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Review Rewind – *NSYNC: No Strings Attached

Posted by ThatsMyJamRadio on May 7, 2008

Albums you might have missed, but aren’t too late to check out

Recording artists have their defining albums, but few of them catapult those dubbed as clones into superstar status, break sales records, redefine a genre and re-introduce listeners to one of the then-future most influential performers in pop music. Such is the case with *NSYNC’s 2000 effort, No Strings Attached.

In a market that included competitors such as the Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees and LFO, it was often hard to differentiate between boy bands. The Backstreet Boys had a year earlier broken first-week sales records with the release of Millennium, seemingly solidifying their position as the reigning kings, but *NSYNC’s foray into electronica, R&B and hip-hop broadened the pop music hemisphere — and their fan base.

The 12-track knockout began with “Bye, Bye, Bye.” Known just as much for the dance routine in the video, the song’s hard-edged beat pushed the group through an aggressive yet toned-down male answer to Alanis Morisette’s “You Oughta Know.” Justin Timberlake’s beatbox guided “It’s Gonna Be Me,” surprisingly the group’s sole No. 1 hit on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, before taking an out-of-this-world jaunt with Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes on “Space Cowboy (Yippie-Yi-Yay).”

Keeping in line with hip-hop, “Just Got Paid” was a remake of Johnny Kemp’s 1988 new jack swing gem that stayed remarkably true to the original (with the addition of verses by Timberlake and Chris Kirkpatrick). “It Makes Me Ill,” co-written by Kandi of Xscape fame, channels the fluid R&B melodies of tracks such as TLC’s “No Scrubs” and Destiny’s Child’s “Bills, Bills, Bills,” and is the decade’s answer to funk at its best. “No Strings Attached” has plenty of glass-breaking, guitar-riffed fades and beats to create an edgy groove that Michael Jackson could have created magic with during the Dangerous time period.

“Digital Get Down” is a track with not-so-subtle suggestions for the boys’ girls to engage in a little cyber and phone sex. While the notion may seem a little creepy — or a little intriguing — the song’s hybrid break beats-drum ‘n’ bass melody may prove more convincing. No boy band’s album is complete without ballads, the highlight on No Strings Attached being “I Thought She Knew.” The a cappella showcase featured usual lead singers Timberlake and JC Chasez taking the rare action of sharing verses with Kirkpatrick and Joey Fatone.

Though the boys failed to duplicate their success with their follow-up, Celebrity, fans of No Strings Attached say little in the way of criticism for the album, except that Jive Records should have released more singles from it. The album is a strong example that pop isn’t entirely bubble gum, and that hip-hop heads and dance music aficionados can find commonality on such a mainstream compilation. It also began to differentiate the group’s members, some of whom have moved on to become successful solo stars (or at least known for something other than being in *NSYNC). And, if nothing else, No Strings Attached provided the soundtrack for that killer performance at the 2000 MTV Video Music Awards, which blended all three of the album’s hits and gave viewers new ideas on how to mix TV and choreography.

Track List and Highest Billboard Chart Positions:
1. “Bye, Bye, Bye” — No. 4 (Hot 100), No. 25 (Adult Contemporary)
2. “It’s Gonna Be Me” — No. 1 (Hot 100)
3. “Space Cowboy (Yippie-Yi-Yay)” with Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes
4. “Just Got Paid”
5. “It Makes Me Ill”
6. “This I Promise You” — No. 5 (Hot 100), No. 1 (Adult Contemporary), No. 30 (Hot Latin Tracks)
7. “No Strings Attached”
8. “Digital Get Down”
9. “Bringin’ Da Noise”
10. “That’s When I’ll Stop Loving You”
11. “I’ll Be Good for You”
12. “I Thought She Knew”

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