*NSYNC’s second studio album, No Strings Attached, just celebrated its 20th anniversary on March 21.
I was today year’s old when I realised that the words No Strings Attached did not just mean that Justin Timberlake, Lance Bass, Joey Fatone, JC Chasez and Chris Kirkpatrick were breaking away from their puppet strings in Bye Bye Bye. They were a boy band after all!
But seriously, where did that twenty years go?
In the year 2000, I was in year eight and only 14-years-old — and to say I was obsessed with boy bands was a serious, serious understatement.
While I was already in high school, my love of the pop genre, sexy males and in-sync dance moves (pun very much intended) was at an all-time high, however, due to the fact that I was actually in high school, my obsession was relegated to dance parties for one in my bedroom.
I remember giving a book about Nick Carter from the Backstreet Boys to one of my best friends that year, who quickly went red and put it into her backpack. I remember I had saved my money from my first job at Muffin Break and was so excited to give it to her as a present. I was so confused because she loved them, but it just wasn’t cool.
Sometimes I would dress up, with butterfly hair clips in my hair, wearing a tank top and jeans, and sing into my hairbrush (cliché, I know).
The songs were all on a CD, a mixed “tape” if you would, which I had “burned” after downloading songs from LimeWire.
Consisting mostly of boy bands, Spice Girls and anything new and exciting in the bubble-gum pop genre (but always with Sway by Bic Runga from 1997), the mix was full of upbeat songs, love ballads and white-boy rap.
Being the early 00s, there was always a boy band rivalry. Were you Team NSYNC or Team Backstreet Boys?
Guys, I was team “ALL of them” — including Team Five. Who even was I?
When No Strings Attached arrived on the scene, I was already religiously listening to their debut self-titled album from 1997 (I Want You Back — Never Forget!) and strictly from November onwards, their Home for Christmas (1998) album — which I still play 22 years later.
But for this album, I remember conning my Dad into buying it for me as an early birthday present. Two months early.
I can vividly remember holding the (very orange) CD case in my hand. The boys of the band hanging off strings on the cover and the “cowboy writing” of the album’s name (which I have, as an adult, come to learn is a vaudeville font).
I was one of those girls that would open the lyric book and read through it over and over while listening to the songs, gaining what I thought was a deeper understanding of the lyrics, and would pour over the words the boys had written to their fans. To me.
Of course, as an avid fan, I had my favourite songs from the album — and I still do, if I’m honest.
Bye Bye Bye (dah), This I Promise You, Bringin’ Da Noise were firm favourites back then and now, listening as I write (because, well, research), I’ve grown an appreciation for It Makes Me Ill and Space Cowboy (Yippie-Yi-Yay) and a Teddy Riley remix of Bye Bye Bye to add to my workouts.
Listening back as an adult has so much more meaning. The lyrics mean more because of what I’ve experienced since then, and even though life was so much simpler in the year 2000, my love of boybands hasn’t diminished. (Hello, One Direction…— Niall Horan 4Ever)
So, in a world of raging bushfires and global pandemics, I urge you to put your favourite *NSYNC album on and dance in your room, in a party for one.
Happy Anniversary, No Strings Attached!