'NSYNC during Super Bowl XXXV Halftime Performance at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, United States.
It takes some serious cojones to give a new boy band's debut single the same title as the breakout hit of a certain other seminal boy band, but it was a gamble that paid off. 'NSync's "I Want You Back" may not have topped the charts like the Jackson 5's, but the former's tune oozed platinum promise with soaring harmonies, no-holds-barred choreography and adorable Nineties haircuts, with a specific shout-out to Chris Kirkpatrick's stunning center part.
By Jon Blistein
The boys take part in the best photo shoot ever, complete with ridiculous acrobatics, a pizza party and getting super sad while lying around with a bunch of black and white photographs. Also, props to J.C. Chasez for pretending to play a guitar in a song that doesn't feature any guitar (but some rather tasteful, way-ahead-of-their-time bass wubs).
Too-cute alert! It's Christmastime, and to celebrate the 'NSync crew are breaking out the photo book and home movies. Baby faces, both past and present, abound in the video for this slow jam, as well as plenty of adorable embarrassment. (Though Kirkpatrick ain't showing enough for that fuzzy Kangol bucket hat; suppose hindsight's always 20/20, even when it's fashion regret.)
When stardom's on the line, you'll do anything to score a record deal, whether it's dressing up in drag to distract a record executive's secretary or infiltrating a dinner party for world leaders dressed as, more or less, the Jackson 5. Of course, when all their harebrained schemes fail, 'NSync learn the ever-valuable after-school special lesson: Just be yourself!
As far as apt settings for music videos go, you can't do much better than the confines of a mental institution to accompany a ballad for the brokenhearted. Intercut with flashbacks to the misunderstandings and malice that led to each member's bygone relationship, the straitjacketed boys descend deep into their own madness – like Dante passing through the levels of Hell – before finally emerging cured as their former flames are hauled into the looney bin.
A song so saccharine deserves a cavity-inducing video. Accompanying this ballad is the story of a small-town boy who grows up and leaves his mother and sweetheart to fight for his country. A quick zoom into Mama's bewildered eye, her pupil superimposed with footage of childhood memories, may be the apex of cheesy, but you can't not "aww!" a little as Justin Timberlake hits those final "oohs."
As if you didn't already have every shot for the video to 'NSync's monstrous 2000 hit ingrained in your brain, let's recap: It has the blue spinning box, the life-sized marionettes, various chases (in a car, atop a train, through an industrial zone), and that iconic "bye bye bye" hand gesture you'll instinctively do anytime some gracious DJ drops this perennial jam. Oh, and how could we forget the most pristine moment – a spry Timberlake dropping down an airshaft, looking right at the camera and delivering that cute little cackle? Welcome to the big time, boys.
The No Strings Attached hit parade continues at your local toy store. With production values increasing proportionally to the band's astronomical success, the dudes get doll-ified and plan their escape from the shelf – though first they've gotta do battle with some tiny soldiers and impress the local girls before finally getting taken home (by Kim Smith, who also happens to be the "Bye Bye Bye" puppetmaster).
What do you do when you've got an absurdly successful boy band whose members are constantly on the road and have no time to shoot a video for the next single off their multi-platinum record? Montage! Hangin' out backstage, taking pictures on the red carpet, rehearsing, goofing around in baseball stadiums, flying around on wires, wearing space suits: these are all things you get to do when your first week album sales are 2.4 million. (Oh, 2000, the record industry misses you.)
When you're fittin' to get sentimental, there's no better locale than a redwood forest, and no better outfit than a turtleneck. Memories of relationships past float around the 'NSync boys in the highly symbolic form of bursting bubbles. While they may now be alone, at least they're alone together.
Hey, 'NSync, you've just conquered the world in one fell swoop of an album cycle. What are you gonna do next? Oh, just record another smash that boils down everything you do better than everyone else to one simple word, and offer up its visual representation in the form a candy-coated neon party. Also, what happened to the curly-haired one? Why'd they replace him with the guy with the buzz cut?
Oh, how fitting it would have been if 'NSync had closed out their career with "Gone." Still, the track and video make for a good penultimate single: a black-and-white clip accompanied the longing, lonesome cut co-written by Timberlake, which features production very similar to the kind Timbaland would soon cook up for him as he embarked on a solo career. For now, Timberlake and co. play silent movie in a peculiar, goofy intro before unleashing a torrent of heart pangs in an empty house.
The end of 'NSync may have been nigh, but the band still had one more Top 10 hit in them with their final single, "Girlfriend." The accompanying video finds the band hanging out at the local car show, shaking their groove thangs on auto roofs, makin' out in the backseat and Timberlake drag-racing like a regular Danny Zuko. It's a simple way to go out, but nothing wrong with a short and sweet goodbye – or temporary hiatus?