If it weren’t true, someone would surely invent this story. Five handsome, charming and talented young men from all over America, each with a passion for singing and a dream of stardom come to Orlando, Florida. Soon after individual professional breaks, they form a vocal quintet. They take a name utilizing the last letter of each of their first names to signify the perfect unity of their harmonies. Less than a year later, the group cuts an album, which becomes a monster hit in Germany and then all over Europe. The album is released in the U.S. and almost overnight, the group attains staggering worldwide success and fame. This is the incredibly true story of *NSYNC.
Their self-titled debut in 1998 sold over ten million copies with four number one hits: "I Want You Back," Tearin’ Up My Heart," "God Must Have Spent a Little More Time on You," and "I Drive Myself Crazy." Fans ate up their holiday album, Home For Christmas. The follow-up, No Strings Attached, broke records and sold 2.4 million albums in its first week. "Bye Bye Bye," "It’s Gonna Be Me," and "This I Promise You" instantaneously became pop classics. The accompanying tour sold out arenas and stadiums.
If the stadium dates on the sold out *NSYNC 2001 PODODYSSEY Tour or the infectious anthem "Pop" and its amazing video still don’t convince you, then you simply don’t want to admit true artistry. With each album and each live performance, *NSYNC just gets better and better. Their latest offering, Celebrity, is a collection of great pure dance music that’s made especially with their fans in mind. Just like No Strings Attached and following in the tradition of Michael Jackson and The Beatles, Celebrity is a concept album.
"We chose the title Celebrity because the term is a misconception of what people really are," says Justin. The ability to never take themselves seriously has always been the group’s most endearing quality. Celebrity pokes fun at their legendary status in pop music (just check the album cover) and even addresses some of the issues that accompany fame. Even more impressive than their social commentary is the increased songwriting and production from the group’s members. JC, who also contributed to No Strings Attached, co-wrote four songs and co-produced three. "Our records are just about having good energy, having fun. That’s why we even did a 2-step record like ‘Up Against the Wall,’" says JC.
Celebrity also introduces Justin as a songwriter and producer. He co-wrote seven tracks and co-produced five on the new album, most with *NSYNC’s choreographer Wade J. Robson. Believing they would be a great team, Justin approached Wade about collaborating musically. "We got together right after the last tour and wrote for a week, that’s it, and came up with ‘Pop,’ ‘Celebrity,’ ‘See Right Through You,’ and ‘Gone.’ It’s crazy. We’ve got a chemistry that’s second to none," Justin says.
With so many songs on Celebrity with the Justin stamp, fans will get to see a new side of the charismatic singer. "If you write the things that you perform, you’re putting your heart out there for everybody to either hold and nurture; or throw to the ground and step on it," he says. However, he need not worry. If there was any album that fully communicated the *NSYNC sound, this is it. "It’s great to hear everybody developing musically. We’re all going down the same road and it’s cool to see what they’ve picked up," says Chris. The other guys in the group are also learning their way around the studio and eventually they too will help define the *NSYNC sound on upcoming projects.
"We enjoy all music—rock, R&B, hip-hop, blues, country, show tunes, etc. We’ve always had very musical ears even though people say whatever about us, but we know music and how it’s structured," Chris says. "We know how we are vocally and when we go into the studio, we use what we know to make our sound different."
Celebrity is a unique collection of amazing pop songs that will undoubtedly reach a wide range of audiences. The mesmerizing ballad "Gone" (Justin beatboxes the beat!), the playful "The Game is Over" with its sample from the Pac-Man video game, and the dreamy uptempo-lullaby "Girlfriend" are just a few of the album’s standout cuts. Other producers on Celebrity include Rodney Jerkins, The Neptunes, Brian McKnight, and Sweden’s Cheiron production team Max Martin and Rami. "We’d already established our sound and coined the term ‘dirty pop,’ but you really can’t classify our music. It’s a great mixture of a lot of different genres that include the group’s diverse tastes," says Lance. "Our formula has always been about five people coming together to brainstorm," Joey says. "Each person adds their own flavor and the combination is what defines *NSYNC."
Note: Check out the "Story" section to read about the guys' path to fame. This section is called "Now" because it focuses more on what's happening with the group today. Treat the first as a history lesson, and this one as a present-day primer. Sorry about the textbook references, but read on and enjoy!