Leading up to the No Strings Attached 20th anniversary, each of the *NSYNC guy will be sitting down with me one-on-one leading up to the anniversary.
“This is going to be the first time I get to interview Justin Timberlake. I’ve had the show for a number of years, but this is the first time we will have a sitdown – and I’m excited to really get into it with him.”