Set your DVRs now — they will be busy on December 6th!
Not only will we get Joey on Kelly and Ryan, Chris will be appearing on Good Morning America with Drew Lachey to promote “A Very Boy Band Holiday.” GMA begins at 7:00AM EST so tune in, or set those DVRs!
BC is heating things up with the sounds of the season courtesy of A Very Boy Band Holiday. The special sees members from *NSYNC, Boyz II Men, New Kids on the Block, 98 Degrees, New Edition, and O-Town assembling to bring their vocal stylings to recognizable tunes sure to make your spirits bright.
“We have done a few projects over the years with different members from different groups, but never at this level,” says executive producer Joe Mulvihill. “To see them all have mutual respect for each other and really understand what each other has been through is a unique combo that is fun to see on camera “
Chris Kirkpatrick can attest to the fun factor. We caught up with the *NSYNC member as he previews this nostalgic and festive evening of song.
How were you approached about this special?
Chris Kirkpatrick: I know this was Erik-Michael Estrada from O-Town’s idea. We have a lot of mutual friends in common, but it went through respective management.
It feels like a gathering of this boy band fraternity. Did it feel more like a family reunion on set?
I think, for the most part, it was a reunion. With the Boyz II Men guys, New Edition, and even the New Kids, these were these bands we never worked with that much. 98 Degrees, O-Town, all those bands we’ve done so much with that we’ve all become good friends over the years. I’ve also done a lot with Boyz II Men [more] in the past years than in previous ones.
How would describe the atmosphere?
It was so much fun. We were all in each other’s trailers telling stories, talking about all the times our paths have crossed and what we’ve done. Having Boyz II Men, New Kids, and New Edition was cool to have there because we had the opportunity to say how they’ve influenced us with what we did. We talked about how when we started we used to [sing] a lot of their songs … We could have gone on for hours. It was cool to hear everyone’s perspective on the business.
What were some of the songs you were excited to perform?
We were lucky to be able to do one of [*NSYNC’s] songs “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays,” which was a lot of fun. It was cool having all the guys taking a verse on our song.
*NSYNC’s holiday album Home for Christmas was such a big success. And the song “Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday” remains iconic.
When we [first] decided to do a Christmas album, we had all these industry standards on it. We had our take on those songs … the arrangements were unbelievable. Then when it came time to do “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays,” JC [Chasez] and Justin [Timberlake] had a hand in writing it. At first, it was like “what a great song” and it was our own song. [We thought] people were going to go back to the standards, but then it came out and people took to it, and really it became its own industry-standard of Christmas songs right now. It is very flattering.
The boy bands of the ’80s and ’90s have such staying power. What are your thoughts on the new generation of boy bands?
One Direction is probably one of my favorites. I freakin’ love them. BTS is amazing in what they are doing. You can see with bands like that the choreography is tighter, the music is more elaborate. They have to take it to the next level, and all these bands have been doing it. It is fun to watch. We got classified as a boy band, but we always considered ourselves a vocal group. Looking up to Boyz II Men and all the vocal groups we looked up to, I think that is what keeps that staying power in music with the harmonies and the arrangements we did with each song.
We’re about 20 years since *NSYNC’s last album, yet you’ve still maintained that bond.
We’ve done a great job keeping in touch with each other regardless of what we’re all doing. We support each other in everyone’s endeavors. We grew up together. We were brothers.. that kind of family, you don’t just disband. We make a point any of us are in the same town, we get a hold of each other. Even when we were out there filming, I got to see Lance [Bass’] new babies. I had dinner with JC. Justin was here in Nashville. Then I did the show with Joey [Fatone]. We try to make time for each other, especially for birthdays and special occasions. Any time the other guys say, “Hey, let’s take a trip and hang out,” [we do it.].
The other groups featured here have done reunion tours or have been regularly touring. Where do you stand on any *NSYNC reunion plans?
I will never say never, but we’re all still doing our own things and carving out our own niches in life. The band thing hasn’t really been a thing we can all come to terms with and say, “I’m ready to do this.” We haven’t come to an agreement on doing anything together. We’ve tried, but there are too many variables involved. It doesn’t seem like it’s in the cards right now.
At this point anyway. Maybe when you’re all 60.
You can never say never. They’ll be 60, I’ll be like 90. But who knows.
What else do you have going on?
Personally, I’ve got a son who just turned 4, and takes up a lot of my time. Luckily, now I’m at a point in my career where I can leave for weekends and go do gigs whether it is ATCK (All The Cool Kids) with AJ [McLean] of the Backstreet Boys or doing [Vegas show] “After Party” with Joey or hosting, I’m lucky I can fly out and do my job and spend the week home and take my kids to school. It’s perfect.
Will this special be an annual tradition?
That’s what we are hoping for. We are hoping it’s well-received, it was a lot of fun to do. It has cheesy moments [but] it also has got the cool moments you go, “Wow, these songs are great. These vocalists are great.” I think it’s a great holiday idea because you’re getting collaborations with bands you used to look at as rivals. Now they’re coming together for Christmas. Just for us to be back out there performing and performing with these other bands, it’s what Christmas needs. It was a lot of fun.
A Very Boy Band Holiday, Monday, December 6, 8/7c, ABC
As they crammed into a closet lined with mattresses at the home of their manager Johnny Wright to put their spin on Christopher Cross’ Yacht Rock classic “Sailing,” little did the members of *NSYNC realize how the casual recording might impact music 25 years later.
Chris Kirkpatrick, Joey Fatone, JC Chasez, Lance Bass and Justin Timberlake were in the early days of putting together their debut album when Wright suggested they record the 1980 song, which Drake has now sampled in “TSU” on his just-released new album, “Certified Lover Boy.”
“It’s flattering when things like this happen and with us, it doesn’t happen that often,” Kirkpatrick tells Variety. “It’s neat that I can tell friends who don’t know I was ever in a band, ‘Hey, I’m in this new record. Check it out!’”
“It’s like when Eminem wrote a [lyric] about me and at first I was like, ‘Wait, I have beef?’ Then I thought, ‘I’m in an Eminem song. That’s amazing,’” Kirkpatrick continues referring to Eminem’s “Without Me.” “And Ariana [Grande] did it [sampling *NSYNC’s ‘It Makes Me Ill’ in ‘Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored.’] It makes you feel old, but also makes you go, ‘At least we affected music today.’ It’s cool we had a little hand in the landscape of music today.”
“Sailing” was written by Cross and released in 1980; that year, Cross cleaned up at the Grammys. Kirkpatrick says Wright always loved the song and thought it would be a good fit for *NSYNC as they got to work on their 1997 self-titled debut album.
“He threw out the idea and Robin Wiley, our vocal coach, did a ridiculously good arrangement on it and we replaced a lot of the synths, violins and sounds with our voices,” Kirkpatrick, 49, recalls. “At first, I was worried because I didn’t want to ruin the song, but we put enough of our own spin on it to make it different and likable.”
“The arrangement Robin came up with complimented the band so well,” he continues. “She knew our limitations and what we could do, so she pushed the boundaries, vocally. I was in there for a couple of days just doing layers and layers of backgrounds. It was in Johnny’s closet with mattresses pushed up against the wall for better sound – you do anything when you start out!”
It was Kirkpatrick who initially sang lead vocals on the track. And given how much he loved the song, he was disappointed when Chasez was asked to take over.
“Obviously, they listened to it and said, ‘We don’t want it to sound like a little girl’s singing it, so we’ll have JC do it,’” laughs Kirkpatrick, who along with his bandmates performed “Sailing” with Cross at the Blockbuster Entertainment Awards in 1999. “I was a little heartbroken, but got over it.”
While the “*NSYNC” album spawned some of the group’s biggest hits, including “Tearin’ Up My Heart” and “I Want You Back,” hearing Drake had used one of the record’s lesser-known tracks came as a surprise to Kirkpatrick.
“At first, it didn’t make sense because ‘Sailing’ was a cover,” he says. “It’s Christopher Cross’ song. So, when I heard he sampled our version, I was like, ‘I’m gonna go home and listen to it on some real speakers tonight and get excited.’ I love it.”
“If I could guess why Drake does what he does, I could be Drake,” Kirkpatrick adds about why he thinks the rapper featured the composition. “I guess he had an idea, went with it and it worked perfectly.”
*NSYNC isn’t the only male vocal group that Drake, 34, pays homage to with his new music. In the video for “Way 2 Sexy,” featuring Future and Young Thug, the trio are joined by Los Angeles Clippers player Kawhi Leonard while dancing against a snowy landscape in scenes reminiscent of Boyz II Men’s “Water Runs Dry” video.
Their all-white outfits could also be a nod to the “I Want It That Way” video by the Backstreet Boys (who previously took to Twitter, jokingly pointing out the similarities between Drake’s “Hotline Bling” and their own phone-related smash, “The Call.”)
Drake’s apparent nods to such groups come amid heightened interest and increasing collaborations between the bands in recent months. Fatone and Bass teamed up with Backstreet Boys’ Nick Carter and AJ McLean for fundraiser “Bingo Under the Stars” at The Grove in Los Angeles in June. Fatone, Carter and McLean then formed a group with Boyz II Men’s Wanya Morris for recent Las Vegas engagement “The After Party,” where the musicians sang each other’s hits, performed covers and were joined by surprise guests like Coolio and Bobby Brown.
And while speaking with Variety on Saturday, Kirkpatrick was heading home from Kentucky following another project – his latest gig with ATCK (All the Cool Kids), a side group McLean formed with producer Brandon Mashburn, aka DJ Lux. Its rotating members include Kirkpatrick, 98 Degrees’ Jeff Timmons and Canadian drummer Ryan Stevenson.
So, could Drake’s references to *NSYNC, Backstreet Boys and Boyz II Men mean the ultimate cool kid is up for a further collab?
“He’s on another level,” says Kirkpatrick. “I would just sit back and go, ‘Tell us what you need us to do and we’ll figure it out.’”
Until then, Kirkpatrick – who’s yet to discuss “TSU” with his bandmates – says the idea of hearing snippets of “Sailing” in grocery stores and gas stations today is one of the “best parts” of *NSYNC’s legacy. He adds that “TSU” is also a reminder of how ‘90s fun became something bigger than he ever imagined. (It should be noted that “TSU” also samples an R. Kelly song, which has drawn sharp criticism.)
“It’s things like this song that really puts it in perspective,” Kirkpatrick says. “We were five guys having fun and things just happened to go crazy and we got to do all these amazing things without really understanding what was happening. It’s now – looking back, going to all these places, getting accolades and people knowing me in strange worlds I’ve never even visited – that it really hits and you’re like, ‘It wasn’t just five guys goofing around. It was very meaningful.’”
Joey Fatone and JC Chasez share the wisdom gained from their swan song.
A longside the Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC—JC Chasez, Joey Fatone, Lance Bass, Justin Timberlake, and Chris Kirkpatrick—were the poster children for everything a boy band should and could look like during their global domination in the late ’90s and early 2000s. Each member had his own personality, own style, own dance moves. Young fans fawned over each member, obsessing over every piece of information available in magazines and on TV, plastering bedrooms with posters of their favorite members. Not much older than their core fanbase at the time, *NSYNC were mostly teens when things really kicked off. So not only were they learning to grapple with the fame and attention of being the biggest pop group in the world, they were also simply growing up and learning how to be adults. “Lance and Justin were the really young ones,” JC Chasez tells Apple Music two decades later. “I was in my late teens when we were starting to get momentum. So for me, it was like a college experience. But for Justin and Lance, it was high school.”
By the time *NSYNC released their final album, Celebrity, in 2001, they were the biggest pop group in the world. Chasez and Timberlake co-wrote most of the tracks, and they’d started experimenting with hip-hop, dance beats, and other sounds and styles that intentionally expanded beyond the boy-band sound they’d become so famous for. Their previous album, 2000’s No Strings Attached, had become the fastest-selling album of all time, and Celebrity came in at a close second. “It was like a roller coaster,” Fatone tells Apple Music. “You go on that roller coaster, it’s going really fast, and when you eventually stop, you’re just like, ‘Wait, what just happened?’” For the group, who unofficially disbanded a year or so later, it took a while before they were able to stop and properly reflect. “When you’re in it, it’s a totally different thing,” says Fatone. “There’s so much you can forget. We were touring, we were constantly writing. We were constantly shooting videos, we were rehearsing for performances for award shows. For me personally, it was only when you stopped, when we finally took a break, that you could start to look at everything and go, ‘Holy shit.’” To celebrate 20 years of Celebrity, Fatone and Chasez look back to the turn of the millennium, sharing the life lessons they learned from their time in one of the biggest pop groups in history, and from the time they knew it was just about over.
Keep Your Eyes and Ears Open
Fatone: “Celebrity really was all about learning. As far as grabbing some things from Europe, samples, those beats, that’s what it made it different and exciting and unique. For Justin and for JC, it was a time for them to really dig into writing. We had a lot more of a hand in these songs. It wasn’t necessarily a coming of age, but it’s more or less going, ‘This is what we like, this is the sound that we want, and we’d love to try to bring that out.’”
Keep Things Interesting
Chasez: “We always had the mindset of, like, ‘Whatever we’ve just done, now we have to do it better.’ With success comes a bit of ego, and ego brings that confidence. So I felt pretty comfortable trying different things, but there was a purpose to it as well. I didn’t want to make the record that I made before when I was writing, because I already made it. I always liked it when my favorite artists would hit me with something totally different and excite me in a new way. If you have people’s attention, you have their attention for a reason. If there’s something they like, you don’t want to backhand them and not give them what they want. If you go to a concert, you want to hear your favorite. You want to grow and you want your audience to grow.”
Study the Game Tape
Fatone: “Every day, you’ve got to focus, you’ve got to perform. You’ve got to keep it all fresh in your mind. I think that’s why we worked so well as a group. There were times right after the show where we’d get on the bus with a VHS tape and we’d look at the show. I remember JC, Justin, and Chris were on one bus, me and Lance were on the other. They’d watch the show, and when we pulled over they would take it out, hand us the VHS tape, and say, ‘Hey, look at what we did. Did we do something wrong? What was it sounding like?’ We were always critiquing ourselves just to make sure we were that much sharper than everybody else, because that’s what we prided ourself on.”
Learn to Sleep Anywhere
Chasez: “When you’re in the thick of it, you really have to have an endless amount of energy, because you have to show up. If you don’t, people call you out on it. It’s just the reality of the world. You are your reputation, and the way to make your reputation is showing up with the goods. Over and over and over again. If you have a bad night, that’s what gets picked up. You can have 100 great shows, but if you have one bad show, what’s the press going to pick up on? That’s just the reality of it. And to keep that energy up, you’ve got to learn to sleep anywhere. I am a trained specialist in the artistry of sleeping. I can do it anywhere, anytime.”
There’s Always a Bigger Wave
Fatone: “It was always like, ‘Don’t kid yourself—no matter how famous you are, there’s always somebody more famous.’ We might’ve been the biggest pop group in the world, but we were opening up for Janet Jackson. When you get offered a stage with another band that’s big in their genre, you go, ‘Wait a minute—So this is what big looks like.’ You think you might be a big wave coming in and all of a sudden you see what a real big wave looks like. I remember a night off when I went and saw The Rolling Stones play. That’s what a big wave looked like.”
Look Out Behind You
Chasez: “I’m always happy to talk to the younger bands, but of course I can’t in any way, shape, or form try to tell somebody how to live. These people are on their own journey. I can tell them, ‘Hey, this felt wrong to me, this felt right to me, so keep that in the back of your head for what it’s worth. Obviously you’re successful for a reason, because you’re doing you. So that’s probably what you should keep doing. If there’s anything you feel unsure about and feel like there’s an answer out there and you think it could be here, I’m easy.’ What worked for me might not necessarily work for someone else, but I’m happy to share whatever experiences I’ve had.”
Fatone: “The whole music industry has changed so drastically that the advice that we might give them might be obsolete now. It’s interesting to see the whole social media thing, because we never had that. You’d rely on what you saw on TV, and unless it was TRL, it wasn’t instant gratification as far as seeing it live right then and there. You had to go out to concerts and things. Now you can just pop on your phone and see a video or a concert. You’ve got groups like BTS now, a different kind of boy band, but it’s amazing to see what they’re doing. When we first started out, we were inspired by all the people we looked up to throughout the years. It’s interesting to see these younger artists looking up to us now. I’m like, ‘Why are they looking up at us for?’ But it’s the music they loved, the vocals, it was everything that was driving them. It’s very humbling for me. It’s very admirable, and it’s weird, but it’s amazing.”