'N Sync (sometimes stylized as ★NSYNC) was an American boy band formed in Orlando, Florida, in 1995 and launched in Germany by BMG Ariola Munich.'N Sync consisted of Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, Chris Kirkpatrick, Joey Fatone, and Lance Bass. After heavily publicized legal battles with their former manager Lou Pearlman and former record label Sony BMG, the group's second album, No Strings Attached, sold over one million copies in one day and 2.42 million copies in one week. In addition to a host of Grammy Award nominations, 'N Sync has performed at the World Series, the Super Bowl and the Olympic Games, and sang or recorded with Elton John, Left Eye, Aerosmith, Mary J. Blige, Britney Spears, Nelly, Michael Jackson, Phil Collins, Stevie Wonder, Celine Dion, and Gloria Estefan.
Although 'N Sync announced the start of a "temporary hiatus" in spring 2002, the band has not recorded new material since. The group's official website was shut down in the summer of 2006, and in 2007, Lance Bass confirmed that the group has "definitely broken up." They have sold over 50 million albums during their career.
'N Sync received its name after Justin Timberlake's mother commented on how "in sync" the group's singing voices were. The group's name is also a play on the last letter of each member's first names: JustiN, ChriS, JoeY, JasoN, and JC. The band later nicknamed Bass "Lansten" so as not to throw off the last-letter theme of their name.
1995-1998: Group formation and debut album edit:
Chris Kirkpatrick, who had missed the cut for the Backstreet Boys, met with Lou Pearlman in 1995 to talk about forming a second group. Pearlman said that he would finance the group if Kirkpatrick would find other young male singers. This prompted Kirkpatrick to call Joey Fatone, a friend he had met while working at Universal Studios. Then, Fatone and Kirkpatrick approached Lou Pearlman for more suggestions. Pearlman looked through some tapes they had, and one of Justin Timberlake from the Mickey Mouse Club caught his eye. Timberlake soon joined the group and recommended his friend JC Chasez, who also was a cast member on the Mickey Mouse Club. Soon, they decided to even out their sound by finding a bass singer. Initially, their fifth member was to be Jason Galasso. After several weeks of rehearsals, the group set up a showcase and began planning to officially sign with Pearlman's Trans Continental Label. However, at the last minute, Galasso dropped out. He was not fond of the group's musical direction, claiming that being a teen idol was never a goal of his. In need of a bass, the group auditioned several people without success. Timberlake soon called his vocal coach, who suggested a 16-year-old from Mississippi named Lance Bass. Bass flew to Orlando to audition and was immediately accepted into the group.
From there, Pearlman set the five boys up in a house in Orlando, Florida, where they rehearsed constantly, learning dance routines and vocal parts, and working on promotion for their first public performance at Pleasure Island on October 22, 1995. Pearlman hired Johnny Wright, manager of the Backstreet Boys, to manage the group. 'N Sync sent him a two-song demo-tape including "I'll Be Back for More" and "We Can Work It Out", which impressed him. The group performed for him and a group of BMG executives. Although the record company had some concerns with the band's name and Bass's dancing abilities, they agreed to sign the group to BMG Ariola Munich with Wright as their manager.
After being signed to BMG Ariola Munich, the group was sent to Sweden to begin working on their debut album with the help of producers such as Denniz Pop, Max Martin and Andreas Carlsson. The album's official lead single, "I Want You Back", was released in Germany on October 7, 1996, and entered the top 10 in Germany on November 18, 1996. With a record deal finally secured, the boys began touring first in German-speaking countries and later in other European territories. Their self-titled debut album was initially released by BMG Ariola Munich on May 26, 1997, in Germany, and peaked at number one in the second week after its release. The group soon became an overnight success throughout much of Europe. The album also charted successfully in both Switzerland and Austria eventually selling 820,000 units in GSA (Germany, Switzerland, Austria) region and Eastern Europe. The group released its second and the third singles, "Tearin' Up My Heart" and "Here We Go", both of which managed to reach the top-10 in numerous countries in Europe.'N Sync captured the attention of Vincent DeGiorgio, an A&R rep for RCA Records. After seeing the group perform in Budapest, he eventually signed them to RCA in 1998. The American label had the group record some new tracks to adjust their album for the U.S. market.
1998-1999: Breaking the American market and legal battle edit:
The group released its first American single, "I Want You Back" on January 20, 1998. It reached No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. An album called *NSYNC followed on March 24, 1998. Album sales were sluggish, debuting at No. 82 on the Billboard 200, but were helped when The Disney Channel aired a concert special on July 18, 1998. The concert was first offered to the Backstreet Boys, but had to back out due to member Brian Littrell needing heart surgery. Three weeks before the concert, the album sat at No. 85 on the albums chart; three weeks after the concert, the album reached number nine. The group's profile continued the rise with subsequent single release "Tearin' Up My Heart", which became hit on pop radio and one of the "100 Greatest Songs of the 90's" according to VH1. Regular touring, including an opening spot on Janet Jackson's The Velvet Rope Tour, and television spots on shows like "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch" also bolstered sales for the album, which was eventually certified diamond for shipments in excess of 10 million units.
On November 10, 1998, the group released a holiday album, Home for Christmas. The album peaked at No. 7 and sold 2 million copies. With this, 'N Sync achieved the rare feat of having two albums in the Billboard Top 10 at the same time. The group scored its first top 10 on the Hot 100 with their third single, "God Must Have Spent A Little More Time on You", which peaked at No. 8 in February 1999. Country group Alabama later re-recorded the song and released it as a single that featured vocals from 'N Sync. The fourth and final single from the album, "I Drive Myself Crazy", was a modest chart hit, but a mainstay on Total Request Live. In September 1999, the group collaborated with Gloria Estefan on a song for the soundtrack for her movie Music of the Heart. The track "Music of My Heart" reached No. 2 on Billboard's Top-100 single chart and served as a stopgap between album releases.
In 1998, 'N Sync entered a publicized legal battle with Lou Pearlman, due to what the group believed were illicit business practices on his part.'N Sync sued Pearlman and his record company, Trans Continental, for defrauding the group of more than fifty percent of their earnings, rather than his promise of only receiving one-sixth of the profits. The group threatened to leave and sign with Jive Records, which prompted Pearlman and RCA to countersue 'N Sync for US$150 million and the use of the name. Pearlman's request for a preliminary injunction against the band was denied. After reaching a settlement out of court,'N Sync signed with Jive.
2000-2001: Groundbreaking success and No Strings Attached edit:
With their legal woes behind them, 'N Sync refocused and worked on tracks for its second album. In January 2000, the group released "Bye Bye Bye", an upbeat dance track, which shot into the top 5 of the Hot 100 and spent 5 weeks atop the Hot 100 Airplay chart. The song is often considered the group's signature song. They performed at the Latin Grammy show in 2001 singing the Spanish version of their song "This I Promise You", "Yo Te Voy Amar."
The accompanying album, No Strings Attached, was released on March 21, 2000. It sold a record 2.42 million in its first week of release. By the end of 2000, it had sold over 9.9 million copies.No Strings Attached was both the best-selling album of the decade and top-selling album of 2000.No Strings Attached is currently the eighth best selling album of the SoundScan era which received a Diamond Certification from RIAA for sales of over 11,099,000. The album was all-time bestselling pre-ordered album on Amazon.com.
The second single, "It's Gonna Be Me", became the group's first No. 1 single in the U.S. The third and final single, "This I Promise You" reached the Top-5 on Billboard's Top-100 single chart. The group also embarked on a World No Strings Attached Tour that year. The adventures of preparing for the tour were featured on an MTV special "Making the Tour", which was later released on DVD. The tour was then featured on a HBO special, which aired the same week the group's song "It's Gonna Be Me" hit No. 1 on the charts. The group then went on the second leg of the tour in the fall and performed one last show in 2001 for the "Rock in Rio" concert. The group also released Live From Madison Square Garden, a home video release of its HBO Special.
2001-2002: Celebrity and "Pop" edit:
The group's third album, Celebrity, released on July 24, 2001, produced three singles: "Pop" (#19 U.S.), "Gone" (#11 U.S.) and "Girlfriend" (#5 U.S.). The album featured much more creative involvement from the group, especially Chasez and Timberlake, who wrote and produced several of the tracks. The album was also notably more heavily influenced by hip-hop than the group's previous releases. As such, rapper Nelly contributed a verse to a remix of the single "Girlfriend". The album was generally well-received, but album sales were substantially less than previous releases.
To help support the Celebrity album, the group embarked on a four-month stadium tour entitled the Pop Odyssey Tour. The outing began in May, two months before the CD's release. Over two million fans attended the concerts. The success of the tour prompted the group to extend the tour and add 33 extra shows that was called the "Celebrity Tour". A video of the concert was later released on home video, Pop Odyssey Live.
2002-present: Hiatus, breakup, and post-breakup activities edit:
In April 2002, after the group's Celebrity tour, they went on a break. They originally intended to resume recording in September of that year, but they decided to extend their hiatus because Timberlake wanted to focus on his solo career. The group still went to award shows and events together, and regrouped at the 2003 Grammy Awards to sing the Bee Gees Medley in tribute to the Bee Gees. It was the group's last televised performance. The last public performance for 'N Sync was at the group's 2004 Annual Challenge for the Children, where the members performed "The Star Spangled Banner". In 2005, the members regrouped one last time for the last *NSYNC Challenge for the Children, but did not perform. In the fall of 2005, 'N Sync released a greatest hits album. It included one song, "I'll Never Stop", that had previously not been released in America. In January 2010, they released another album called The Collection that consisted of singles only released in the UK.
The group was featured on an episode of Seth Green's stop-motion sketch comedy show Robot Chicken in 2005, but only Lance Bass and Joey Fatone voiced their own characters in the episode. Justin Timberlake was voiced by Breckin Meyer.
There was no farewell tour or press release about a breakup from the band. Since their hiatus was announced, the only indication of a split came from Lance's 2007 autobiography, Out of Sync, where he believed that 'N Sync was finished and has cited Timberlake's desire for a solo career as the main reason behind this. Since their last public appearance together, the question on whether a reunion would take place has come up many times during individual interviews, which resulted in mixed opinions between all five members.
In nearly all of his interviews, JC has said that a reunion is very unlikely. On some occasions, as with a 2009 interview for MTV News and a 2011 interview with TMZ, he has even gone to the extreme of saying it will never happen. "I keep in touch with all of them. We don't want to do it because we already did that and it was fun, but we're done with it." In May 2012, his interview with Hollywood Reporter has been the latest occasion where he dismissed a 'N Sync reunion plan. "It's just not in the cards. I'm sure that everybody in my group has been asked at one time or another-I know I get asked, I know the other guys get asked-but we're happy with what it was and we're happy to move on."
In 2008, after previously doubting the possibility, Lance Bass changed his answer, telling People magazine that "We're definitely itching to do some music. We've always discussed it. It's always a possibility and we still owe some records to the record companies," but the only thing that's really stopping a reunion is their own schedules, specifically Timberlake's. "It's gonna be hard to get Justin to calm down and get off tour, he's a workaholic". JC later denied that any discussion of that kind had taken place. "We haven't discussed anything like that. I don't know. Honestly, I can't speak for him or as to why he would say that but I know nothing about one." For an interview in 2012 with CNN, he admits that he continues to admire the questions that keep coming up on the group's future, saying, "It just shows me that the 'N Sync fans are still there and there are even new generations of them. I think it's just wonderful. It keeps our group alive and that makes me happy." He went on to say that an 'N Sync reunion could happen anytime, just not right now. "I think that with Justin being a movie star right now it will be some time before he can even get back in the studio."
Chris Kirkpatrick has remained more positive on the subject. In October 2009, he told People, "You never know what the future holds. Anything could happen. We're all just being ourselves for a little while. I think when the stars are aligned, the time is right, and all five of us have our heads on straight and know the direction we're going as a band, it'll eventually happen. If not, I know we'll be best friends forever."
In 2012, Joey Fatone had stated that he doesn't see the reunion happening anytime in the immediate future, saying that everyone has been focused in other areas of their personal and professional lives, and they stopped recording when they were on a high note. However, he has admitted that it was possible for a later time. "You never know. There might be a time where it's just like, 'Hey, let's get together and have some fun.' I think that's what it boils down to is really getting the five of us together and saying, 'Do we do it or not?' You saw New Kids on the Block do it. Years earlier if you asked, 'Hey you want to do this?' They'd be like, 'Heck no. I ain't doing that! Never.' And then look where they are now."
The group licensed their likenesses on a great variety of merchandise, including board games, microphones, lip balm, marionettes, books, key chains, bedding, clothing, video games, and various other articles. The group also had a deal alongside McDonald's, which included commercials featuring the group and Britney Spears, along with a CD and a video that featured behind-the-scenes footage from the making of 'N Sync's music video. The vocal group also had a deal with Chili's Grill & Bar in which the members appeared in commercials for the restaurant, while Chili's helped sponsor the group's tour.