After Joey Fatone Shuts Down Super Bowl Rumors, One Question Remains: Will *NSYNC Perform Together Again?

Justin Timberlake is inarguably a superstar in his own right and has separated his own career from his beginnings in *NSYNC with plenty of hits, from debut single “Like I Love You” to his most recent single, “Filthy.” Yet, somehow, every time he’s set to deliver a major performance -- like his highly anticipated Super Bowl LII halftime show happening Feb. 4 -- there’s immediate speculation that it means an *NSYNC reunion.

Of course, no *NSYNC fan would ever scoff at the thought, as a reuniting of Timberlake with former bandmates Lance Bass, Joey Fatone, JC Chasez and Chris Kirkpatrick is always something any lover of “Bye Bye Bye” hopes for. But as the Super Bowl gets closer, the realities of another reunion are getting slimmer, especially with Joey Fatone’s recent shut-down of any sort of *NSYNC appearance.

"If I was doing something, I’d be at rehearsals right now,” Fatone recently told TMZ. "So obviously, there's your proof.”

Fatone himself as been focusing on non-musical ventures in recent years, making various TV and movie appearances including co-hosting Impractical Jokers and reprising his 2002 My Big Fat Greek Wedding role of Angelo in the 2016 sequel. He’s also opened his own chain of hot dog franchises, naturally named Fat Ones, so music isn’t necessarily on his mind.

Bass is in the same boat, with television hosting responsibilities of his own and serving as an ambassador for The Vanderpump Dog Foundation and Environmental Media Association. And, Chasez and Kirkpatrick have seemingly stepped even further out of the entertainment world, making sporadic TV appearances (Kirkpatrick reunited with Fatone for the epic boy band sci-fi Dead 7 in 2016) but otherwise staying out of the spotlight.

Then again, the rest of *NSYNC’s lack of music involvement didn’t stop them from joining forces for their epic (and to date, only) reunion performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards during Timberlake’s Video Vanguard medley. And much like the circumstances surrounding this year’s Super Bowl, Timberlake’s VMA performance was preceded by speculation that it would include an *NSYNC reunion, especially after Fatone’s father spilled the beans that Joey had asked for advice on which songs to perform.

Similarly to Fatone’s denial this year, the year prior to the 2013 VMAs, Chasez had told The Hollywood Reporter a reunion wasn’t “in the cards.” He sounded a little more promising upon JT’s Super Bowl announcement in October, telling Us Weekly in November “I always keep an open mind” when it comes to *NSYNC reunions, but quickly followed himself up by saying “the answer is no,” just about a month before Fatone firmly shut rumors down himself last month.

"Whatever we do together, we have to do it because we are inspired to do it. It’s authentic,” he added. "The MTV performance when we showed love to Justin for his award... it was for the right reason. When your friend is being honored and you’re a part of their lives and this was a big part of his life, we wanted to share that and we wanted to support him in that moment.”

While the *NSYNC guys always entertain the question, it seems they almost enjoy shutting down any true possibility of another magical moment between the band members. And without another *NSYNC dad chiming in this year with just days left until Timberlake’s Super Bowl halftime show, Fatone’s comment doesn’t seem as sneaky as fans may hope.

But wait — there is one report from The Metro that Fatone is billed as a celebrity guest at the annual Leather and Laces Super Bowl party on Friday, Feb. 2 ahead of the big game. He is not currently scheduled for any other Super Bowl-related appearances, so a halftime show surprise would certainly be another driving factor for Fatone to make the trip to Minneapolis. With no official confirmation about the Leather and Laces appearance nor word of any other *NSYNC member being in Minnesota for Super Bowl weekend, though, that could be a false alarm.

Even if another *NSYNC Super Bowl appearance (which would be their first since playing with Aerosmith in 2001) really isn’t happening, all hope for a reunion is not completely lost in 2018. March 24 marks the 20th anniversary of the U.S. release of the band’s self-titled debut album, and Bass has already confidently confirmed that the group will be reuniting for the special occasion -- doing something that makes it extra special. 

“We’re getting our star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame in March,” he tells Billboard. "So we’re all five gonna be together, we’re gonna do the star ceremony, and then, of course, we’re gonna have to throw a party to celebrate.

Bass didn’t make any mention of a performance possibility, but *NSYNC will be releasing limited edition, ‘90s-style merchandise for fans to also take part in celebrating the anniversary. Whether there’s a performance involved in the celebrations as well is something that fans will have to wait to find out (but will surely speculate) until March, and whether they’ll ever perform together again period seems as unlikely as it always does. But one thing Bass told Billboard does offer a little promise that, at the very least, the relationship that *NSYNC built in their glory days is still very much alive.

“We have a group text that we just always do stupid things on,” he says. "We pretty much talk daily, all five of us.”

Super Bowl 53