If you can believe it’s been so long, today, March 21, 2020 marks 20 years to the day since the mega-hit boy band *NSYNC released their most successful album, “No Strings Attached.”
Although “No Strings Attached” sold over 16 million albums worldwide and the album single “It’s Gonna be Me” reached No. 1 on the Hot 100 Billboard Chart, the group’s star began rising long before that. In numerous interviews, members of the band have often credited their Disney Channel TV concert special as the beginning of that rise.
While the group had been successful for years overseas, they still hadn’t hit it big in the U.S. But that would change when their rival boy band, Backstreet Boys, declined the offer to do this Disney Channel special. Interesting side note here, both Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC were managed by the same guy, Lou Pearlman. But that’s a whole other story with a dark, deep rabbit-hole to travel down.
Backstreet Boys were out for the TV special, so Pearlman offered up *NSYNC instead. Luckily for millions of teenage girls (and some guys), *NSYNC said yes and the group’s future was forever changed. The TV special featured both the in-park concert and some off-stage interviews and antics with band members Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, Chris Kirkpatrick, Joey Fatone, and Lance Bass, introducing the audience to each guy individually.
The concert was shot on May 23, 1998 using a stage constructed in front of the Chinese Theater at Disney-MGM Studios (now Disney’s Hollywood Studios). The TV special would premiere later that year on July 18. This concert was part of the “Disney Channel In Concert” series, and was sort of a homecoming for two of the band members. Both Timberlake and Chasez began their showbiz careers as Mouseketeers on “MMC: The New Mickey Mouse Club,” which shot in one of the soundstages at Disney-MGM Studios.
Not only was the TV concert a hit with songs like “I Want You Back,” “Tearin’ Up My Heart,” and more from the group’s self-titled album, but it was played over and over again, ingraining it in the minds of every child watching Disney Channel in 1998.
That year was huge for *NSYNC, but also for Walt Disney World, as Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened in April of that year. Throughout the *NSYNC concert, you can see the boy band enjoying the new park and its attractions, like Kilimanjaro Safaris, Dinosaur (at that time, known as Countdown to Extinction), and more. They’re also seen enjoying other areas of Walt Disney World, including jet-skiing on Seven Seas Lagoon, Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex (now ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex), the defunct DisneyQuest and more.
Although *NSYNC went “on hiatus” in 2002, all of the guys remain in various areas of the entertainment industry. If you’d like to hear what the guys are up to now, you can listen to the podcast “The Daily POPcast with Lance Bass,” where this past week, he interviewed his fellow band members leading up to the 20th anniversary of “No Strings Attached.”
If you’d like to relive the memories of the Disney Channel concert, or perhaps see it for the first time, you can easily find full videos online. One interesting thing to note is that, although the official spelling of the band name is *NSYNC, the Disney Channel concert is titled “‘N Sync in Concert.” Another bit of involvement the band later had with Disney was their collaboration with Phil Collins for the song “Trashin’ the Camp” for the animated feature, “Tarzan.”
And here’s one other fun little factoid for you: Remember how I began this article stating how Backstreet Boys said “no” to the TV concert? Just a year later in 1999, the band would do their own Disney Channel In Concert special. I guess they saw how successful it was for *NSYNC, and had a change of heart.
Jeff DePaoli is a producer and voiceover artist living in Los Angeles. He can be heard as the voice of Disney Trivia on Alexa as well as the host of “Dizney Coast to Coast,” the ultimate, unofficial Disney fan podcast. Get your free gift of “America’s Hidden Mickeys: Lesser Known Disney Destinations Around the U.S.A.” at DizneyCoastToCoast.com.