Review Summary: Dirty Pop
The final album by the five singers of fortune; Celebrity
featured an NSYNC that had discovered the joys of experimentation and taking charge after No Strings Attached
. In 2001 we were given the final album before NSYNC broke up, and it was by far their most powerful effort. This time there weren't greedy producers running the show, or legal issues to tend to. This time they were free to go completely off the rails, and they did so in spectacular fashion.
I have always felt that the three NSYNC albums tell an overarching story. Their debut is about falling in love with someone and the highs that come with that connection between two people. No Strings Attached
is about the relationship overextending itself as both parties in the relationship fight for control, leading to a penultimate break up. Celebrity
is about the anger that bubbles up after the break up, as the parties involved attempt to move on from the incident so as not to fall into depression.
is a great start to the album. Capitalizing on the DJ craze of the early 2000's, Pop
features a bursting chorus from the boys as JT and JC get busy as the lead vocal pair; the song goes forward with massive DJ loops, scratches, and a hefty amount of editing. The Game Is Over
follows the same DJ rhythm, but replaces the scratches and loops with arcade noises and video game beeps. Both songs perfectly encapsulate the leaps that NSYNC are taking from their previous two albums.
And now for the elephant in the room.
I was almost convinced to give this album a 4.5, but I can't. The sad fact of the matter was that Timberlake was slowly and surely elevating his position within the group, to the point where fans and critics noted JT was stealing the show, a lot. Take Girlfriend
and The Two of Us
as prime examples; where Justin blatantly takes charge in both tracks while the rest of the group fall behind. Disregarding the fact the more talented of the group was JC, and also disregarding the fact that JT is solely responsible for the break up of the group and his adamant refusal to reunite the group in a quality capacity; his creativity here can't be questioned. The bottom line is that JT is a smart producer and an intelligent marketer. He knew exactly how to position himself outside of the band. And yet, this begins to sound less like an NSYNC album and more like the Justin Timberlake Show.
Tell Me, Tell Me...Baby
is by far Timberlake's shining moment (and he tried very hard to have a lot of those "moments"), as this track features pounding synth beats with a large dose of DJ scratching and random sound looping, one of the sounds being the crash of glass on a hard surface. The editing itself isn't just what makes it good, but the excellent vocals provided by Lance Bass in support section, and Timberlake's brilliant lyrical quality. Up Against the Wall
features the return of real percussion and JC's powerful vocal range from their early days in '98. Once again this is a prime example of scaling the instruments back and letting the vocals carry the song.
Here's the harsh reality. NSYNC is never getting back together in any capacity that isn't a little cameo for a festival. The entire basis of them reuniting hinges on Justin Timberlake joining in, and he has made it clear that he will never do it. The mere idea of his name not being plastered all over the front of the album doesn't remotely interest him in the slightest. This is why Celebrity is both beautiful and sad at the same time. Timberlake is a talented dude, and Celebrity shows this, but that talent comes at a cost. So when Timberlake left and released his album a year later, the writing was on the wall. Like Celebrity, Timberlake was looking to make The Justin Timberlake Show. He accomplished it, for better or worse.