Flashback Friday – They May Be Singing “Bye, Bye, Bye” To Stadiums Full Of Screaming Fans, But ‘N Sync Are Here To Stay (Aug. 2000)
Kirkpatrick’s you-go-girl routine is directed at Lance Bass, who’s livening up some pre-photo shoot downtime by strutting around in bad-boy threads: first a pair of spangled ripped, derriere-revealing denims, then a cowboy hat and brown chaps ensemble that’s part “Midnight Cowboy” and part Calvin Klein ad.
“You should just wear the chaps,” says Joey Fatone, leaning his head back so a stylist can remove the stubble that’s sprouted up around his trademark goatee. “They may say we’re clean-cut boys,” Fatone says, smirking, “but not clean-shaven.”
And not always pure of mind, either: One chair over from Fatone, Justin Timberlake may or may not be enjoying his red leather trousers, which are a lesson in style over comfort. “These pants are so tight,” the curly-haired heartthrob cracks, “it’s like I’m having sex with myself.”
Yes, the guys of ‘N Sync are definitely fun to be around—even when they should be dog-tired. After all, the Orlando-based singing group—Timberlake, 19; Bass, 21; Fatone, 23; JC Chasez, 24, and Kirkpatrick, 28—is at the tail end of a 52-city North American tour. Last night they performed before a 40,000-plus audience at Foxboro Stadium outside Boston, and in just a few hours, they’re going to do it all over again. More than one million people have caught the show, putting an exclamation point on a run of success that began in March when No Strings Attached, ‘N Sync’s second CD, smashed records for both first-day (approximately one million) and first-week (2.4 million) sales. Six months ago, ‘N Sync were merely stars; now they can lay claim to the title of biggest pop group in the country.
Success, of course, breeds activity. This fall the band will continue its North American tour, release an IMAX concert film and start work on a new record, with all five members taking a more active part in songwriting and producing.
‘N Sync is also working on a movie, but before any critics start digging up their reviews of “Spiceworld” for possible recycling, consider this: The band will not be playing themselves, and the film won’t necessarily feature any music. “We’re actually going to make a real movie,” Bass says. “We want to challenge ourselves to do something different.”
Somewhere in there the boys are due to get a week’s vacation, too. But first comes the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards. ‘N Sync got six nominations, including Best Video of the Year and Viewer’s Choice for their “Bye, Bye, Bye” video. They will also perform on the show, which means the pressure is on to top last year’s appearance with Britney Spears.
“It was definitely fun performing with Britney,” says Timberlake, who is reportedly dating Spears. “I’d do it again.”
As in Oops!…I’d Do It Again? Don’t get your hopes up. “I wouldn’t expect Britney to turn up again,” Bass says. “But maybe Eminem—you never know.”
Ah, yes. Eminem’s “The Real Slim Shady”—which includes ‘N Sync among the many, many things that annoy him—has also been nominated for six awards. Still, all the members of ‘N Sync are huge Eminem fans. “Love him,” Timberlake says. “He’s a supertalented artist.”
While Eminem would like to think that he and ‘N Sync are operating in different cultural worlds, the truth is that they’re hitting much the same audience. “That’s the cool thing about music right now,” Chasez says. “People are a lot more open-minded. People are listening to rap, rock—it’s just not trends anymore. Hopefully, that makes way for a longer career for us.”
Tom Calderone, MTV’s senior vice president of music programming and talent, thinks ‘N Sync’s longevity “is going to be attained by how relevant they stay with their fan base. Right now, they can do no wrong.”
Maybe not, but should No Strings Attached end up selling 10, 12 or even 14 million records, statistically speaking, there’s nowhere to go but down. “At this point in our career,” says Timberlake, “we just want to evolve with our core audience. That’s what the Stones did. That’s what a lot of legends do.”
The 19-year-old pauses, perhaps imagining himself at Mick Jagger’s age. “By then,” he says, “we probably won’t be dancing as much.”