*NSYNC – It’s Gonna Be Me

First Hit #1: July 29, 2000

The first chart topper for *NSYNC is surprisingly aggressive lyrically. It’s not very aggressive musically, it sounds like it could be a template Britney Spears track – it’s a vocal track away from just being Baby One More Time – in fact it sounds like a pop music template rather than an original composition, as though Casio put a “pop hit” present on their latest keyboard. However, lyrically we’re in the same wheelhouse as Vertical Horizon, except somehow more unpleasant. If that song was passive-aggressive whining, this is more aggressive browbeating. *NSYNC will be your next boyfriend, you have no choice, they are perfect and you will see that soon, even if you don’t right at this moment. Even some of the line breaks are odd, with “You have no choice” being a complete thought before it’s mellowed by the rest of the verse, the song putting emphasis on that one line above all others.

It’s a strange love song because it feels less like love than a personal challenge, in performance it just sounds like men accepting a challenge rather than genuine emotion. I suppose the songwriters of 2000 were really bitter that people weren’t dating them.

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One Response to *NSYNC – It’s Gonna Be Me

  1. RBerman says:

    By itself, the song is a cocksure “I would be an awesome guy for you” brag that squeezes in a sly Bob Marley allusion (“no man, no cry”). But the swaggering text takes on a whole other meaning in the context of NSync’s breakup with its Svengaliesque manager Lou Perlman, who had previously assembled and then alienated the Backstreet Boys as well. In BSB’s video “Larger than Life,” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEb2CecR11I) Perlman appears as the smug robot in charge of tending cryogenic capsules containing the Boys, who are released to run rampant around a spaceship and space station.

    The whole NSync album “No Strings Attached” was their own divorce letter to Perlman. The best song is the kiss-off “Bye Bye Bye,” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Eo-KmOd3i7s), with a video in which a sadistic woman, standing in for Perlman, plays puppetmaster over the boys, putting them in a series of unpleasant situations until they cut their strings.

    Too subtle, Lou? OK. The followup video, today’s song, begins with a repeated echo of “Bye Bye Bye” to make clear that we’re dealing with a sequel. The puppet-string choreography is echoed too. In a Pinocchio theme, the boys portray NSync toys who break free from their prefab packaging and, after a series of merchandise-related travails, become Real Boys. Goodbye Perlman; hello next big thing! They’re not after a girl. They’re after a career. The sentiment hasn’t been conveyed this effectively since George Michael’s “Freedom ’90” ten years earlier.

    Most boy bands that make it past One Hit Wonder status want to be taken seriously, not just settle in as safe crush objects for tween girls. The Beach Boys progressed to Pet Sounds, and the Beatles to Sgt Pepper. The 1990s Disney kids (Spears, Aguilera, Chasez, Timberlake) had the additional challenge of overcoming the video trail of their previous careers. The girls solved the problem by flashing skin, the boys by baring their teeth in anger, as seen here in Timberlake’s visceral declaration, “It’s gonna be maaayyyy!” This unromantic backstory explains the otherwise oddly acerbic passion toward a disinterested would-be lover.

    Musically (it’s by Max Martin, hence the Britney Spears vibe you noted), we’ve got hip-hoppy drums and a harpsichord patch punctuated by frequent orchestra hits. The song structure features verse, chorus, verse, chorus, and bridge, followed by a descant of the chorus and a couple of choruses. Too bad the descant never actually counterpoints the chorus.

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