It's February 2000, and the Backstreet Boys are riding high. Their smash hit "I Want It That Way" is up for Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year and the since-recategorized Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal. Millennium, the group's third LP, is up for Album Of The Year. The band doesn't win any of these awards, but they rock the show with two live performances, including one with Elton John.
The next year, NSYNC's "Bye Bye Bye" -- a song that reached the top 10 in nearly every country where it charted -- gets two Grammy nominations. And the year after that, the group's "Gone" snags one more, though it loses to U2.
Today, the boy-band construct has all but vanished from the pop scene, with the Jonas Brothers splitting up and 5 Seconds Of Summer rejecting that label outright. The last bastion of boy bands, then, is One Direction -- though the group's yearlong hiatus is fast approaching.
With all this in mind, it's notable that 1D have racked up exactly zero Grammy nominations since forming in 2010 -- even among the 2016 noms released on Monday (Dec. 7).
But why? How could it be that one of the biggest pop acts in the world, whose first four albums all debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 charts, has never been acknowledged with a Grammy nod?
It's not like it would be unprecedented. The Backstreet Boys and NSYNC have a total of 15 nominations between them. Boyz II Men amassed 15 on their own, including four wins. The Jonas trio snagged a "Best New Artist" nom in 2009. Even 98 Degrees were nominated (as a featured artist on Mariah Carey's "Thank God I Found You", along with Joe, but still).
One Direction are, of course, a different breed of boy band than these late-'90s/early-2000s heavyweights. They don't dance. Their songs are stadium-ready, rock-tinged and eager to explode at a moment's notice. But there's no denying their reach, especially on social media.
Every one of 1D's five albums -- Up All Night, Take Me Home, Midnight Memories, Four and Made In The A.M. -- has been released in November, typically just after the Grammys cut-off date of late September/early October. This year, "albums must be released between Oct. 1, 2014 and Sept. 30, 2015" to be considered for nomination, according to the Grammys website.
In other words, the band's latest release, Made In The A.M. (which dropped Nov. 13), won't be eligible until the next cycle -- an entire year from now. Is it possible that their LPs, which have all had strong debuts, have simply fallen off the nomination panel's radar in that long gap between release and nomination announcements?
Realistically, One Direction could have seen nominations in the categories of Best Pop Duo/Group Performance and Best Pop Vocal Album by now. "Story Of My Life" and Four (or maybe Midnight Memories) are the types of pop recordings that would work as Grammy nominees, if not winners.
But unless 1D can seemingly conjure up their own "I Want It That Way"-esque global-quaking hit, their Grammy nom total will remain at zero...until they come back with a Max Martin-produced sixth album that decimates everything Adele's done this year, of course.
We can dream, can't we?