For too long, our society has been at war with one another because of two opposing sides or ideals. Most of these conflicts have no answer, yet we continue to battle with each other foolishly: Democrats versus Republicans, the Hatfields versus the McCoys, Coke versus Pepsi, Romeo’s family versus Juliet’s family, dinosaurs versus cavemen, The Simpsons versus Family Guy, Batman versus Superman, Kate Upton is hot versus Kate Upton is fat. The list goes on and on.
Today, I’m going to settle one of our generation’s greatest quandaries that has divided us for almost two decades and shows no signs of stopping: *NSYNC versus the Backstreet Boys. In this case, there is a clear and present winner. The Backstreet Boys are easily the better band, and anyone who disagrees is just completely and 100 percent wrong.
You can’t deny that *NSYNC was a successful band. Remember No Strings Attached? That fucking thing sold 2.4 million albums in its first week of sales. That’s like Frampton Comes Alive levels of ridiculous sales. *NSYNC still holds the record for most albums sold in a week. In fact, those guys hold the number two spot as well with Celebrity. For reference, the Backstreet Boys are number four on that list with Black and Blue. But if you want to talk about TOTAL albums sold? The Backstreet Boys clock in at somewhere in the neighborhood of one hundred million sold.
That’s right. One hundred million. Century club. That puts them on the same level as Bon Jovi, Fleetwood Mac, Prince, Van Halen, the Beach Boys, Lionel Richie, and Bob FREAKING Dylan. No joke. *NSYNC clocks in at somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty mil. Respectable, but you know what’s cooler than selling fifty million albums? Selling one hundred million albums.
Also, if you want to talk about how well their albums sold, not one but two Backstreet Boys albums are among the best-selling albums of all time. Backstreet Boys and Millennium sold twenty-four million copies each. The Backstreet Boys are the best-selling boy band of all time, even beating out the Jackson 5. You know who comes in at number eight? *NSYNC. More like *NSTINK, amirite? (Just kidding, I love you JT.)
When it comes to individual member fame, *NSYNC easily has the Backstreet Boys beat. How many BSB members can you name? Nick Carter, for sure, and that’s at least partially because of his shitbox little brother. Maybe you remember A.J. McLean. Maybe. The rest? Who knows. But everyone knows Lance Bass, Joey Fatone, Chris Kirkpatrick, JC Chasez, and the last one — what’s his name? Oh yeah, Justin fucking Timberlake. *NSYNC’s overall fame cannot be denied. They guest-starred on, quite possibly, one of the best Simpsons episodes of all time (certainly one of the best of the non-classic era) “New Kids on the Blecch.” Can I get a “word”?
However, I’m gonna go ahead and make the bold statement that *NSYNC was little more than Justin Timberlake’s backup band, and that’s all they ever were, because the minute Justified dropped and JT strutted his stuff at the 2002 VMAs introducing “Like I Love You,” the band was pretty much finished. The Backstreet Boys are still recording, still performing, and they even have a documentary coming out at the end of the month. That’s pretty sick.
Both bands clearly have some epic fucking jams that will echo in our heads from now until the day we expire, and some of them might even follow us beyond the grave. I personally want “Bye Bye Bye” played at my funeral so the infectious chorus and “dope beats” can carry me to Valhalla. And when it comes to Yuletide music, *NSYNC has BSB beat to hell with “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays.”
But my real test of their songs would be to imagine yourself in a crowded bar filled with jaded, tired, overworked postgrads who grew up in the ’90s. What *NSYNC songs could you put on that would make them lose their fucking minds? “Bye Bye Bye,” “It’s Gonna Be Me,” and “Pop.” Maybe “Tearin’ Up My Heart.” Four songs — that’s it.
Backstreet Boys? Guaranteed you could put on just about any one of their singles and those people would lose their fucking minds. “Larger Than Life,” “Quit Playing Games (With My Heart),” “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back),” “As Long As You Love Me,” and, of course, “I Want It That Way.” Even slower songs like “All I Have To Give,” “I’ll Never Break Your Heart,” and “Show Me The Meaning of Being Lonely” can bring down the house when played at the right time. And you know Every. Fucking. Word.
To be honest, the comparisons here are pretty much meaningless. We’re talking about two music groups that took the world by storm, sold millions and millions of albums, and made panties drop on a global scale. It’s like asking someone if he would rather have a Mercedes or a BMW. No matter what you choose, you’re gonna be filled with ’90s boy band-induced nostalgia.
But I think that if you want to pick a clear number one and settle this argument once and for all, the Backstreet Boys are the superior boy band. Album sales reflect that, the strength of the group reflects that, and the quality and volume of their hit songs reflect that. *NSYNC is nothing more than Justin Timberlake’s backup act. One of the best backup acts of all time, to be sure, but a backup band nonetheless. When the overhyped “*NSYNC reunion” at the VMAs last year turned out to be little more than the members of the band dancing behind JT, that sealed *NSYNC’s place in history.
Backstreet’s Back? More like Backstreet never left, motherfuckers..