Between yesterday’s Black Friday shopping trips and Thanksgiving leftovers, I was gleefully scrolling through Twitter to follow the social media smack talk between current reigning Brit boy bands One Direction and The Wanted. It’s not that I’m a rabid fan of either. Okay, so I’ve had One Direction’s Take Me Home on repeat for a week and Max from The Wanted could totally get it. (I mean…) BUT. I don’t know all their names or birthdays or favorite movies. My investment was almost purely nostalgia-driven. After all, there was a time not so long ago when two American five-member boy bands tangled daily over the top TRL slot and the hearts of fangirls all over the world.
If you were a kid, pre-teen, or teenager in the late ’90s/early aughts, you had two choices:
You were either a Backstreet girl or an *N Sync girl.
Guess which one I am.
Here in 2012, the rivalry has cooled off to the degree that me (*N Sync forever) and Kim (Backstreet Boys 4 lyfe) can actually hang out and run this blog together. Our friend Angel, that powerful musk ox, knows which side of the boy band fan line we each stand on and suggested we each write a post defending our choice. The point of this exercise is to share our never ending love for our chosen boys and not to bash the competition. Because we are ladies, goddammit, and will conduct ourselves accordingly. Look for Kim’s Backstreet post later today.
I didn’t choose *N Sync. *N Sync chose me.
Once upon a time when I still considered myself too cool for things, I spent a titanic amount of energy trying to resist the rising teen pop trend. As it usually is, MTV’s Spring Break was my undoing. It was this performance on Fashionably Loud, a stage they shared with also-ran (sorry, but it’s true) 98 Degrees and beach-goers modeling the American Eagle summer collection. The hair. The synchronized pelvic thrusts. The cargo shorts and multi-colored button downs. What’s a girl to do?
I fell headfirst into the *N Sync fandom. In a matter of weeks, I knew all the Teen Beat questionnaire details of the lives of all five band members. When I become old and senile and don’t remember the names of my children, I will probably still be able to tell you that JC collected Hard Rock Cafe menus and Justin’s favorite cereal was/is Apple Jacks. Bless you, JC. What a terrible thing to collect.
I’d argue that if one has a definitive favorite member of a boy band, one can’t possibly be a real fan. My love for *N Sync is comprehensive and it is real. I would lose (and have lost) my shit equally at meeting each one. After all, the catchiest pop and most epic dance moves would be nothing without these sweet and ridiculous personalities behind them:
Chris Kirkpatrick, who seemed ANCIENT to me at 27, the oldest member and class clown. You probably remember him best for this unfortunate choice of hairstyle. Besties with Justin, adorable pug named Busta, hideous clothing line with weird name.
Lance Bass: The bass voice of the group. Dated Topanga. Member to which time has been the kindest. Came out in People Magazine. Published an autobiography where he revealed that his bandmates had known for a while and were very supportive. Those beautiful, liberal, accepting jerks.
JC Chasez: VOICE OF AN ANGEL. Stole the innocence of an entire generation by doing this on HBO. Ruining my life by writing and producing for other people instead of making another album. Unwritten rule in *N Sync fandom that we don’t talk about Schizophrenic.
Joey Fatone: Ladies man who married his high school sweetheart. Superman superfan. “Joey would have eaten that shrimp.” Best stank face. Got back.
Justin Timberlake: To me, forever that cocky little jerk with highlighter hair.
The fuel of the boy band fan’s fire is the sheer ubiquitousness of her loves. I filled up VHS tape after VHS tape of concerts, talk shows, award show performances, and appearances on shows like SNL, Clueless, and The Simpsons. I dragged my ass to Wal-Mart after a day of being home sick with the flu to buy No Strings Attached at midnight on its release date. We drove all over the Mid-Atlantic region to see *N Sync’s massive live shows, where they would hang from the rafters, ride mechanical bulls, and blow a bunch of shit up. Even though the set-lists of huge theatrical pop shows can’t change much, my guys played every concert like they were doing it for the first time. We can talk numbers (i.e. No Strings Attached being the best-selling album of the entire decade), but I was drawn to *N Sync because they just seemed to be having more fun than anyone else. It was infectious.
WHEN the reunion happens, not if, I will drop every thing I’m doing to be there. I’ll be there for the hours spent listening to every album, soundtrack, and b-side in my crappy high school car. I’ll be there for dumb photoshoots and bedazzled matching outfits and hairstyles that defy even the 90s. I’ll be there for midnight chat room conversations with other fans and painstakingly printing out the best fic on an old-ass printer to save in a binder. I’ll be there for that time I sat in an outdoor arena through a mild hurricane because, even though they had to take a break in the show, JC said, “If you guys stay, we’ll stay.” I’ll be there for every time I’ve had to correct someone on where the asterisk goes. I’ll be there for staying up late with friends, teaching ourselves the choreography to the “Pop” breakdown. I’ll be there for every Making the Video, TRL retirement, Fanatic, and Top 40 countdown. I’ll be there for Joey in RENT and Lance’s radio show and Justin’s crappy movies and Chris’s new band and JC’s unfortunate friendship with Matt Morrison. They are quite simply a part of my identity.
Also, remember that time Lance was an astronaut?