FFWDing to the Best Part: “Pop,” ‘NSync (2000)

The Beatles v. The Rolling Stones.  Jay-Z v. Kanye.  Led Zeppelin v. The Who (if that’s a thing). Bryan Adams (the Canadian Bruce Springsteen) v. John (Cougar) Mellencamp (the Indianan Bruce Springsteen). And … Backstreet Boys v. ‘NSync?

This last debate very nearly ended friendships around the turn of the millennium, and I was always on the Backstreet side, so to speak.  I liked more of their songs, they were better dancers as a collective, Nick Carter was cuter than JT, Chris Kirkpatrick’s whole getup freaked me out, Max Martin played a bigger role in BSB song production, and they hit the collective consciousness a tiny bit earlier.

Of course, the ‘NSync legacy has multi-hyphenate and all-around amazing talent god Justin Timberlake to prop it up, while the Backstreet Boys keep churning out vaguely harmonious soft rock. (Nick did date Paris Hilton, if that ups his Q rating at all.)

But just as I — a Beatles devotee — can appreciate the hell out of the piano bridge in “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” I can find my toe tapping at the occasional NSYNC effort. Including this, the first single off their third and seemingly final album, Celebrity.  Often mistakenly referred to as “Dirty Pop,” the song title is actually just one word. Like the U2 album or Michael Jackson kingdom.

Best part? At 2:41 , JC Chasez demonstrates why he is (and perhaps always will be) the better vocalist than the infinitely-more-successful Timberlake. Making vocal runs seem pretty darn easy, he calls back to the lyrics of the chorus in a new, literally elevated. The smooth flow of his descant is a nice offset to the staccato, almost robotic feel of the regular chorus.


Why do I have this bootleg video here? You ask. Well. It’s because the “official” video subs out JC’s runs as described above with a decidedly sub-par attempt from JT! Right there, at 3:06! His entire life of privilege began in this moment!


In the fall of 2013, I purposely tuned into the VMAs in real-time for the first time since Britney wrapped herself in a python.  Rumors were all over the Twitterverse that the five original ‘NSync members would be reuniting.  And reunite they did. For about 45 seconds, with Lance/Chris/Joey/JC acting as four white-boy Supremes behind Justin Timberlake, who was in the midst of an 11-minute tour de force.  It was awkward. Making it more awkward still was poor, poor JC, who insisted on doing a presumably unrehearsed flourish of notes as his former “band’s” portion of the performance drew to an abrupt close. his performance on “Pop” is everything this wasn’t — confident, necessary, and polished.


One thought on “FFWDing to the Best Part: “Pop,” ‘NSync (2000)

  1. Good eye for detail! I too prefer JC’s descant at that point. The song itself is an interesting piece of meta-lyric, challenging the group’s many detractors to quit the hatin’. NSync was always a breakout solo career (I was actually expecting too, but somehow JC never flew) waiting to happen, whereas the more egalitarian BSB seemed to always share the spotlight (like their turns in rehab?) more or less equally.

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