It’s true. I think I might have made a mistake this week. I’ve fully accepted that I destroy the things I love, but this was a big one. I spent a few hours researching this topic, and I’m pretty sure I upset my neighbors in addition to ruining something that I love. This week, I’ll be wading into the quagmire that is NSync lyrics. You guys, that shit makes no sense. None. And that sucks. I started out with the hypothesis that NSync’s lyrics don’t make any sense. I had a basic knowledge from karaoke songs I’ve sung with my friend Caitlin, but obviously I did not have a complete understanding. So with a little help from Youtube and Google lyrics, I pulled up every song the band released as a single in America. I played those songs over and over again, driving my neighbors insane and maximizing my pumped uppedness. Is that a term? It is now. I’m going with it.
So after several hours of NSync-ing, I submit my thesis statement to you: NSync lyrics are nonsense. Their ideas of relationships are laughable, the logic holes are horrific, and when you bring in the videos some of the imagery is downright offensive. And that bugs me so much, because I wanted to be wrong so badly. I really enjoy NSync’s music, it’s fun, the beats are solid, and there’s obviously a lot of nostalgia factor. But I peeked behind the curtain, and I am so disappointed. So for this week’s blog I’ve decided to break it down by album.
NSync’s self titled album gave us three singles, “I Want You Back,” “Tearin Up My Heart,” and “Here We Go.” Doing my research, I found out that their first album was released in Germany, and it was only after achieving decent success there that NSync was able to secure a deal in the US. Their first American release was “I Want You Back.” I had a few problems with this song right from the start. First and foremost, “you’re all I ever wanted, you’re all I ever needed” is how the song starts out. First things first, that is super stalkerish and creepy. And there’s also no way it’s accurate. Sure, it plays good for the romantic types, but let’s be logical. Even if you ignore the obvious prior wants of food/water/shelter, these guys were in their late teens (or early to mid twenties) when this song came out. Even if one or two of them were virgins, they’ve all had girlfriends before. Next we have the fact that if she’s all you’ve ever wanted and needed, the next line (“it’s hard to say I’m sorry”) shouldn’t be true. If she’s your first, your last, and your everything, apologizing to her to get her back should be the easiest thing in the world. Also, take a moment away from this blog to go listen to some Barry White. So good.
Another problem with this song is that they never actually apologize or explain what they’ll do differently. There’s lots of talk of wanting the girl, needing her, and loving her. But no discussion of what went wrong in the relationship or how they can work past it. Hell, they never even say what they like about the girl, just that they’re going crazy without her. I get that she’s the one you want, she’s the one you need. But you need to tell us why. Or at least own up to how you’re going to fix what were clearly serious enough problems to break you up in the first place.
From watching the video I learned two things. One, Chris Kirkpatrick has always been super weird and creepy. Seriously, the dude is the oldest member of NSync by several years. He’s 9 and a half years older than Justin, and he always wore weird ass goggle glasses and had pineapple hair. He was a grown ass man during this, and he thought it was okay. The second thing I learned was that it is no surprise people thought these guys were gay. Every time we see the girl in this video, she’s fighting with whichever guy is in the shot. The only time any of these guys seem happy is when they’re having bro time on the basketball court or when they’re jet skiing. It doesn’t actually seem like he wants her back at all.
The next single was “Tearin Up My Heart,” the perfect ode to staying in an unhealthy relationship. You can see how bad these lyrics are just from the chorus. “It’s tearin up my heart when I’m with you, but when we are apart I feel it too.” Logically speaking, if it hurts you to be with her and also to not be with her, you should probably stay the hell away from her rather than doubling down on the unpleasantness. That’s just stupid. Also, there’s more bro time in this video. And this may be super nitpicky, but there is never a moment when the guys are actually down on their knees during the lyric “I am down, on my knees.” Girls aren’t into liars, guys. Show some goddamn motivation.
As we stay with the lyrics of this song, in a song where the chorus says that it hurts whether he’s with her or not, in a song where the first verse says “we can’t win,” but he wants her anyway, Justin opens the second verse by saying “baby don’t misunderstand, what I’m trying to tell ya.” How could she possibly not misunderstand? This entire song is literally one giant mixed signal. In fact, the only time the girl isn’t getting mixed signals is when she’s getting ultimatums. The guys repeatedly tell her that they’re running out of time and that she just has to let it go. That adds on to the creepy vibe put out by the first single, and is also just a terrible thing to put in a relationship.
The third single is “Here We Go.” This is a great pop dance track. The lyrics are complete nonsense, but it’s a damn fun song. There are no harmful lyrics or imagery here, but it’s also not a love song. I have no complaints. The final single from NSync’s debut album was God Must Have Spent A Little More Time On You. This is their first single to reach the top ten charts in the US. The video is super weird, but the song is very sweet. There’s nothing inherently sexual, so it’s very easy to see it as the mother/child relationship the video displays. Lyrics matching up to the events of the video is going to be relevant very soon, so remember that.
There were two songs NSync released that weren’t on traditional albums. First was a Gloria Estefan collaboration that was pretty decent. Second was “Thinking of You (I Drive Myself Crazy).” I hate this song. I’ve always hated it, and watching the video again didn’t make it any better for me. The mental illness imagery is super offensive, first of all. All the straightjackets and soft rooms seriously downplay the seriousness of mental illness, and then the patient wearing bunny ears turns around and mocks it. There’s already a stigma about mental illness in this country, we don’t need pop groups like NSync, or dumpster fires like Matchbox 20 making it harder for people who are suffering to feel safe getting the help they need. Secondly, they give Chris Kirkpatrick’s creepy as a solo. That was always going to be a mistake.
Remember how I told you the lyrics matching the video was going to be relevant very soon? Here’s where we talk about it. This song is all about a guy who screwed things up with a girl. In the second verse, Justin is singing that a girl confessed her love to him and he turned her away. Meanwhile in the video, Justin gives a girl a necklace and she rejects it and runs off with a football player. Next verse is JC admitting that he should have tried harder to make his girlfriend happy, but in the video we see her doing a Jerry Springer style reveal on television that she’s been cheating on him. In the next moment we see Lance and a girl with a flower doing the “she loves me, she loves me not.” They get to the end on “she loves me not,” and the girl runs away. This one I actually kind of understand going crazy about. Finally, we see Joey Fatone kiss another girl literally in front of his girlfriend. So she leaves him, and he gets locked up because he misses her so much it’s made him crazy. Crazy, you guys!!!
In the last part of the video, we see the boys being released. But as they’re released, the girls from the earlier stories are all being admitted while the guys gleefully taunt them. Now, I get the joke. These girls have to be CRAZY to not want the guys from NSync! But shit, this is terrible. The girl Joey cheated on IN FRONT OF HER just got admitted to a mental hospital because it’s insane that she didn’t want to stay with him. The girl who left Justin, the girl who left JC, whatever happened with Chris (he’s super forgettable, sorry) . . . those women are all admitted to a mental health institution just because they didn’t want to be with the guys fro NSync. The only one on this list that should be going there is probably the girl with the flowers.
The lead single off of “No Strings Attached” was “Bye Bye Bye.” The first question comes with the second line. I get that you’re doing this tonight, but why is it going to start a fight? If you’re set on breaking up with someone, there’s no reason for a fight guys. By the time this album came out, you were old enough to know that already. Seriously, if there’s no reconciling, if you don’t want them to convince you to stay, just end it and get it over with. But when you say things like “give me one good reason baby, come on,” it shows that the relationship really isn’t over, despite all your flashy music video car chases. And by the way, you never break up with someone in your place. You do it at their place or in public, that way you don’t have to tell them three times that you want to see them out that door. That’s just breakup 101.
The second single was NSync’s first and only US chart topper, “It’s Gonna Be Me.” This is absolutely the creepiest of their songs. I like it and all, but look at those lyrics! There’s a real stalker/murder vibe to this whole song, this idea of “you’ll learn that I’m the only one that can love you.” The whole thing comes off as a manifesto written by a Criminal Minds villain. Also, the lyrics never actually say why they’re a good fit for this girl. Just a lot of “you’re just too blind to see,” and “you can’t deny.” And by the way, she can absolutely deny, since she’s been resisting your advances for an indeterminate amount of time. When it comes to the video, there are two moments that stand out. We learn at the end that these guys are chasing the girl through the toy store because she’s the one with the power to restore them. So why did they get distracted by that Barbie pool party? I’ve been in bad scrapes before, admittedly never “transfigured into a living doll against my will” bad, but still. And in all my bad scrapes, when I saw the one thing that could get me clear of whatever happened, I never stopped to take pictures with some girls. Lastly, and this is more of a director’s issue, when the cashier is scanning the doll members of NSync, they turn human. This happens with each one. So why is she still shocked by the third doll? She does a shocked face each time, all five of them. That seems like a woman who is so easily shocked, she probably shouldn’t be working in a toy store around kids. Or around beautiful 20 somethings that happen to be the only customer at your toy store for some reason.
“This I Promise You” is a boring song, and I’m getting towards this post being too long, so I’m going to skip it.
“Pop” is the lead single from “Celebrity,” NSync’s third and final album. Holy shit, do I love this song. There’s two problems, but neither of them are too extreme. First off, the first verse says that Justin is sick and tired of hearing people asking “what’s the deal with this pop life, and when’s it gonna fade out?” Now, they couldn’t have known this in advance, but it definitely faded out right after this album. So that’s fun. Second, JC says during the next verse that he’s tired of feeling animosity all around him. He says this while a dozen women are grabbing his face and caressing his chest. I don’t see any animosity, JC. This feels manufactured. But negatives aside, how fucking cool is that dance sequence at the end? The cinematography alone, with all the flashing different outfits? That was awesome, and must have taken at least six takes to get all the angles and clothing in. Well played, gentlemen.
I didn’t particularly care for “Gone,” I don’t think it’s a particularly fun or interesting song. So this one didn’t bug me to rip open a little. Right from the start, this song is stupid. “There’s a thousand things I could say to make you come home” is the opening line, a line that is proven to be complete bullshit less than 15 seconds later when they admit they don’t know why she left. “Was it something I said to make you turn away?” Then a moment later “If I could just find some way to make it so that you were right here.” Seems to me you were a little overly confident about how many things you could say to get her to come home, since now you can’t come up with even one. There’s a really cheesy line “now that we’re apart, am I still in your heart?”Probably not, bro. She didn’t even tell you why she was leaving. But based on your best inference, you guessed that she needed a change. I’m no expert, but if a girl leaves you because she wants to see what’s out there, you should probably just let that slide. There’s no saving a relationship with someone who left you because she wanted some strange.
Thankfully, NSync released one more song after “Gone.” Nelly and NSync collaborated to remix the NSync song “Girlfriend,” and it’s pretty catchy and fun. That being said, it’s also fucking terrible when you look at the lyrics. Nelly leads by saying that the girl should leave her current man because the guy doesn’t want her like Nelly wants her. That’s stupid. There are also very few moments where they actually express an interest in anything about this girl as a person. There’s lots of talk of her hips, her skin. Even when Justin compliments her eyes and smile, that’s still a physical thing he likes about her rather than her personality. And the last thing I have a problem with is when they list out all the ways this guy must just be an asshole because he’s dating the girl they want. “Does he even know you’re alive, does he know how you feel, do you know that it’s real?” Fuck you for that. Not every guy is an asshole just because he has who you want. Not every guy is Craig Kilborn from Old School, some of them are Cary Elwes from Liar Liar. (Editor’s note: Cary Elwes as Jerry was a great dude, and far superior in every way to Fletcher).
Why did I do this to myself? We’re at 2700 words of me just ripping into something I like. I really should write about things I hate more often, I don’t walk away from it feeling sad. When I did the Matchbox 20 post it felt great, I made sure you guys all knew how terrible they are. But now all we’ve done is explore how terrible something wonderful is. Sad. That’s all for now, love and kisses!
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