The year was 2000. The date was August 12. It was my fifth birthday. I had a birthday present list, and atop that treasured piece of parchment was the album holding the beloved “Bye Bye Bye.” Admittedly, I thought the Backstreet Boys sung the track, but my friend was smart enough to do some research and find that the song was performed by NSYNC, the other prominent boy band of the era.

I was ecstatic when I found the No Strings Attached CD — remember CDs? — among my presents. The cover art is standard boy band material. After my party I cracked it open and inserted it into my bulky, green CD player and listened. I think we can all agree: having the No Strings Attached CD was as cool as it got in kindergarten.

And don’t lie to me — you know that shit is still hot. “Bye Bye Bye” is the opening track, and I was immediately satisfied to hear what I considered the hottest song in the world. “Just Got Paid” and “Bringin’ da Noise” were solid hype-up songs to jam to in the car before soccer games. You know, the kind where the goals were little prop-up nets and half of the team stands around picking dandelions. Upon further listening, “Space Cowboy” was decidedly my other favorite song with its twangy pop sound. The family room in my house has high ceilings, and I remember throwing pillows high in the air while dancing around to the record. I probably definitely tried to beatbox at some point, too.

What’s past is past. At least I didn’t keep thinking it was something worthwhile to spend my free time doing past the first grade and into high school. My NSYNC CD listening prime took place during a simpler time. Granted, I could still sing along to five of the songs with reasonable accuracy, but that’s beside the point. Just as I remember standing outside at recess around the start of first grade, reminiscing with my classmate Cooper on the joys of Kindergarten — namely having two recesses — I am now a senior in college with lots of good memories of college rooted in music.

There’s waking up at 7:30 a.m. for football tailgates to the sound of Thin Lizzy or DMX before any other students in the city seem to have awoken, shouting along to Sugarland with friends late at night, or just walking around our beautiful campus with the Arctic Monkeys or J Cole in my earbuds. While my new musical memories only infrequently include NSYNC, they still bring me back to a more carefree time. 

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