By Jon Wiederhorn
It was over in under two minutes, but during that 90-plus seconds of MTV Video Music Awards air time, young pop fans received a glimpse of music history and older viewers witnessed something they've waited 11 years for – the reunion of legendary '90s boy band, 'N Sync.
It was unquestionably one of the highlights of the evening, and something fans and stars alike are still talking about
"It's funny to see the reaction from the different celebrities that tweeted out, because you forget that they were children in the height of our career," Lance Bass said Monday night on his Sirius XM show "Dirty Pop With Lance Bass."
"The Taylor Swifts, the Selena Gomezes; Hayley [Williams] from Paramore. All these people were tweeting [and] crying. Seeing them flip out over it and bringing them back to when they were 12 years old is really cute."
The big reunion took place during the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard performance that honored Justin Timberlake. 'N Sync sang a medley of the hits "Girlfriend" and "Bye Bye Bye," and nailed both.
Rumors that 'N Sync would perform at the VMAs had circulated for about a week; then on August 24 the group added fuel to the fire by joining Twitter and tweeting, "Mic check, mic check one.. two... is this thing on?!" In no time, 'N Sync – Timberlake, Joey Fatone, Lance Bass, Chris Kirkpatrick, and JC Chasez – had amassed more than 100,000 followers.
Even so, 'N Sync proceeded as if the cat were still inside the bag. They showed up at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn at 1:30 the day of the show for a 2 p.m. rehearsal. Then, they remained in their dressing room until show time, skipping the red carpet ceremonies to try to keep their already leaked secret.
"Before we went onstage we'd been there for nine hours," Kirkpatrick told Johnnyshouse.com. "I was just going nuts. It was funny because we couldn't even change the TV and it was just [images of] that new moonman spinning. I thought I was in some bad episode of 'Big Brother' where it’s this psycho room and I have to deal with these guys I haven't dealt with in 10 years and they have to deal with me."
Since there was no backstage area, 'N Sync dressed up like stagehands and entered through the crowd. "We had these hoodies on and we were pushing the equipment," Bass said. "We would push out the stage and do all the stagehand stuff until we got to the area we needed to, and then we hid out beneath a staircase."
While there were lots of laughs and memories exchanged both before and after the show, there was also a bit of friction. For their performance, 'N Sync entered the stage via elevators and exited the same way while Timberlake continued to perform songs that spanned his career. As they waited to go on, Kirkpatrick and Bass argued about which direction they should face when they finished their medley.
According to Bass: "I said, 'We’re gonna end 'Bye Bye Bye' facing the front, and then still facing the front go [back] down in the elevators waving or bowing,' And [Chris] said, 'No, no, no. We have to turn our backs around because Justin's still performing. This is all about Justin.' I’m like, 'The cameras are gonna be on him. He's off doing the next song. I'm just saying, don't turn your backs on the audience in the arena.' And he said, 'No, no, we're not doing that.' And the other guys are like, 'No, we’re facing the front.'"
Ironically, at the end of the medley, Kirkpatrick's elevator got stuck and he was stranded for a moment onstage. "He had to jump through Joey's hole [to get back down]," Bass said, then laughed. "And when he got down I said, 'Oh, uh-huh. Now who's taking up all the attention.' He was so pissed.'"
"It was funny," Kirkpatrick said. "All of us getting back together, we remembered what we liked about each other and what we hated about each other. But it was just a lot of fun and I think every one of us – even JC, the quiet one – was enjoying the moment and reveling in what Justin had accomplished and [we were all] really honored by the fact he asked us to come and perform for him and [acknowledged that] we were a big part of his life."
Timberlake came up with the idea of reuniting 'N Sync after he was asked by MTV to perform at the VMAs. In order to fully celebrate his career, he decided he needed to pay homage to the group with which he first became famous. Over the years, he has remained close to Kirkpatrick, so without telling anyone at MTV he called up the singer to see if he was interested.
"About two and a half weeks ago I was in the studio working and I get a phone call from Justin," said Kirkpatrick. "I’m like, 'What is he calling me for? I just talked to him a week ago. Him and I usually talk once a month. So we're on the phone and we're talking forever just like normal. I'm about to hang up. And then he goes, 'But there’s another reason I called you. And then he said he was getting the Video Vanguard award and he asked if we'd be interested in going up and performing with him. I was just like, 'Are you kidding me?' It was an honor for us."
Since leaving the limelight, Kirkpatrick has continued to produce and perform and he appeared on the CMT reality show "Gone Country." But that didn't prepare him for the rigorous physical exertion of being back on stage with 'N Sync, even for 90 seconds.
"When Justin talked to us, I honestly thought we were just coming out with mic stands and singing," said Kirkpatrick. "When I came back from rehearsal, my girl’s like, 'Why are you drenched?' She said, 'I guess you're not just standing there singing.' And I said, 'I'm too old for this, babe. This is crazy.' But it was awesome."
Even though he kept his up his dancing chops on the reality show "Dancing With the Stars," Bass also was taken aback by how much Timberlake's team put into the choreography for 'N Sync's segment.
"For the last 15 seconds I thought I was going to throw up," Bass admitted. "I've never had that feeling in my entire life. I don't know if I overdid myself. Before we ended 'Bye Bye Bye,' I was like, 'I’m gonna throw up.'"
As rumors that 'N Sync were getting back together swarmed the 'net for much of the last week, fans started wondering if the group would follow its MTV reunion with a tour and maybe even another album. After the triumphant performance, speculation was even more rampant. For now, however, everyone in the group insists they haven't even talked about stepping onstage again.
"It really was about Justin and all that he has accomplished," said Chasez on "On Air With Ryan Seacrest." He wanted to acknowledge that part of his career, so we all decided to do it. It was just about five guys who were great friends, who spent 10 or 15 years together touring, and we wanted to give that back to our fans, but we were there mainly to support Justin."
- Arts & Entertainment
- Lance Bass
- Justin Timberlake
- Chris Kirkpatrick
- Bye Bye Bye