*NSYNC 20 Years Later: How the Boy Band Made Pop Music History

Vinyl Bay 777
Apr 25, 2018 · 3 min read

Vinyl Bay 777, Long Island’s music outlet, takes a brief look at the lasting impact the boy band had on pop music

It’s been two decades since *NSYNC took over the global music scene with their R&B-tinged bubblegum pop, sleek dance moves and coordinated outfits. Now, the infamous boy band, made up of Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, Joey Fatone, Chris Kirkpatrick and Lance Bass, is in the spotlight again as they prepare to receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame this Monday, April 30.

Of course boy bands were around way before *NSYNC was ever a thought. Menudo has gone through several iterations since the 1970s. New Edition and New Kids on the Block had all the tweenage girls falling head-over-heels in the 1980s. Go back even further and you have The Jackson 5 and The Osmonds creating those sweet harmonies.

However, pop music lost some steam in the mid-1990s. From about 1993 until 1997, grunge and alternative rock took over the top 40. Pop made its resurgence in 1998 with boy bands, notably the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC, and starlets like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera leading the way.

But it is *NSYNC that really made a name for themselves above the others during that boy band explosion. Following a supercharged start in Germany in 1996 (where many American pop artists got their start at the time), the group came back to the states to release their self-titled debut, which after much publicity, was certified diamond. Their second album, ‘No Strings Attached,’ would prove to be even more successful, spawning the mega hit “Bye Bye Bye,” debuting at number one on the Billboard 200 and breaking the record for most albums sold in its first week, a record that would stand until 2015. The group kept up with the momentum for their third album, ‘Celebrity,’ which also debuted at number one and nearly broke their first week sales record. At their height, the band’s name was being marketed everywhere with marionettes, notebooks, keychains, video games and more displaying their likeness.

Unlike a lot of other boy bands, *NSYNC had a fairly well-rounded sound. The group consisted of singers that filled high and mid-tenor, baritone and bass vocals to create pleasing harmonies. And harmonize they did, taking nearly every opportunity to sing a cappella for fans all over the world. Their sound also evolved over time, going from innocent pop love songs that really showed off their vocal chops to more dance-centric tunes with catchy choruses to a sound with more electronic elements to keep up with where pop music was heading.

*NSYNC still has a massive hold on pop culture and pop music. Even though the band broke up in 2002, the group’s eight years together was enough to elicit a collective nostalgia that never really let them fade into obscurity. Some of this is due to Justin Timberlake’s solo success, which continued the band’s legacy, keeping hopes of a reunion looming every time he gets a prestigious honor or headlines the Super Bowl. The other part is due to their musical influence. Without *NSYNC, pop music wouldn’t sound like it does. You can hear it in the way newer boy bands like One Direction, The Wanted and Why Don’t We play off each other. Artists as varied as Meghan Trainer, Kelsea Ballerini and Paramore’s Hayley Williams all cite the group as being influential on them as musicians.

Twenty years after the release of their debut album, *NSYNC continues to be an influential force in pop music. Though not the first boy band in recording history, their brand of harmony-filled, R&B-tinged bubble gum pop helped usher in a new sound that had not been too prevalent in the US pop music scene before 1998. With the group’s star ceremony coming up in less than a week, fans will once again be reminded why *NSYNC are so deserving of their place in pop culture history.

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This article was originally published on vinylbay777.blogspot.com.

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