Today, I couldn’t help but pump my fist in the air when Billboard announced the top album of the decade, *NSync’s “No Strings Attached.” While I wouldn’t have admitted it at the time – since, in 2000-2001, I was making a series of failed attempts at being cool – this album is probably one of my all-time favorites. “No Strings Attached” is one of the last albums I purchased and probably the last one I learned all the words to. (With the exception of “Greatest Hits” CDs by artists I grew up listening to. But they don’t really count, since most of us buy those albums for the songs we already know. “Greatest Hits” albums, in my opinion, are more about convenience than learning.) I was never much of a Backstreet Boys fan, but I couldn’t help being drawn to *NSync. Even today, I can only explain my fondness for that band as stemming from the same impulse that makes me love running to Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the U.S.A.” – I loves me a catchy pop song. And maybe because there’s always been something about Justin Timberlake. Yeah, sure, I like the more indie, introspective stuff, too, but there’s nothing like belting out a good pop song in the car or bouncing along to one on a treadmill to fix most of what’s gone wrong during the day.
In honor of *NSync, I’m posting the video for “Bye, Bye, Bye,” because it’s everything the band was at its height – flashy, stylized, overproduced, dancy, and fun.
“No Strings Attached” the album led to the No Strings Attached Tour, which I attended at Giants Stadium in the summer of 2000. We forget it now, but boy bands were huge enough then that a major stadium tour, complete with stylized motorized broncos, lighting effects, and flying out over the audience were par for the course. If I remember correctly, Jessica Simpson and Pink were the opening acts. Oh, and the whole thing was tons of fun. I was 19 that summer and my friend and I got tickets to the show at the last minute. We actually ended up being on the first level of Giants Stadium, near the front, perpendicular to the stage. I really couldn’t see much, but that’s not news since I’m short I never really see much of anything in crowds. But seeing the show didn’t really matter because the whole experience was designed to be completely overwhelming. I actually don’t remember many of the details of the show because so much going on at once, but I do remember having lots of fun. The only person who was too cool for school was the 12 year-old sitting next to me. Her mom was into it, the 20 and 19 year-old next to her were having a good time, but she was going not – I repeat, not – going to betray emotion or interest while she was trapped in that stadium. Anyway, when they finally got around to performing “Bye, Bye, Bye,” basically everyone in the stadium rocked out except this girl. Her mom was dancing, I was dancing, my friend was dancing, and I felt like this kid was being really judgy for not at least attempting to enjoy herself during the hit single portion of the show. I mean, come on, you’re at an *N Sync concert. It’s like Vegas; what happens there stays there. So, I looked over at her while she was sneering at all of us and said, “Come on, like you don’t know the words, too.” And then I went back to doing my poor imitation of the “Bye, Bye, Bye” video’s choreography.
Also in today’s press release from Billboard (via the Associated Press, via MSNBC) was the announcement that Mariah Carey’s “We Belong Together” was the decade’s most popular single. This happens to be another song that I love singing in the car alone (have I mentioned that I’m pretty tone deaf?) and a video that I love for it’s melodrama and trippiness. Not is the video a sequel to the “It’s Like That” video, but it also features the insane wedding dress Mariah Carey wore when she married Tommy Mottola, the plot hinges on a love triange between Mariah Carey, Wentworth Miller, and Eric Roberts, and it’s directed by Brett Ratner. This video alone makes me miss the days when MTV and VH1 devoted a significant number of programming hours to airing videos.
Christmastime Bonus: *NSync’s “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays.” And yes, that is Gary Coleman as Santa’s personal assistant. And yes, I have this on CD.