Giving in to 'N Sync

Pop music critic Jim DeRogatis writes "At this point, complaining about the crass commercialism that drives the pop juggernaut known as 'N Sync is as pointless as complaining about the Chicago weather. It is what it is. So deal with it.

With that in mind, I tried to look on the bright side of this undeniable boy-band phenomenon as it pulled into Soldier Field on Saturday for the first of a sold-out two-night stand.

Here, then, are 20 Things That Did Not Stink About 'N Sync:

1. The lights--there were lots of 'em! And they were bright!

2. Lasers, too--gotta love a band with lasers!

3. The opening video with the old-fashioned typewriter defining the words "Pop" and "Odyssey." Generation Y will never know the joys of hunting and pecking on an Underwood, nor of looking up words in a dictionary. It was nice of 'N Sync to provide a history lesson.

4. The bait-and-switch entrance--five hooded figures appeared onstage, but the boys popped up in the center of the arena! Sure, everybody expected it. It was cool anyway.

5. Dance moves--these boys got 'em! Those of us who have trouble walking without tripping over ourselves have got to appreciate such choreographed precision.

6. The seven-piece band played real instruments--no cheesy backing tapes for these guys! (Three of the four openers were track acts, and while rising British hypes BB Mak strummed guitars, they were the most anemic guitars this reviewer has ever heard.)

7. Fire--great big geysers of it! Gotta love a band with fire.

8. A positive message "This music gets you high." It's tunes not drugs for 'N Sync--that's why they've been recruited as spokesmen for President Bush's anti-drug campaign!

9. Another positive message You have to love people for who they are, not what they can buy. (This one's from the title track of "Celebrity," the band's third album, due in July; please ignore the half-hour of advertising that preceded the set, the plug for the fast-food restaurant in the middle of it, and the seven designer costume changes.)

10. Good looks--these boys got 'em! Judging by the orgasmic screams for designated heartthrobs Justin Timberlake and Lance Bass, 65,000 adolescent females did not find 'N Sync unpretty to look at.

11. Looks aren't everything! The fans love Joey Fatone anyway because he's funny--and he can buy lots of stuff, but we're not dwelling on that.

12. Set pacing--'N Sync's got it down cold! Through the course of a 20-song show, we never went more than three tunes without a soothing ballad.

13. Stage props--these boys got 'em! Loved the giant teddy bear, the dancing dog and the oversized kiddy pedal cars.

14. 'N Sync can sing while pedaling oversized kiddy pedal cars--a mean aerobic feat!

15. Mechanical bulls! Gotta love the mechanical bulls trotted out during "Space Cowboys."

16. Dance moves--did I mention the dance moves?

17. Good looks--did I mention the good looks?

18. Um, orgasmic screams--did I mention the orgasmic screams? In any event, though 'N Sync touts its brand of "Dirty Pop," the sex never is as crude or in your face as it is with female counterparts Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears. (And doncha wonder how Justin feels about that?)

19. Like Peter Pan and Tinkerbell, 'N Sync can fly (albeit with wires)! Gotta love a band that can fly!

20. The old "David Letterman jump on a trampoline and Velcro yourself to the wall" stunt! Gotta love a band that uses the old "David Letterman jump on a trampoline and Velcro yourself to the wall" stunt.

Hmmm, I've reached the end of the list, and I realize that I haven't mentioned the music once."

Source: Chicago Sun Times (June 18, 2001)