N' Sync's Appeal Goes Beyond Teenyboppers, Observers Say

Orlando, Fla., boy band's approachability cited as one reason for its success.

'N Sync have proven their appeal reaches far beyond the perceived boy-band demographic of prepubescent girls by selling an unprecedented 2.4 million copies of No Strings Attached in one week, industry professionals said on Wednesday.

"The idea that it's all little girls who want 'N Sync records is a myth — last week made that very clear," said Joe Kvidera, general manager at Tower Records in Chicago, where the LP sold 300 copies last week — roughly the same number that rival boy band the Backstreet Boys' Millennium sold there during the first month of its release.

Millennium previously held the record for the most copies sold in a single week, having logged 1.1 million in its first week of release in May. SoundScan began tracking album sales in 1991.

No Strings Attached more than doubled that record, with its tally of 2,415,859 copies sold. Four million copies of the LP were shipped to stores in advance of its March 21 on-sale date.

'N Sync also have set a record with concert-ticket sales. On Saturday alone, more than 1 million tickets for the group's upcoming tour were sold, Ticketmaster said on Wednesday. The 41-date outing kicks off on May 9 in Biloxi, Miss.

No Strings Attached features the hit single "Bye Bye Bye" (RealAudio excerpt), which is receiving heavy airplay on pop and adult-contemporary stations.

"Clearly, if you sell 2 million albums in one week, you're making a significant impact on the audience," said Tony Novia, pop editor at the industry magazine Radio & Records.

"When you look at a band like 'N Sync, they're tremendous performers first and foremost, but second of all, while a lot of people like to pigeonhole them as 'teen acts,' they're also acts that have brought moms back to pop radio with their kids."

No Strings Attached already has matched sales of 'N Sync's previous album, the holiday LP Home for Christmas (1998). Their self-titled debut, which also was released in 1998 and featured such hits as "Tearin' Up My Heart," was certified 10-times platinum in January.

"There's certainly little girls that went out and bought [No Strings Attached], because they're going to buy anything that 'N Sync puts out," Kvidera said. "But then you have to look at the fact that they put out a Christmas album and only sold 2 million copies of it. It's not like these [fans] are mindless buying machines; they know that they want those songs."

Audrey Fine, editor of Teen Magazine's Web site (teenmag.com), attributes some of 'N Sync's widespread appeal to their image of just being regular guys.

"They're not threatening," she said. "If you look back at the teen heartthrobs, from David Cassidy to Leif Garrett to New Kids on the Block, none of them were at all intimidating. They were all the guys next door. None of these 'N Sync boys are necessarily drop-dead gorgeous — they're approachable."

Fine said she was not surprised by the sales figures, having witnessed firsthand the mania that surrounds 'N Sync. Teenmag.com held a chat with the group Thursday to promote the publication's April issue, which features 'N Sync on the cover. During the first 20 minutes, 89,000 questions came through, according to Fine. "It was just insane," she said. "And who knows how many kids couldn't get on?"

"I get 800 emails a day about 'N Sync, and I have nothing to do with 'N Sync," Fine continued.

The quintet — Justin Timberlake, Joey Fatone, Lance Bass, Chris Kirkpatrick, and JC Chasez — formed in 1996 in Orlando, Fla., which is also home to the Backstreet Boys.

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