Thursday, June 09, 2005

Collectibles #3: *NSYNC No Strings Attached (2000)

*NSYNC certainly were the biggest boyband to come out of the mid-90s era, and I'm saying they were bigger than the Backstreet Boys ever, even though BSB were the pioneers. *NSYNC's self-titled debut album had already caused a huge impact on the charts, spurned by the hit singles I Want You Back, Tearin' Up My Heart, I Drive Myself Crazy and (God Must Have Spent) A Little More Time On You.

To date, the album has sold 10 million copies in the US, earning *NSYNC a Diamond Award (given to albums that sell at least 10 million copies in the US). Not a bad way to start your career.

To be fair, Britney's debut album, ...Baby One More Time has sold 14 million copies and BSB's self-titled US debut album has also sold 14 million copies. However, BSB's US release of the album is actually a combination of their first 2 albums released in Europe. So it actually contains hits from both their real Europe debut album (Backstreet Boys) and their follow-up (Backstreet's Back). This is because BSB's popularity caught on the US later than it did in Europe, so Zomba cleverly combined the 2 albums and marketed it as their debut US album.

But I'm digressing of course. No Strings Attached was *NSYNC's sophomore release, and anticipation for it was sky-high. It was led by the massive first single, Bye Bye Bye, and when the album was released, it was Buy Buy Buy.

The album broke first day sales records with 1.1 million copies sold in one day and 2.4 million in one week!!! It was unprecedented and the record still stands today. Most artistes would be happy to sell 2.4 million copies of an album in 5 years, let alone one week.

No Strings Attached would go on to sell 11 million copies in the US, giving them their second Diamond award. (BSB also managed another Diamond award for their Millennium album, which sold 13 million)

However, record sales are only one part of the story. The massive success of *NSYNC showed that there was enough room in the pop world for 2 boybands, and they worked hard to prove their worth.

The next single, It's Gonna Be Me, became their first and only Billboard 100 number one hit. This I Promise You was another big hit and it was followed by I'll Never Stop, which was not released in the US.

*NSYNC embarked on a huge tour and were the 2nd highest money earner on tour, taking in over US$76 million in 2000. They appeared on almost every awards show and were even nominated for 3 Grammys in 2001, including the prestigious Record of the Year for Bye Bye Bye. They even inducted Michael Jackson into the Hall of Fame in 2001. They were everywhere!

For all the talk about their success, it is easy to overlook their talent and their music. While there were only 4 singles lifted off the album, the other songs are also pretty good stuff. Space Cowboy (Yippie-Yi-Yay) features a rap by the late Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes from TLC and it is a stomping number. The title track is another song tailor-made for their live shows, and they opened their tour with this song.

That's When I'll Stop Loving You is a sweet enough ballad, and I Thought She Knew is an a capella track, showcasing their nice harmonies.

To get a better understanding of *NSYNC's popularity, it would be good to check out their live shows, the Madison Square Garden concert in particular. Here you can see the boys in all their glory, their energy and well-choreographed dance moves, which left me suitably impressed (it's not easy to impress me, especially since I'm an MJ and JJ fan, who are dynamic live performers).

*NSYNC was of course, the platform on which Justin Timberlake built his credentials before he conquered the world as a solo artiste (much like MJ and the Jackson 5). In No Strings Attached, Justin co-wrote one song, I'll Be Good For You. The little-known fact is that JC Chasez (aka the other *NSYNC guy who went solo but wasn't as famous as Justin/aka the one who can dance better than Justin) co-wrote 4 songs on this album, more than Justin did!

Anyway, the album is a good listen and I would even classify it as a Guilty Pleasure. It's dancy and exciting, and the songs are the platform for the boys to showcase their moves in their live shows, with the funky beats and syncopations.

*NSYNC were at the height of their careers with this album and it is unlikely that they will ever be as successful again. But when they do decide to reunite, I'll be watching out for them for sure.


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