Ranking the Songs of *NYSNC’s Debut Album ‘N Sync’ from Worst to Best
Two decades ago, America was in the middle of a renaissance of sorts for pop music, with the genre being dominated by teenage acts selling millions of albums; acts who would become of the most popular and bankable music stars of all time. One of those acts was *NSYNC, an Orlando-based quintet comprised of Chris Kirkpatrick, Joey Fatone, Lance Bass, JC Chasez and Justin Timberlake.
Formed in 1995 and groomed my manager Lou Pearlman, the same man behind groups like Backstreet Boys and O-Town, *NSYNC would first be introduced in the German market, inking a deal with BMG Ariola Munich, through which they would release their eponymous debut on May 26, 1997. The album made the group an overnight success internationally, putting them on the radar of Vincent DeGiorgio, an A&R rep for RCA Records. DeGiorgio would then sign *NSYNC to a recording contract in 1998, setting the stage for the group's March 24 stateside debut.
Powered by lead-single "I Want You Back," 'N Sync would debut at No. 82 on the Billboard 200, eventually picking up steam after the group's headlining concert special on the Disney Channel that summer—an event which would help push the album to No. 9 on the Billboard charts just weeks after the concert aired. With additional singles like "Tearin' Up My Heart" and "Here We Go" keeping the boy band in heavy rotation, 'N Sync would ultimately become the fifth best-selling album of 1998 and be certified diamond by January 5, 2000, less than two years after its release.
In the wake of 'N Sync's multi-platinum success, the group would go on to release their record-breaking sophomore album, No Strings Attached, cementing themselves as one of the biggest pop acts in music history, before dropping their final album as a unit, Celebrity, in 2001. However, the group's debut album will always be remembered as the *NSYNC's shining moment.
In celebration of 'N Sync's 20th anniversary, we're ranking the entire album from worst to best to find out which tracks have best withstood the past twenty years.
*NSYNC hooked up with hip-hop soul pioneers Full Force for breezy offering "I Just Wanna Be With You." JC and Justin play give and go on the lead, with each rising to the occasion, making "I Just Wanna Be With You" a serviceable if ultimately forgettable inclusion on the album's track list.
Written and produced by Gary Carolla, "I Need Love" is an up-tempo dance anthem on which JC tackles the lead vocals. The track finds the quintet yearning for affection and intimacy, but the tired production sounds like any other house song from the '90s.
"You got it, I want it / I'll do whatever it takes," the boys croon on the infectious "You Got It." Written and produced by Veit Renn, "You Got It" captures Justin and JC on lead vocals yet again, while Joey, Chris and Lance provide reinforcement.
Originally written and released by singer-songwriter Christopher Cross in 1980, "Sailing" gets the *NSYNC treatment courtesy of producer Veit Renn, who complements the group's vocal performance with lush instrumentation. Singing in harmony, *NSYNC puts forth one of their more soulful performances on this one.
JC leads the charge on "Giddy Up," a funky inclusion on the group's smash debut album. After crooning
"Tried to get a hold of you last night / Thinking to myself something ain't right," JC hands the mic to Justin, who anchors the track with a stanza of his own before the crew helps close out the proceedings.
*NSYNC show gratitude on "Everything I Own," a song that finds the group crooning over twinkling strings and percussion. Written by David Gates and originally recorded by Gates' rock band Bread for their 1972 album, "Everything I Own" is given new life, thanks to tender production courtesy of Full Force
*NSYNC showcase their infatuation on the upbeat "Crazy For You," which was written by Alain Bertoni and Christian Hamm, and produced by Gary Carolla. Featuring an earworm hook and spunky breakdown, the song remains one of the album's more memorable cuts.
Originally released in Germany as the fourth single off the European version of their debut, "For The Girl Who Has Everything" was also included on the album's U.S. release. Written and produced by Joylon Skinner and Veit Renn, the dreamy, Spanish guitar-inflected ballad proved the quintet were capable of more than just teenybopper fare and showcased their chops as vocalists. It's since become of the record's most popular deep cuts.
One of the stronger cuts off *NSYNC's blockbuster debut is "I Drive Myself Crazy," the album's fourth single and a song that ranks among its most sentimental. Chris opens up the track with a rare, albeit impressive appearance as lead vocalist, while Justin swoops in on the second verse for a standout showing, making this Veit Renn-produced ballad an essential listening for any fan of quality pop.
"Here we go one more time, everybody's feeling fine / Here we go now," *NSYNC proclaim on "Here We Go," one of the catchiest cuts off the group's 1998 debut. Produced by Rollocks, V.D. Toorn, Toni Cottura & Bülent Aris and written by Cottura and Aris, "Here We Go" is a festive composition that has become a fan favorite over the years.
Co-written and co-produced by Carl Struken and Evan Rogers and recorded prior to the stateside release of 'N Sync, "(God Must Have Spent) A Little More Time On You" became one of the group's biggest songs, peaking at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song is also notable for being among the early glimpses at Justin's potential as a solo star, as he turned in an epic performance that would ultimately help cement him as the group's breakout member.
"Baby I don't understand / Just why we can't be lovers," JC belts out on "Tearin' Up My Heart," *NSYNC's second breakout single and the song that thrust them to the forefront of pop worldwide. Written By Kristian Lundin and Max Martin and produced by Lundin, "Tearin' Up My Heart" peaked at No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 Airplay chart, and helped lay the foundation for one of the most successful boy bands of all time.
"Tearin' Up My Heart" may be one of the definitive pop songs of its era, but there's one track from *NSYNC's debut album that trumps it in terms of quality and success: lead single "I Want You Back." Co-written and produced by Max Martin and Denniz Pop, "I Want You Back" reached the No. 13 slot on the Billboard Hot 100 and quickly attained gold status stateside, as well as internationally. With Justin and JC dueling it out on the lead and the rest of the crew contributing angelic harmonies of their own, "I Want You Back" is undoubtedly where the crescendo hits on *NSYNC's introductory LP, and stands as its main event twenty years later.