[23 July 2001]
Dirty Pop . . . ‘N Sync . . . yo . . . BT . . .
Sick and tired of hearin’ all these people talk about
What’s the deal with this pop life
and when is it gonna fade out?
The thing you got to realize is
What we’re doing is not a trend
We got the gift of melody
We gonna bring it ‘til the end
Come on now . . .
And with those unimpressive opening lines, thus begins ‘N Sync’s latest offering of threadbare cookie crunch, Celebrity. I forgot the damn thing was even going to be released until I was awakened on the day of its arrival by this buzzing noise outside. At first I thought it was just the cicadas going nuts, but then I suppose cicadas don’t actually weep tears coupled with cries of “JC!” and “Justin!” So I stepped outside and cocked my ear to the wind. Ah yes, it was the Fans Heard ‘Round The World. Everywhere for miles were delighted screams of teenage lust all thanks to a little piece of plastic. In the years to come, that plastic may take on different shapes, but for now it’s all about ‘N Sync, baby.
So yeah, the boys are back in town and are regally pissed about their backlash on Celebrity‘s leadoff single “Pop”. Hey, didn’t NKOTB release a similarly themed song back in the day entitled “No More Games”? Ah, but I forget that we’re not supposed to be comparing the two groups because as today’s fans would have you know, the boys of ‘N Sync are wayyyy sexier and their careers would never take a nosedive into the BMG corporate toilet. No, no. These boys are the real deal. Of course, owning a copy of Celebrity itself is moot. Who cares about the music when JC is just sooooo dreamy? Besides, you can plaster the CD booklet on your wall or cut it up and paste it in your ‘N Sync scrapbook and hang the disc itself from your rearview mirror (that is, if you’re old enough to drive). If you can’t do that, you could always maybe give the music a listen.
Of course the question now becomes “Why?” when given that option, but perhaps we should just remove our elitism for just a few minutes and try to absorb ourselves in this sound and just see what everyone’s still screaming about. It couldn’t hurt that much, could it? There’s 13 tracks here (with a bonus two on the import release), and I’m sure it’ll be a relatively easy trip if this music is as vapid and silly as we all like to think it is (those of us against ‘N Sync, of course). So we’ve all probably heard “Pop” by now, even if we didn’t want to. Let’s move on to that next track, which is “Celebrity” itself.
Fuck! These boys are still pissed off that no one’s taking them seriously. “Celebrity” hits us with all kinds of image-grappling like “If I wasn’t a celebrity/Would you be so nice to me/If I couldn’t have cheese like everyday/Would you still wanna be with me?/If I couldn’t buy you diamond rings/And all those other expensive things/Would you be so into me?/If I wasn’t a celebrity”. Ummm, I think the answer here would be a definite “no”, boys. But that’s just how the pop world goes. I mean, look at Lance fer chrissakes. He’s got that same goofy look about him that Garth Brooks always has, and yet the chicks love a dude who can kind of sing and bust a move when necessary. Now of course if this tune is directed at Britney Spears, that’s another matter entirely. Give it six months and ask again in her case.
The music itself stutters and snaps like so many MTV ready hits do these days. You’ve heard these beats in countless tunes by Destiny’s Child, Missy Elliot, et al. So here they are again. So start dancin’. Now stop. No wait, start again. Ugh. Now where was I? Oh yes, the next track, “The Game Is Over”. This time, those dirty boys of ‘N Sync turn the tables on their honeys and bitch at them for trying to be stars! What the hell? First these dudes are worried about chicks digging them only because they have sold zillions of albums, and now they’re complaining about their girlfriends trying to strike a similar pose? Get outta town! But it’s true! Dig if you will a picture of you and I engaged in a no, wait sorry. Wrong album. Dig these lyrics: “Invincible/Is what you think you are/But you’re so typical/Oh you think that you’re a star/You act like everyone revolves around you/Baby you dropped the ball/But now the game is through”. Seems ironic unless this is a song about the boys themselves, then it all makes sense! Man this is more fun than hunting for Paul Is Dead clues (for you ‘N Sync fans out there who may be reading this, there once was a great band called The Beatles, but that’s another story entirely).
Ah, but ripping into their potential lovers is not enough for these guys. No, they have to continue to take jabs at girls they would like to flop around with on “Girlfriend”. “I don’t know why you care (why you thinkin’ ‘bout him, huh?)/He doesn’t even know you’re there/‘Cause he don’t love your eyes/And he don’t love your smile/Girl you know that ain’t fair”. Of course, the fans will tell you that this is a song about a good lookin’ stud (probably Lance or Joey) trying to keep a girl protected from a potential jerk! Ah, but I see the Devil in their eyes as they bleat “Won’t you be my girlfriend/I’ll treat you good (I’ll treat you good girl)/I know you hear your friends when they say you should”. OK, so maybe the guys are trying to hook Joey up in this one. Poor guy.
Of course, ‘N Sync can’t help but drop the token “naughty” track in their albums anymore. This one’s for all the ladies who are at least 16, if ya know what I mean (and I think you do). Ever since “Digital Getdown” was such the rage on No Strings Attached, the ‘N Sync boys just couldn’t keep it out of their pants and this time have delivered the goods in “The Two of Us”. “You see I toss and turn when I’m alone/And I just can’t wait till you get home/Waiting for your call ‘cause tonight we’re gonna do it all”. Wait, are they talking about actual sex this time, or just fucking about on their keyboards again? Oh, the ambivalence! But it doesn’t matter because the next track “Gone” forces the kids to bemoan the loss of their beautiful babies (“Who’s the big winner tonight? Mikey!”). I’m not even going to get into this one because it’s so bland. Oh wait, so’s the rest of this album, but this song is just your run of the mill girl leaves guy/guy cries/fans cry/‘N Sync scores some new honeys.
The bitching doesn’t cease on “Tell Me, Tell Me . . . Baby” as the guys try to figure out why their honeys (and yes, they actually use the term “honey” in this one) don’t actually “love” them. Ah, damn that fame. Ain’t it a bitch, eh boys? Then they try to update the glorious “Get It Right The First Time” by Billy Joel on “Up Against The Wall” by once again turning “nastay”. Dance your ass off to the groove, baby! “She took my hand/We never said a word at all/We started grinding/Shorty had me up against the wall/Ask me about tomorrow/You know I don’t care at all/I just got caught up when/She had me up against the wall/Shorty had me up against the wall”. So far we’ve learned that ‘N Sync hates being loved only for their celebrity status, doesn’t want their own girls to act like stars, wants to steal other guys’ chicks away, likes to think about having sex during the day, breaks down and tries to take it like a man when their girls leave them, and finally just says to hell with it and dry humps some skank on the dance floor. Damn, that’s sad, really. Ah but the fans don’t care! Those guys are HOT!
The same shit continues on in “See Right Through You” and “Selfish”. On the former, the boys bitch once again about any girl that would dare play games with them, while on the latter they can’t understand why any girl wouldn’t possibly want to be with them. Jesus, is Celebrity nothing more than an entire vanity project? Ah, but who listens to the words? Those guys are HOT! The dissing continues on “Just Don’t Tell Me That” where ‘N Sync bemoans the fact that one of their hangers-on spends time at the Playboy Mansion (yeah, I’m sure that’s gotta be a real pain in the ass, guys) and wants to have her picture taken with them. OK, personally I’m sick of the “don’t love us because we’re stars” routine. It isn’t believable. Especially when they keep putting their would-be girlfriends down for trying to achieve similar status, or for turning the guys away completely when they actually gain some common sense.
Celebrity closes with another burning love tune in “Something Like You” and the hold your head up semantics of “Do Your Thing”. But ultimately ‘N Sync doesn’t care if you do your own thing or not. What they have proven on this album is that they enjoy flaunting their own image while at the same time playing a candy-ass game of “don’t like us only for our status”. Oh yeah, they want respect this time around, but only for themselves. When it comes to their fans and lovers, they turn their list of needs into a typical set of double-standard bullshit. Shame on you, boys. One of these days your fans are going to actually start listening to your music and realize how empty you actually are. Gentlemen, your fifteen minutes are about up.
Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/nsync-celebrity/