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music reviewmusic reviewmusic review  out of 4 Music Review: Celebrity

Artist: N Sync
Genre: Rock
Release Date: July 2001

Review by Kanika Gandhi
3½ stars out of 4

JustiN, ChriS, JoeY, LansteN, and JC...the five members of *NSYNC...corny huh? Almost as corny as the lyrics to the songs from their first album. But these five guys from Orlando have come a long way in the last five years.

Their second album, No Strings Attached, reflected their professional struggles as they switched labels. It also reflected their personal struggle as they searched for their niche in the music world. But the group showed the first signs of coming in to their own, musically. The album featured an edgier sound and slightly more experimental flavors. And Justin Timberlake even put forth a rather decent attempt at songwriting with the old school track :"I'll Be Good For You" (finally, he's good for something except looking cute). Despite a few lame attempts to sound "ghetto", the album actually proved to be very listenable...and even enjoyable, and managed to let them stand apart from their counterparts. And although the album didn't exactly receive any critical acclaim, it managed to set overwhelming records as far as sales were concerned.

Now you might just call *NSYNC the Rodney Dangerfield's of the pop world...they just don't seem to get any respect. Despite the #1 album, high sales records, an assortment of awards and nominations, they have received nothing but criticism. And with Celebrity, the boys are on a rampage to silence their haters.

Celebrity features a new that might not be expected from a boy band. The music is edgier, more energetic, slightly digital, and the lyrics are louder, more aggressive and in-your-face. Hence a new genre of music is born...DIRTY POP.

Okay, so it sounds cheezy. But hey, cheezy works. And the ultimate message still rings true. These guys are trying to break out of a mold...and nothing is going to stop them. Now you gotta give 'em some props. They actually want more than just money and fame for their good looks and sugary-sweet voices...they want RESPECT as musicians.

And as far as the musical aspect of this album is concerned, they do not falter. They deliver perfect harmonies and never miss a beat. But for the first time, they venture beyond simply singing the words and looking pretty for the picture on the front of the album. In fact, Justin Timberlake and JC Chasez venture in to song writing, arrangement, and even production...and the attempt is more than decent.

The first single, "Pop" (written and arranged by Justin Timberlake with some help from one of the choreographers) was a surprise. In fact, the song is nothing short of amazing. It features a "cute white boy rap sound" (which actually works for them)and a BT remixed digital, danceable sound, all while delivering a speech demanding more respect...and you got to give it to 'em. They've made good with this song.

And "Pop" is not the only commendable track on this CD. The fourth track, "Girlfriend" delivers the typical "dump-his-ass, get-with-me" routine, in a sweeter, more clever way than previously packaged by other bubble gum artistes. "The Game Is Over" is an upbeat "I'm dumping your ass" song which has been done with a surprising amount of skill and creativity. The "pac-man" sounds added to the song only increase the song's appeal, without making it sound trite. "Up Against the Wall" is another upbeat "get up and get your freak on" type, with major single potential. The clubby beats paired with somewhat freaky lyrics are easy to get down to...all while reminding us what all 20-something guys have on their minds. "See Right Through You" is another well-packaged, fun-to-listen-to song and the vocals are, once again, nothing short of perfect. Still, in my opinion, one of the best songs of this album is "Just Don't Tell Me That". It delivers yet another message from these guys...they ain't about to be used by no gold-digging girls. While the message is true but trite, the song has an amazing beat, skillfully crafted music and punchy lyrics that you won't be able to get out of your head.

And then of course, we have the sweet ballads that boy-bands are famous for. But let me tell you, these guys have surpassed all their competitors and even outdone themselves. The slow songs are few in number, but what they lack in quantity is sufficiently made up for in quality. "Gone", composed once again by Justin Timberlake and his choreographer/partner-in-crime, Wade Robson, is an absolutely stunning song with beautiful lyrics and music, and a wistful tone that touches the heart. The soulful "Something Like You" is another highlight of this CD, combining beautifully delivered vocals and amazing harmonica accompaniment by the legendary Stevie Wonder. But the pinnacle ballad of this album comes through in "Selfish". Produced by R&B genius Brian McKnight, everything about this song is perfect. The vocals are come straight from the heart and the song could leave even the most cold-hearted person in tears. I hate corny ballads, but I have never been so impressed.

Impressive as this disc is, I am still not suggesting that the album is perfect. The title track "Celebrity" features punchy lyrics, but the background incantations prove to be somewhat annoying..."If I didn't get cheese like every day, would you still wanna be with me?" Ugh! Please! "The Two Of Us" is cute, but the circus sounding music is almost irritating and doesn't fit the song. And "Tell Me, Tell Me...My Baby" includes all the essential components of a boy band hit, but still manages to fall somewhat short. And "Do Your Thing", a song which is chock full of inspiring lyrics, still failed to inspire me. These songs aren't bad, but they don't reach the standards set by some of the other songs on this album.

The music on this CD is different, while still being careful. It packs an interesting punch, and some of the songs are downright irresistable. If you like boy-bands and love *NSYNC, you may be surprised by what is delivered, but no doubt that you will love every track and have all the lyr. If you hate boy-bands and nothing will ever change that, I doubt that this will. But if you're an open-minded music lover, give this album a chance. It has a Boyz II Men meet the Chemical Brothers sound that manages to be incredibly appealing. All in all, the album works. It made a believer (and maybe even a fan) out of me, a self-confessed boy-band hater, who is still in denial of the New Kids On The Block posters that once adorned her walls. My eclectic musical tastes (which range from Dr. Dre to Dave Matthews to Brian McKnight to Nirvana) do not usually include anything pop, but I believe in giving credit where its due, and this album is more than a decent attempt by five cute boys...its a damn good attempt by five musicians (who happen to be very cute).



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