I take pop music seriously. Not creepy serious to where I’m sweating while imagining that Joey Fatone (someone recently pointed out to me that his last name is literally ‘fat one’ and I died laughing) is feeding me fruit while quoting NSYNC love songs and poking me in the eye with his dangerously pointy frosted tips. I don’t have fantasies about these people.
I mean that I take pop music seriously to the point where the songs are well crafted, feel-good, emotive and filled with choreographed dance. The compilation of choreographed dance while singing amazingly solid pop music is probably the single greatest entertainment thrill of my life. So when it comes to my favorite era of pop music, I like to take a step back and examine which albums were the best of the best.
The best NSYNC album for me was No Strings Attached. I still remember dancing for hours in my room to all the fast songs on that CD (and then slow jamming to the ballads when I was feeling vulnerable). They had some awesome dance hits on there. The title track was never released as a single, but No Strings Attached is SUCH a good early 00’s dance song. Most of the dancey songs on NSA seem like they were tailored for sick dance breakdowns. They had so many punches, dramatic pauses and fast beats that it’s impossible even as a listen to stay still.
In terms of album theme construction, NSA was an album about cutting ties with their former business partner Lou Pearlman who Ponzi-schemed the shit out of their success and finances. They got into legal battles with him and his record label and eventually were freed of contracts with shady Pearlman and moved on to Jive Records (home of B. Spears at the time.) Bye Bye Bye is written about a relationship thats totally fucked up, and in the beginning of the vid the dudes are held up by puppetmaster strings until they’re cut free.
The second release from the NSA album was It’s Gonna Be Me, in which the dudes are packaged and lined up in a store, mass produced and ready to be sold, just like they were in real life! Either it’s a scathing review of modern capitalism or an amazing product placement. Probably both. Nonetheless, NSA sold 2.42 million copies in its first week. Then on to 9 million by the time 2000 ended. The last great era of record sales for sure.
The other notable thing about NSYNC and others alike from this era of pop music is that it’s more like pop performance music. If you go back and watch videos of New Kids on the Block, they are singing live, dancing, sweating and flirting with the crowd. It’s a lot to do at one time. Throw into that mix heavily choreographed routines and often times ridiculous layers of costumes plus themed songs where you need to act as well, and you my friends have got a nice, thick piece of pop performance art.
So many times I hear from people that this sort of pop music is lame or unworthy of its success because most of the time-but not all of the time– the performers don’t write their own lyrics or music. But if you look at pop performance art like actors in a theatrical performance, it starts to shine a different light on the honest talent that it takes to be a pop performance star. Music preference and personal opinion aside, it’s always good to respect talent.
Favorite Tracks from No Strings Attached
Bye Bye Bye
Digital Get Down
It Makes Me Ill
It’s Gonna Be Me
Just Got Paid
Fuck, now I want to go learn all these dances. (YESSS!!!!!!!) Check out the good ol’ days of amazing choreography and solid as fuck pop songs from the best dancers and singers of the boy band era.
I just came across this song off the European version of NSYNC’s first album called “Riddle” and it’s a TOTAL clubby european electronic. So obvious it wasn’t released in America because apparently we could handle clubby hits until this decade.