Album Review | *NSYNC’s ‘No Strings attached’

I’ve never been a huge *NSYNC fan. I’ve liked the “hits” but didn’t listen to their full albums until later in life. Most people were shocked to hear that I’ve never listened to their iconic album “No Strings Attached” in full. I’ve listened to the singles, and I like the singles but just never heard the record until now. It’s time to walk about what is considered to be the best *NSYNC album “No Strings Attached.”

But in the end, ya know it’s gonna be me

Released on March 21, 2000, “No Strings Attached” was the first album under their new label, Jive Records. The group had a very public legal battle with their former label RCA Records and their management team Trans Continental. There’s a whole big YouTube Original documentary on it called “Boy Boy Con,” and that would explain well better than I could. Long story short was that: The band got conned out of a lot of money by their manager, who claimed to be the sixth member of *NSYNC. The title of the album is based on a metaphor for the newfound freedom.

“We were all in a taxicab, and it was the first time we finally got our name back, and it was like, ‘This is it. We finally get to work on this album. What’s the concept?’” Lance Bass recalled on his Podcast ” The Daily Popcast With Lance Bass, “Chris Kirkpatrick was like, ‘Something about I got no strings on me… Pinocchio.’ I was like, ‘Perfect. Like, no strings attached.'”

“No Strings Attached” was their first step into the R&B genre, which they continued with for the rest of their career. With this album, *NSYNC influenced many artists and bands into genre-crossing. When they did it with “No Strings Attached,” it made them stand out more than their now label mates Backstreet Boys.

thoughts on the album

The album itself isn’t a very good one. It’s not a bad album, and I can see why it was highly rated at the time of its release. The record is excellent vocally as Justin Timberlake and JC Chasez are heard the most on the album. That’s not a bad thing, but it would just be nice to listen to the other voices like on their self-titled debut album.

Because they are testing out different genres with this album, the flow of the album not really there, it starts heavy with the first two singles, which was pretty much standard practice with Jive records releases. The songs are kind of all over the place. A lot of the songs are just filler and frankly not that good. The R&B influenced songs are rather good and the highlights. JC and Justin’s vocals sound well with R&B.

The lyrics are rather mature for a boy band at this time. They have a song called “Digital Get Down,” and it’s about cybersex. For those who don’t know what that is, it’s called sexting these days. Just instead of being through texting, it was done in a chatroom or an instant messenger. The lyrics were refreshing with how mature the lyrics were. The lyrics were refreshing. The only song that I honestly just hate with a burning passion is “Space Cowboy (Yippie Yi-yay).” There’s no redeeming quality from that song. It the worst song on the album. It’s not even Lance Bass singing it, so what’s the point of it?

Verdict

“No Strings Attached” didn’t age well. It’s still an influential and iconic album, but it’s just not a fun listening experience. The R&B influenced songs are the highlights of the album while the pop songs were filler songs that weren’t so good. I do recommend checking out the album as it’s a pop classic. We are still feeling the influences in it today through Ariana Grande’s “break up with your girlfriend i’m bored” sampling “It Makes Me Ill” and artists and bands using it as inspirations for switching genres.

Rating: 3 out of 5

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Backstreet vs. *NSYNC vs. Britney: Who’s 2nd album will reign supreme?

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With the 20th anniversary of Britney Spears’ second album, “Oops!… I Did It Again,” I thought it would be fitting to rank the late 90s-early 00s big three’s second albums to see which album was the better album. In case you are lost, the big three are the Backstreet Boys, *NSYNC, and Britney Spears. You can fight me on this because we all know that I am right. Let’s dive into this. It’s time to go war in the Pop Project Arena!

Click here to find out who’s better: *NSYNC or Backstreet Boys

The rules

So here’s how we are going to decide whose album will reign on top: I’ll be looking at how many records sold worldwide. I got my facts from Wikipedia because frankly, it’s all there and sited. While I don’t fully trust it on certain things, records sales are something that I believe. The reasoning behind worldwide records is that it’s the easiest to find. Keep in mind; these albums came in in a time where the internet was just getting started. Information isn’t easy to find from that time. Feel to state in the comments below your thoughts and which album is your favorite. Without further ado, let’s get started.

3rd Place: *NSYNC’S ‘No Strings Attached’

No Strings Attached” was released on March 20, 2000, it was the second album from *NSYNC. It was their first album on their new label Jive Records, the same label as Britney and Backstreet Boys. It was their first album to incorporate more of an R&B feel to the songs as well as them having more control over the record and production.

The album spawned four singles with “Bye Bye Bye” and “It’s Gonna Be Me” being the top singles of both the album and their career. Worldwide, “No Strings Attached” sold 15,970,000 records. It also held the number one spot on the US Billboard Hot 200 charts for eight weeks. It was one of the longest-running number-one albums of 2000. Fun Fact: This album held the record for most albums sold in one week. This record was previously held by Backstreet Boys’ “Millennium.” “No Strings Attached” is the album that *NSYNC is known for, and it’s easy to see why.

2nd Place: Britney Spears’ ‘Oops!… I Did It Again”

Click here for the review of “Oops!… I Did It Again”

Oops!… I Did It Again” was released on May 16, 2000. The album signaled the start of Britney’s exploration period. While it followed elements of teen pop from “Baby One More Time,” the album also saw her dive into the R&B genre. She would explore and perfect this more with the follow-up albums. The album debuted on the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 200. It would only be there for one week, but it held the number two spot for 15 weeks after Eminem’s third album “The Marshall Mathers LP” dethroned it.

The album was the highest debut-week album sales by a female artist for 15 years. It also spawned four singles with the title track and “Lucky” being the top singles off of the record. “Oops!… I Did It Again” sold 20,000,000 albums worldwide. As stated in the review for the album, this is the album that made Britney a household name.

1st Place: Backstreet Boys’ ‘Millennium’

Click here for the review of “Millennium”

Millennium” was released on May 18, 1999. While this album was the second album in the States, it was the third album overall (BSB started internationally). It’s also their first number one album in the US. It held that spot for ten weeks. After being called a “one-hit wonder” based on their previous works, “Millennium” was the album. The album had a mix of the usual boy band tropes as well as more mature lyrics based around events that occurred while they wrote the album

The album spawned four singles with “Show Me the Meaning of Being Lonely” and “I Want That Way.” The latter being the most popular and iconic song. “Millennium” is still the hold the record of the most shipment sold in one year with 11 million in 1999. The album is one of the best-selling albums of all time with “Millennium” selling 24,000,000 albums worldwide. This album is pretty much iconic.

Thought?

I’m not shocked by how the albums did. Backstreet Boys was more well rounded than the other two in the beginning when it came to promotion. It’s kind of like *NSYNC as they didn’t perform as well internationally as they. Did in the States. Backstreet Boys performed better abroad than they did in the states before “Millennium.” Britney performed well both internationally and the States after “Oops!… I Did It Again.” I am shocked that Britney did better than her then boo Justin Timberlake. Overall, all three albums are fantastic. I recommend checking them out as they are a treat. Especially as throwback albums that define what pop sounded like in the late 90s and early 2000s.

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Movie Review | ‘Out’

Disney and LGBTQ+ theme content has not always been positive. The “Love, Simon” spin-off was shipped off to Hulu instead of Disney+ due to feeling that it wouldn’t appropriate for families to watch with their children. While I rolled my eyes hard at this, their subsidiary Pixar produced an LGBTQ+ for their short film series on Disney+ streaming platform just in time for Pride month.

“Out” is a nine-minutes short written and directed by Steven Hunter, who is best known for animating “Finding Nemo” and “Wall-E.” It’s the first Disney and Pixar movie to feature a gay main character and on-screen same-sex kiss. The short is apart of Pixar’s “SparkShorts” series on Disney+. The series is a program present by Pixar employees where they have six months and a limited budget to produce short films. These short films are personal and based on personal experiences. “SparkShorts” and the program was created to produced new filmmakers.

“It’s somewhat based on my coming-out story, and yet it’s nothing like my coming-out story,” Steven told Entertainment. Weekly, “I was trying to make a film for my 17-year-old queer self, the guy who needed to see something of himself in a film,” 

The film follows Greg as he and his boyfriend Manuel are boxing up Greg’s home for a move. Greg’s parents surprise him by showing up at his doorstep. Greg hides his life with Manuel as Manuel leaves through the backdoor due to him not being out with his parents. As he tries to keep his parents from finding out that he’s gay, he and his dog end up switching places due to a magical cat and dog.

This film is adorable. When I first watched it, I wasn’t too sure about it because of Disney’s past with LGBTQ+. The story is something that hit homes for everyone LGBTQ+ has to deal with – Coming out. It deals with it sweetly. Because it’s an animated film, the director was able to take a different approach to the coming out theme. We have never seen a “Freaky Friday” take to it. I mean, there are not that many films to deal with coming out, but that is beside the point.

My biggest complaint with it isn’t with the content of the film but rather how it sugar-coated for Disney. The film has a PG rating. The rating is because of the fact two men kiss in the movie. I don’t see how why parent guidance would be needed just because of the kiss. There are many worse animated things that Disney has on Disney+ than two men kissing. Frankly, the film is more of a G rating.

The PG rating just perpetuates the notion that being LGBTQ+ isn’t right. You don’t need to have a conversation with your kids about being gay unless they are. It’s not something you need to talk about like it’s a lesson. Now if they are being homophobic, then that is something that needs to be addressed. But treating two people of the same gender as something parents need to discuss with their children is wrong. While Disney made a step in the right direction with “Out,” the rating isn’t.

There is also a pacing issue with the film. It is trying to get much information and tell the store in under 10 minutes. The film starts well, and then it kind of rushes in the middle and once Greg switches bodies with his dog. It is not a big pacing issue, but it seemed like they wanted to spend more time with Greg in his dog’s body but ran out of time and had to wrap it up. I also want to know more about the magical dog and cat. That was just random. There is probably no meaning behind them besides just being a plot device to how Greg and his dog traded bodies.

Verdict

“Out” is an excellent short film that I think everyone needs to watch, whether they are LGBTQ+ or not. It is just a sweet film that we need more of it in the media. I hope that Disney and Pixar do more LGBTQ+ movies/series, only without the slightly problematic rating. I do wish that the film was longer because it has a slight pacing issue. “Out” is currently available only on Disney+

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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Single Review | ‘Mood Ring (By Demand)’

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It’s been four years since the one and only Britney Spears graced us with a single. The last single we got was “Slumber Party,” a collaboration with Tinashe from Britney’s ninth album “Glory.” It is only fitting that her first single in 2020 would be the Japanese bonus track from “Glory.” Yep, you read that right. A track that was recorded five years ago is now released as a single.

Click here to read the review for Britney’s “Glory”

I’ve turned some hearts into stone
And I can’t hide it no more

“Mood Ring” was released as a gift to Britney’s fan after the campaign #JusticeForGlory successfully got Britney’s ninth to the number one spot on the iTunes pop album charts. Britney also gave the standard edition of “Glory” a new album cover, which was frankly much need. The release of the song as a shock to all as Britney posted about to her Instagram less than 12 hours prior to its midnight release.

New cover for “Glory”

The song was produced by DJ Mustard. “Mood Ring” was also now dubbed “Mood Ring (By Demand).” The song is a sultry and sex dance-pop number with a touch of EDM. Melanie Fontana and Jon Asher wrote the song with Britney in mind. Melanie and Jon channeled the energy that Britney’s 2001 classic and iconic song “I’m A Slave 4 U.”

“We consistently asked ourselves, “What would ‘I’m a Slave 4 U’ Britney do in 2016?” Melanie said to Billboard.com, “That’s where our heads were at. And that shines through on the track.”  During an Instagram Live, Melanie showed off the demo that originally pitched to The Chainsmokers. The Chainsmokers sinned and turned it down due to it being “too girly.”

The vocals on the song are some of the best vocals that we have gotten from Britney in years. They were reminiscent of her early work. “Baby One more More time” and “Oops!… I Did It Again” was more vocal-heavy in comparison to what she released after.

“Producing her vocals, I went for the natural, nostalgic sound of Britney with a modern edge to it,” Jon said, “I was referencing “Oops!… I Did It Again” with the phone-like filter I put on her adlibs, some of her runs and the bridge.” “Mood Ring” is actually Britney’s favorite song off of “Glory.

“This is incredible! ‘Mood Ring’ is one of my favorite songs on Glory, it’s so vibey and sexy,” Britney told Billboard.com exclusively.

Thoughts on the song

I was hoping for a new song that we haven’t heard before and kicked off a new album, but I’ve come to expect things like this as a Britney stan. I’ve had this song part of my Britney catalog for years and it’s always one of those songs where I’ll listen to it but it’s not one I will seek out. I’m not big on this track. I do think it’s a perfect track vocally. I’m not a fan of the production. It feels like it should drop that beat and pick up but it doesn’t. It’s just a slow burn and it works for the feel. The lyrics are extremely catchy. Especially the chorus.

I do hope that Britney and her team actually give Mood Ring the full single treatment as “Glory” is one of the most underrated album in her discography. People slept on the singles and while “Glory” made it number three on the Billboard Hot 200, it’s often overlooked. “Mood Ring (By Demand)” made it to the number one spot on the iTunes chart on release date.

Verdict

“Mood Ring (By Demand)” is a decent song. I love the vocals and the catchy lyrics from it. The production on it isn’t bad. I get it’s a slow burn sex bop but I just wish it would have a little more bark to its bite. The song does perfectly sum up the overall feel of “Glory” and I’m glad that it’s getting the light of day. I just hope that RCA Records, Britney’s label, actually gives the full single treatment to it and it’s just not something to keep Britney’s fans happy. I do recommend the song just for how catchy it is.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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