Let’s Not Forget Justin Timberlake Was in ‘N Sync
Let’s Not Forget Justin Timberlake Was in ‘N Sync
Before delivering a great performance as Napster and Facebook founder Sean Parker in the critically acclaimed film “The Social Network,” Justin Timberlake had bleach-blond cornrows and wore shiny FuBu parkas.
This week Justin Timberlake is entering the final phase of a truly impressive transformation from Tiger Beat covers to being taken seriously as an actor.
“The Social Network” premieres this Friday across the country and Timberlake plays the role of Sean Parker, co-founder of Napster and Facebook’s first president. Timberlake’s role forces him to be brilliant, funny, charming, engrossing, and paranoid. With no knowledge of JT’s IQ, the role basically calls for Timberlake to be himself, which he does quite successfully.
The media frenzy surrounding the film has issued glowing praise, tossing around phrases like “movie of the year” and “Oscar favorite.” In fact, multiple critics have even compared it to “Citizen Kane,” which is widely regarded as the greatest film of all time.
However lets take a second to reflect on the third most important person in this decade-defining film: Justin Timberlake, who was a member of ‘N Sync for seven years.
Before we anoint him the less-intimidating Mark Wahlberg of our generation, lets take a trip down memory lane. Lets take it back to when people listened to the radio and MTV played music videos, when boy bands ruled the world.
“I Want You Back”
When ‘N Sync was created they spent a couple years out in Germany crafting their first album, becoming chart-topping hit makers in Deutschland before they were ever heard in the United States. Their aesthetic was the anti-Backstreet Boys. The two boy bands’ music was similar, but while the Backstreet Boys were primarily clean cut, ‘N Sync looked like the kids that hang out behind Starbucks. This video is the European version of “I Want You Back,” which I guess explains the skintight half-zip t-shirt and MC hammer pants Timberlake is wearing. However nothing really explains why they’re on a space ship.
“Tearing Up My Heart”
VH1 ranked “Tearing Up My Heart” the 30th best song of the 90s. I guess it was because the song brilliantly describes the confusion of love at the age of 16. We can thank this music video for the beginning of their use of all-white wardrobes. JT rocks suspenders with a polo shirt and hangs out on a bed wearing a wife beater, branding himself as a sex symbol before his 18th birthday. Also someone brought a basketball to the empty warehouse; there is no explanation why.
“A Little More Time on You”
Sticking with the white-outfit idea, the guys decide to kick it up a notch and deck themselves out in all white. They look like a white version of New Edition. The video is so complex there should be Ph. D classes taught about it. We’ve got baseball games from the 1930s(?) and there’s a guy going off to war. But the narrative isn’t nearly as confusing as is the question of why they put dry ice in the holy water container. God ain’t gonna like that.
“Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays”
What do you do when you have a top ten album and three singles high on the charts? Cash in on a Christmas song, of course. ‘N Sync did just that and with the help of Gary fuckin’ Colman (RIP). They delivered presents and holiday cheer to the unfortunate and hot girls. The video features atrocious use of a green screen and too many pairs of ski-goggles. Timberlake’s love for turtlenecks can be traced back to this music video.
“Drive Myself Crazy”
The third single off their self-titled debut we find the gang locked in a white-padded room, possibly making an ever-so-slight metaphorical allusion to how they’re driving themselves crazy. The most shocking part of the music video is that Chris Kirkpatrick, the really weird looking guy who looks like he could be an extra in “Can’t Hardly Wait,” sings the entire first verse. Here’s a shocking bit of ‘N Sync trivia: Kirkpatrick was also the founding member of the band.
Timberlake’s hair has reached its most outrageously terrible-looking point. Frankly, with all the bleach thrown on his scalp in the late 90s he’s lucky to be able to grow hair. JT also seems to be decked out in FuBu and Phat Farm. Lance Bass makes an appearance, pretending to be straight.
“Bye, Bye, Bye”
The definitive ‘N Sync song also happens to be their most memorable video. The ever-so-clever bunch appears as puppets and Timberlake can be found sporting a blond afro that no one can take seriously.
“No Strings Attached” is the group’s signature album and the videos are considerably bigger budget. All of a sudden they’re casting hot brunettes, Rottweilers, and have JC Chasez and Lance Bass driving a Dodge Viper. Bros everywhere can thank the choreographer for inventing a dance to attempt when trying to be ironic.
“It’s Gonna Be Me”
For some reason the members of ‘N Sync (or whatever evil entity controlled them) thought that appearing as action figures was a big enough departure from puppets. Bad move. The same people thought outfits that consisted of matching acid-washed jean suits was a good idea, too. The result was a creepy music video in which they are trying to get the attention of another hot brunette at a KB Toys or Toys R Us, fighting with toy soldiers and Barbie dolls in an effort to get bought. This video also happens to be the last known sighting of Timberlake’s hair.
The first single off of ‘N Sync’s final album gives the world the first look of the Justin Timberlake they were going to begin to know and love. The video opens with a buzzed-haired JT testing his comedic chops, and the video later features his impressive beat-boxing ability. Here is when we begin to notice that Timberlake isn’t your usual white boy and his Mickey Mouse Club talent begins to take form. However he’s certainly is nowhere near being GQ’s 2009 Most Stylish Man In America—I believe he’s wearing a short-sleeve pleather button up.
I know, I thought this was from his solo album, too. Timberlake seems to have both feet out the boy band door with this ‘N Sync hit. Yet again he’s testing out his physical acting ability, this time as Charlie Chaplin. Why? You tell me. But the transition from random black-and-white silent film to a tattooed sleeveless JT isn’t exactly a smooth one. It’s amazing to think that JC Chasez was once the co-lead singer of this group as he joins Kirkpatrick, Fatone, and Bass as Timberlake’s backup singers.
As we now know Timberlake went from being loved by screaming 13 year-olds to being respected by the hip-hop community. Over the course of the past ten years he has been romantically linked with Britney Spears (pre-meltdown), Stacy Ferguson (before she was Fergie), Alyssa Milano, Cameron Diaz, Scarlett Johansson, and Jessica Biel. He also has been voted sexiest man by Teen People and Cosmo. He was GQ’s 2009 Most Stylish Man in America.
He’s had an incredibly successful solo career highlighted by the critical and financial hit “FutureSex/LoveSounds” and this week plays a main role in the movie of the year. He also plays golf at a six handicap (translation: he’s really fucking good).
Yes, most men would offer their thumbs to live his life for a week. Yes, most women would offer their husband’s or boyfriend’s thumbs to replace him with JT for a week.
But remember: he was the lead singer in ‘N Sync! He wore FuBu and choreographically humped the ground with four other dudes in music videos!
Ah, fuck it. I guess that was cool, too.