*NSYNC's 'No Strings Attached' Helped Teen Pop Blow Up

NSYNC at MTV in 2000
Scott Gries/ImageDirect

*NSYNC's 'No Strings Attached' Helped Teen Pop Blow Up

The Backstreet Boys were aptly predicting the future with the title of their second major U.S. album, 1999's Millennium. The end of one century and the beginning of the other saw a wave of teen-influenced pop take hold like Elvis and The Beatles blowing up simultaneously, from Britney Spears to Christina Aguilera.

But if there were kings of that era, there were five of them in one group: Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, Chris Kirkpatrick, Lance Bass and Joey Fatone - the boys of *NSYNC. They took Europe by storm with hit after hit when they came onto the scene in the '90s. Americans were slower to catch on until they released their third studio album, No Strings Attached, on March 21, 2000. When the dust settled a year later, there were millions of albums sold, tons of merchandise, three Top 5 singles and pure joy for screaming teens from coast to coast. Here's a few fun facts you might remember about this classic boy band breakthrough.

There was a deeper meaning to the album title. The puppet motif of the No Strings Attached cover and "Bye Bye Bye" video weren't just made to look cool. Those images also referenced the group's ongoing struggle with a former manager, Lou Pearlman, who was alleged by the band to have defrauded the members to the tune of millions of dollars in profits. (Rival boy band the Backstreet Boys, also former clients of Pearlman, endured similar legal woes at the same time.) Pearlman was arrested in 2006 on charges related to running one of the largest Ponzi schemes of all time; he died in prison in 2016.

For whatever reason, Justin's iconic pronunciation was intentional. Timberlake's delivery on the chorus of chart-topper "It's Gonna Be Me" has become a major meme over the years - to the point were we nearly typed the title as "It's Gonna Be May." "The ‘me’ thing became really hooky, and became really different…and annoying," co-writer/producer Rami Yacoub later admitted. "But Clive Calder walks in, who was the head of Zomba [the band's label] and very involved with all the projects, and he was like ‘I want more may!’" (For his part, Timberlake jokingly blamed it on co-writer Max Martin in a radio interview, saying, “I think he just wanted me to sound like I was from Tennessee!")

Your mom would like a few of these songs. There's a few nods to the rich traditions of pop and R&B throughout the album. The guys cover "Just Got Paid," a Teddy Riley-produced Top 10 hit for Johnny Kemp in 1988 that helped kick off the new jack swing craze into the '90s. And the album's third Top 5 hit, "This I Promise You," was written and produced by Richard Marx, who'd written and sung a string of hit romantic ballads in the late '80s and early '90s.

This album broke sales records. Even as young music fans - and the music business - were starting to understand the ramifications of Napster and MP3 file sharing at the turn of the new millennium, No Strings Attached was an unquestionable smash. In its first week, the album sold 2.4 million copies - thought to be an unbreakable record until it was shattered by Adele with 25 in 2015.

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