By Jack Rico
I woke up in Bilbao, Spain on Sunday and checked my Twitter account. To my absolute disbelief, I find out via my feed that ‘N Sync could be reuniting live at the MTV VMA’s 2013. My mind went dark for a sec. Last I heard, Justin Timberlake, The President of Pop, had said no to a reunion and JC Chasez adamantly denied EVER getting back together to The Hollywood Reporter. So what gives? Could these rumors be true? I went to sleep and when I woke up the next day, my eyes could not believe the photographs, later the video – ‘N Sync was real again, even if less than a few minutes.
Now, I fancy myself a “boy band connoisseur”. In my adolescence, I always desired to form my own band that would rock Menudo to its core and crush New Kids On The Block right off the pages of Tiger Beat. That didn’t happen last I checked, so I was left to admire and study them from a far. This to say, I can speak with a sense of perspective and authority on this historic performance this past weekend.
Was this brief reunion a success or utter failure, a hello or a bye, bye, bye? Sorry, couldn’t help myself. In order to answer it I have to break down the presentation in 5 categories: physical appearance, vocals, dance, attire and production value. Let’s begin!
Physical appearance: I know there wasn’t enough time to prepare for a proper diet, but Chris Kirkpatrick and Joey Fatone looked bloated and/or overweight. Gone are the chiseled jaws, those cheekbones just piercing through the skin. Men, this is the entertainment business, an industry where you are judged, yes on your talents, but heavily on your looks. Joey Fatone gets a bit of a pass since he was always a bit on the chubby side. You don’t have to be the best looking dude in the group, but you can be the most jacked (Danny Wood). When you are one of the biggest music bands in history, you have to be at least in a weight class so when that phone rings and it’s Justin saying, “yo bitches, I know I haven’t called in a while or invited you to my wedding, but wanna get the band back together for a night?” You gotta be able to drop those 5-10 pounds with a strict juicing diet and some cardio in a heartbeat’s notice. A lesson served for other boy band members who will go through the same experience (One Direction).
Vocals: If taken care of, the voice box is the last thing to go in a singer, just ask Barry Manilow who’s 70. These guys sounded like it was the year 2000 and No Strings Attached had just come out. It was CD pristine quality. That unique sound that differentiated them from the Backstreet Boys, Westlife, Take That, BoyZone, Five, 98 Degrees and LFO, returned without a hiccup, as if they never left. That’s true chemistry. Wish I could hear more of it.
Dancing: ‘N Sync, in my opinion, were by far, the best boy band dancers ever, even more than The Jackson 5, because their choreography border lined on acrobatics, and even though flips weren’t a part of this performance, they looked… er… ‘n sync. For 5 dudes who have not been together in a room for over 10 years they owned the stage. The set was heavy on smooth, old school dance moves, flowing confidently from one side of the stage to the other. Also, JT is arguably the most influential dancer of his generation (Chris Brown is probably a better dancer, but not as influential) and to have him front and center as your lead, it makes the rest look like Bob Fosses. I don’t think it came easy though. The rehearsals must’ve killed them. When NKOTB reunited and were preparing for their new US tour, Jon Knight was seen on video almost having a breakdown due to heavy demands of the choreography and the mind/body coordination.
Attire: Though the pseudo-suits worked well, they weren’t “Suit and Tie” sharp. Nevertheless, it wasn’t a distraction and it offered a subtle fashion forward sense with the half moon white shirts. NKOTB own the market on concert fashion and the rest of the boy bands should take a lesson.
Production value: Perhaps it was me, but the background center lighting kept blinding throughout the whole number. The all important first reunion pose was a bit of a wash for me because of that damn center light! The rest of the staging was pretty basic. Absent were the screens, special tribute videos or high concept color lighting. The reason for this paucity, is explained bluntly by Chasez, ” ‘N Sync reunion was really about honoring Justin Timberlake, not about getting the band back together for more than one night.”
Success or Failure? The crowd reaction said it all. Seeing Selena Gomez say, “Holy shit” on live TV, Lady Gaga dance her butt off and catching One Direction get their asses handed to them by a real dancing boy band, should tell you what the appearance meant to the music industry, pop culture and ‘N Sync fans all over the world. If Justin Timberlake, the biggest solo pop star on the planet right now, decided to segue his tour with an ‘N Sync Reunion Tour, then only stadium concerts can contain it. It’d be a three hour extravaganza with the first half being an ‘N Sync concert and the second half being his solo stuff. It’d be a full circle of success only done by Michael Jackson when he did his Madison Square Garden concert in 2001 and had The Jackson 5 in da’ house for a 10 minute medley. A reunion would work and work with ground-breaking results. I’d say, it’d be bigger than the NKOTB reunion tour because they never did a full stadium tour. But will they ever really get back together? Timberlake himself said to the New York crowd, “You asked for it”, “Let’s show these young boys how to do it” (a dig to One Direction) a subtle, but stern statement that he has his fans in mind and that no one else out there can do it better than they could if he were to come back with ‘N Sync. It is now no longer a matter of whether JT would even consider singing “Bye, Bye, Bye” again, it’s now a matter of when he’ll do it. Believe it, this ‘N Sync VMA Reunion was a success and will be a bigger one if they reunited for an extended period.
You saw the crowd reaction. What do you think? Think Justin Timberlake should get back together with ‘N Sync? Let us know by leaving your opinions on the comments section below!