Celebrity, *NSYNC Jive Records

Paul Wong
Courtesy of Jive Records

Curiously, pop musicians tend to rise to fame on the merits of songs portraying everyday life and love yet once they arrive, they can”t resist bemoaning the terrible curse of their “Celebrity.” Usually this turns out to be a self-indulgent nightmare, which never fails to arouse our indifference. After all, how bad can we really feel for multi-millionaires? Think: Michael Jackson”s “Scream,” Madonna”s “Human Nature,” or, most recently, the terribly unfortunate (though thankfully UK-only) “Heaven and Hell (To be Geri Halliwell).”

Failed attempts at creating credibility with this hackneyed “perils of fame” schtick aside, *NSYNC manages to make things at least danceable and pleasant in their latest outing, “Celebrity.”

The lead single, “Pop,” reveals their anxieties about being swept into the dustbin along with uncountable other boy-bands once the latest teen-pop fad has ended. Despite the slick packaging of danceable beats, courtesy of producers BT, and a radio-friendly chorus (“This music gets you high/it takes you on a ride/you feel it when your body starts to rock,”) they can”t help but remind you of mad pug dogs they get so cute when they”re angry and self-righteous!

After the title track, though, “Celebrity” is thankfully not all about fame it”s the now-familiar territory of love and schlocky lyrics (“girl you should be my girlfriend” on “Girlfriend”) over danceable beats, with a few ballads thrown in for good measure and guaranteed soft-rock airplay. I can see the girls swooning right now to “Selfish” and “Something Like You,” thankfully near the end of the album for maximum avoidability, but still entirely more tolerable than previous outings like “This I Promise You.”

Sure, they”ve grown edgier than their peers. Production by the aforementioned BT, (Rodney Jerkins and Riprock), gives us more skitterish beats plus varied vocal effects and arrangements, in the hopes of garnering street credibility. But who”re they really fooling? They might be bringing some harder beats and electro blips, but they”re not breaking any new ground. There”s also more of the self-righteous indignance (a la Destiny”s Child) we saw on “Bye Bye Bye,” but this album is exactly what you”d expect. That”s what”s so great about it. No one feels badly about watching a cheap thrill of a movie like “Scary Movie 2,” which is designed for maximum pleasure but scarce on artistic value. So why shouldn”t you allow yourself to enjoy something like *Nsync, with danceable beats, corny lyrics and hopeful lovelorn optimism all done with style and flair.

Grade: B+

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