LA Mag: *NSYNC Is in a ‘Better Place’ as Boy Band Reunites for ‘Trolls Band Together’ Song

“Perfect, perfect, perfect,” sings animated boy band BroZone throughout Trolls Band Together, a new film in the Trolls series — and *NSYNC fans will likely leave theaters chanting the same words after the film drops on November 17.

The third movie in the franchise celebrates boy bands as well as the ’90s and marks the first new music from *NSYNC — Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, Joey Fatone, Chris Kirkpatrick and Lance Bass — in more than two decades, with feel-good track “Better Place.”

With just days to go until the hotly-anticipated recording is released on Sep. 29, Los Angeles magazine scored a preview of the song during an advance screening of Trolls Band Together in Beverly Hills.

Co-written by Timberlake and recorded with Chasez, Fatone, Kirkpatrick and Bass in L.A., the track starts off slow and mellow with Timberlake’s leads accompanied by smooth acapella backing from his bandmates, before bursting into the snappy, cheerful chorus that has had *NSYNC fans watching the film’s trailer on repeat.

By the end of the upbeat song, it’s “bye bye bye” to the group’s signature lyric, as the “Better Place” line “faster, faster, faster” is an instant earworm.

Likewise, Timberlake’s “dance, dance, dance” — from his 2016 Trolls smash “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” — promptly makes way for “perfect, perfect, perfect,” from the catchy BroZone hit “Perfect,” which he also co-penned for the movie.

While the film marks a massive moment for *NSYNC — whose animated versions appear on the big screen with character names like “Boom” and “Hype” – it’s also a celebration of ’90s music and culture, from roller-skating and puffer jackets to songs like Salt-n-Pepa’s “Push it” and Shaggy’s “Boombastic.”

Of course, it’s the endless boy band references and performances that make the film a must for any ’90s pop fan — New Kids on the Block, Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees, Menudo and Boyz II Men get a nod. Branch (voiced by Timberlake) and his girlfriend Poppy (Anna Kendrick) set out to get BroZone back together in order to save Branch’s former bandmate Floyd (Troye Sivan) from pop villains led by a diva who declares, “I wanna be famous, but don’t want to work for it!” 

John Dory (voiced by Eric André), Spruce (Daveed Diggs) and Clay (Kid Cudi) round out BroZone, who experience everything a real-life boy band goes through, from backstage disagreements, stage mishaps, and developing rock-hard abs, to the pull of a solo career.

Although Timberlake couldn’t resist that pull, he’s back with his boys for “Better Place,” releasing via RCA Records. *NSYNC smash “I Want You Back,” also features in the film, with Timberlake reportedly re-recording the song with André and Diggs.

While rumors of an *NSYNC comeback had long been brewing, fan speculation went into overdrive as key art for the movie was revealed. Featuring the group’s logo, the ads began popping up around New York and Los Angeles in August. The quintet then came together at the MTV Video Music Awards, where they presented an award to Taylor Swift, who ecstatically questioned the musicians about what they had in store.

Two decades of patience finally paid off for Swift and other fans when the group followed up their VMAs cameo by announcing the release of “Better Place.”

In a video posted on Instagram, they were shown reuniting in L.A. to record the track. “If we do this song, it’s a love letter to our fans,” Timberlake says in the clip. “I would be honored to have the group on this song.”

Speaking days after the announcement, Fatone said reuniting with his bandmates felt natural.

“It was great being together with the guys again,” Fatone told to Los Angeles at fan convention ’90s Con in Tampa, Florida, on Friday (Sept. 15). “It’s funny because it’s almost like time doesn’t pass. It does in the sense that we’re older — although I’m not sure if I’m also wiser! But it’s crazy how we all just fell into place again.”

Despite unwavering fan demand for a reunion, Fatone was gob-smacked by the global response to the group’s VMAs appearance. His manager, Joe Mulvihill, watched as all five guys walked off stage looking stunned.

“They were completely shocked at the response,” Mulvihill says. “When you’re not together for so long, then you walk out and get that reaction, it’s crazy. They came off stage and were like, ‘Wow!’ Nobody expected those responses.”

Of course, being back under such an intense spotlight means being subject to the level of scrutiny the group faced during their heyday. This became evident on VMAs night after a backstage video showing Megan Thee Stallion seemingly arguing with Timberlake went viral. The two quickly put rumors to rest by posting a clip showing them having fun together after the show, but Fatone remains surprised at how quickly the misconstrued video spread.

“People run with whatever story they see,” added Fatone, who joined forces with AJ McLean to perform both *NSYNC and Backstreet Boys hits at Friday’s Joey Fatone & Friends gig. “They see a picture, make a conclusion and I’m like, ‘That’s not what it was.’ Or you’ll hug somebody and the minute you get too close, everyone’s like, ‘They made out.’ You take a photo and that’s just what happens — things are misconstrued a lot of the time!”