I believe I have mentioned in the past that I was a huge Nsync fan when I was younger. I had my favorite member (JC) the board game, the PC game, the teddy bears, the dolls, etc. And when I moved on to bigger and better music, for some reason I couldn’t get rid of the albums and I’m glad I didn’t. Their second release is probably their best and still their most popular today. Because they left behind their record company and their sleazy manager Lou Pearlman at the time, the boys were able to have fun and mix in R&B elements on this record. What we get is a solid, fun album full of songs that you’ll never forget.
Of course the album opens with the ever so popular “Bye Bye Bye.” This song is just awesome. Admit it, you love singing it while doing the dance that went with it. With this song, we can already see the different direction of the album. The music here is heavier and a bit more aggressive than what was found on their debut. Not only is it catchy, but it can have a double meaning. The lyrics refer to leaving a girl who is manipulative, but it can also relate to them leaving scumbag manager Lou Pearlman. Either way, it’s still a great song even though Justin sounds like a sheep braying.
“It’s Gonna Be Me” follows the same format with the punchy music and the infectious lyrics. What makes this song great is how music sounds weird, but it’s playful and upbeat too. It even has this circus like feel to it. But of course you can’t help but think of the music video where they turn into dolls when you hear this. For me, the song is notable because of the way Justin sings. I always said he sounds like a sheep here because he overemphasizes everything. He sings “It’s gonna be meh!” and it gets me every time. The next song “Space Cowboy” is still pretty fun, but it is weird. What is a space cowboy anyway? It’s like they mixed their boyhood dream jobs and made them into one ambitious career path. Either way the chorus of “Why-yi-yi-yippie-yi-yay-yippie-yi-yo-yippie-yi-yay” may be silly, but super fun to sing. You also gotta give up to the boys for getting Lisa “Lefteye” Lopez on the track. Even though there are times where it sounds like her rap doesn’t fit in, but for the most part, it’s still pretty bad ass.
For the most part, the songs are upbeat and fun to put you in a good mood. They do a faithful cover of “Just Got Paid,” which most people can relate to and “Makes Me Ill” is filled with the most pleasing, odd music ever, even though the weird message by Justin at the end is unnecessary. One of the best, most confusing, and oddest songs here is “Digital Getdown.” This is their naughty song and they don’t hide it: “Baby baby we can do all that we want/We’re gettin nasty nasty, we’re getting freaky deaky.” If anything, they’re more creepy here, especially with lines like “Every time I’m sittin home alone girl/I can’t wait to get you on the phone girl/So pick it up babe I can see everything you do.” He sounds more like a stalker to me. To think that they were trying to get freaky on this track is hilarious, but the digital inspired music that makes you feel like you’re inside a computer is infectious. Also, the song is pretty weird because it seems to either be about an internet only relationship or porn. I think it’s the former, but you could easily relate it to the latter.
As usual, there are quite a few slow songs here and most of them are pretty sappy. “This I Promise You” and “That’s When I’ll Stop Loving You” are sweet in their own cheesy way, but overall they’re corny and filled with cliches. But the fact that they sound good makes up for it. The best slow track here is the closer “I Thought She Knew.” One thing that makes this song different from the others is that it’s performed acapella. As I’ve said before, these guys are really good when it comes to acapella. Their voices sound so smooth together. We also get a chance to hear Joey Fatone sing and he is really good. For such a big guy he actually has a pretty light voice. Also, the song is more thoughtful than the others. It doesn’t come off as sappy or corny. It’s really beautiful and may be their best slow song.
Overall, the album gets 8/10. This album is great because the boys are less bubble gum pop here. They mix in R&B elements and at times heavier music. The songs are fun and infectious and even if some of them are cheesy, they’re still pretty good. This is far better than their debut, which was filled with manufactured beats and super cheesy lyrics. The album is still solid after all these years and reminds us why they were one of the most popular boy bands of their time.