In 1998, pop ruled the airwaves, MTV’s “Total Request Live” began its television reign and the world was first introduced to one of the biggest boy bands of all time: ’NSYNC.
Fitting perfectly into the already-polished landscape of teen acts flooding the charts, ’NSYNC released their self-titled debut album on March 24, 1998, instantly making Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, Lance Bass, Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick household names.
While the album wasn’t ’NSYNC’s best-selling record — that honor goes to their 2000 release No Strings Attached — it did peak at no. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart, eventually receiving Diamond certification, meaning it sold 10 million copies, which in this era of music seems to be an almost unreachable goal.
In celebration of the group’s 15th anniversary, we delved into our archives to find their first MTV News interview, which took place in September of 1998, when the guys were in the early stages of their newfound fame.
“I think you’ll find our personalities are just five normal guys … that just have fun on top of the whole music thing. If you just hung out with us, went to the movies with us, while we were off, not touring, not doing what we do, you would notice that we are just five normal guys,” the then-18-year-old Timberlake said.
Normalcy quickly became a thing of the past as fans took note of their pitch-perfect harmonies, their impeccably polished dance moves, and of course, those coordinated track jackets, with their first single, “I Want You Back.”
’NSYNC’s second track off their debut, “Tearin’ Up My Heart,” earned them three nominations for MTV Video Music Awards and solidified them as surefire competition for chart rivals the Backstreet Boys, forcing fans to make the hardest decision of their teenage years: Team ’NSYNC or Team BSB?
But the boys weren’t concerned with competition since ’NSYNC, who’ve helped pave the way for the boy band acts of today, were creating a sound all their own.
“We don’t want to be anybody else, we want to be ’NSYNC,” Timberlake said back then. “Wherever it takes us, I think it’s going to be in a positive direction because we surround ourselves with positive energy.”
After the group went on an indefinite hiatus in 2002, the fivesome certainly went in different directions and seem to have no plans for a reunion. (Coincidentally, Timberlake’s third studio album, The 20/20 Experience, dropped almost 15 years to the day after his former group’s debut). But back in 1998, Bass assumed they would never go their separate ways.
“The fact is we are always going to be a group,” Bass said. “We are always going to be putting out ’NSYNC albums.”