There are fifth graders who have not been alive since the boy band’s retirement. There are people who don’t know we once valued Justin’s back up dancers just as much as we valued him. As such, it is only right that we, the privileged millennials who begged our parents into chaperoning us to the No Strings Attached tour, introduce our boys to a new generation.
While we were busy loading our five-disc boom boxes with all matters of boy band and girl power jams, we probably didn’t notice certain lyrical themes all that quickly. Never fear, however: to prepare us for what could only be the greatest reunion of. all. time we can now call upon the power of our college degrees. (Hey, that crippling debt’s gotta be good for something.)
As such, whether you need to explain to your tween cousin why this potential assemblage is so important to your mere existence or jog your own memory, please consult this handy breakdown of the *N Sync discography.
While several of their songs fit into two or more of the following categories, for the sake of neatness, I’ve classified which genre each song most closely resembles. Nearly all of their songs adhere to one of these genres, except for maybe Space Cowboy, Digital Get Down, and Sailing, but the latter is a cover so it doesn’t count.
The Self-Aware Singles
Notable Examples: Celebrity, Pop, Bringin’ Da Noise, Just Got Paid, Up Against the Wall, Here We Go
The most meta of the group’s tracks, these songs best exemplify the beat-blasting joyride that was *N Sync. The Backstreet Boys loved you, and they wanted to serenade you until the cows came home, but this band right here? THIS BAND RIGHT HERE? They just wanted to party. And they knew that people would come to the party because it was an *N Sync party. They were wary of the fact that people wanted to be around them because of their fame and fortune and ability to “eat cheese like ev-er-y day.” Though they weren’t the first musical act to turn their celebrity around on their audience, they certainly had some of the most fun with it – or they were marketed as such at any rate.
The Religious Ballads
Notable Examples: (God Must Have Spent) A Little More Time On You, Someone Like You, This I Promise You
Were these songs to have been released even five years later, secularists would have called major foul for imposing religion on ears that wanted nothing to do with the big guy up there. In these current ironic times, such sincerity would be scoffed at on a Buzzfeed list faster than you can say “bless you.” Be that as it may, these songs probably appeased a good deal of parents who wanted reassurance that these grown men were wholesome and not creepily serenading their prepubescent daughters through a compact disc. (And the fact that the God Must Have Spent… music video is about a soldier thanking his mom for always being there? I mean, awwwww.)
Religious Ballads Subset: The Christmas Songs
Only second to Mariah’s (first) Christmas album, this is a definitive holiday album. If you want to feel jolly in July, these are the tracks to play.
The Break Up Anthems
Notable Examples: Bye Bye Bye, See Right Through You, Just Don’t Tell Me That, Tell Me, Tell Me… Baby, The Game Is Over
Whether their girlfriends lied about loving them or downright cheated on them – Brit Brit, I am looking at you – the boys of *N Sync had an awful track record with the female sex. I mean, if such a high percentage of their songs were about confrontational break ups, you would begin to think that they’re not the greatest judges of character. Girls used these boys, abused these boys, and then had to face public shame by forever living in a song. These are also arguably their catchiest songs, which is ironic given the subject matter. But because pubescent females were more often than not the ones who were singing along to the lyrics, these were also our first taste at the empowerment anthem, and as such, paved the way for Kelly Clarkson’s entire career.
The Girlfriend-Stealing Jams
Notable Examples: It Makes Me Ill, Girlfriend (produced by the Neptunes, feat. Nelly because obviously), It’s Gonna Be Me, I Want You Back
For all their poor choices in women, it sure seems like Justin, JC, Lance, Joey, and Chris brought their misery upon themselves by chasing women who were already in relationships. And guys, if she leaves another man for you, chances are she’ll do the same thing to you. These men were shameless, but your average Joe hardly considered them a real threat because hi, have you seen how the band mates dressed in their promo pictures? Matching overalls? Shiny jumpsuits? Cornrows, Justin? Ramen hair? AN AFRO WITH A BEJEWELED BANDANA?!?! Yeah, there was no competition there at all and the teenage boys of the world slept easy, until, you know, Justin shaved his hair, hired the GQ style team, and then shut the whole game down. Touché, Timberlake. Touché.
The Obsessive Boyfriend Ditties
Notable Examples: Thinking of You (I Drive Myself Crazy), That’s When I’ll Stop Loving You, Crazy for You, I’ll Never Stop, Gone, Selfish, That Girl (Will Never be Mine)
So by now, we’ve realized these guys might be a little more than unhinged in the love department. I mean, I get it: love makes us all nuts. Is it sweet to profess undying devotion? Yes. But is it a little creepy when you keep reiterating that you’re being driven insane by the thought of your significant other? Yes. Have we all been there? Probably. This was the thing, though: when I was an impressionable little tween, I’d imagine that JC was serenading me endlessly. I was sure of the fact that he’d love me forever if only we ever met. (And then he released All Day Long I Dream About Sex and I couldn’t take life seriously anymore because that solo effort was just. I mean, dang, girl.) My own adolescent crazy was mirrored in their songs. But which came first? We might never know.