No Strings Attached – NSYNC – 2000
Claimed Sales: 15m
First listen?: Yes
Format Listened?: Apple Music
When I make the selections for The World’s Greatest Hits I look at the total worldwide sales for the albums. No Strings Attached the long awaited second album from NSYNC manages to fall into a second category of big sellers as one of the fastest selling of all time. A record of 2.4 million copies sold in the US in a week that wouldn’t be matched until Adele would all but destroy it with 25 fifteen years later. Why was the expectation and demand so big? Opening track and the band’s signature hit Bye Bye Bye answers that question perfectly. A banger in every way possible, everything from the slick production, to the tight harmonies and the early 00s classic video is amazing and it’s a song that still hits hard so many years on. Much like on their debut the best thing about NSYNC is the confidence and performance of its leading two stars. JC Chasez and Justin Timberlake take on equal parts on just about every song here, with only closing acapella ballad I Thought She Knew featuring any lead vocals from Lance, Chris and Joey. The overall energy of the record when compared to their lacklustre debut is consistently high. Of the 12 tracks on the standard edition, 8 are arena pop show bangers, with a clear focus on danceable pop hits. Throw in the clear highlight international bonus track and single I’ll Never Stop and No Strings Attached is a thrilling pop record. Space Cowboy (Yippe-Yi-Yay) is a frenetic dance bop that features a killer verse from Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, while Digital Get Down is a robotic vocoder filled track that fits into the ‘futuristic’ sound so many pop acts were trying at the turn of the millennium. The knockout title track and Bringin’ Da Noise follow suit while album standout and arguably the best song of the bands career It’s Gonna Be Me strikes gold for Max Martin once again. In fact it became the band’s only #1 US single and gave Max Martin his second after Baby…One More Time a year earlier. As a listener it does get frantic at times, it’s like every song has been constructed in a lab for the sole purpose of filling music venues with teenage girls up and down the country. The most obvious shift for the group is the ownership that Justin and especially JC have over the songs. Chasez has writing and production credits on 4 of the songs here and it actually starts to bring the band’s sound together into a cohesive one. JT’s sole writing moment comes with the slinky RnB of I’ll Be Good For You, which stands as the launch point for his own sound that he’d craft when he would finally go solo. The smooth energy here stands out among the crashing and banging of the out and out pop songs. It’s interesting that the ballads seem like the weakest part of No Strings Attached where they were the highlights of N’ Sync, but I’d argue that literally every song here is better than those from that album. This I Promise You and That’s When I’ll Stop Loving You are fine, but the over emoting is a bit too much like Boyz II Men for my liking. NSYNC are at their best when they are delivering high energy danceable banging pop tunes and No Strings Attached achieves this infinitely better than their debut album. Of the turn of the century popstar records, No Strings Attached is surely one of the strongest.
Will I listen again?: Definitely.
Best Track: It’s Gonna Be Me still sounds MASSIVE 18 years later. It’s a song so good that I genuinely don’t care that the meme comes back every single May.