On Jan. 10, 2000, *NSYNC’s “Bye Bye Bye” was played on the radio for the very first time. Two decades later, pop fans still can’t resist breaking out the video’s iconic dance — three fist-pumping hops followed by three sassy waves — whenever they hear the Billboard Hot 100-topping No Strings Attached lead single.
On the latest episode of Billboard‘s Pop Shop Podcast, Joey Fatone — one-fifth of one of the most popular boy bands of all time — stops by to talk about the upcoming 20th anniversary of the group’s landmark album, the possible future of *NSYNC following their four-member performance with Ariana Grande at Coachella last year and what’s been keeping him busy since his music days, including his podcast and Game Show Network hosting gig. (Listen to the full podcast and check out episode highlights below.)
What Does the Future of *NSYNC Hold?
Following *NSYNC (minus Justin Timberlake) performing with Ariana Grande at Coachella last spring, a lot of people wondered what could be next. A tour? A new album? And would it be with or without JT? Well, Joey says there were definitely some question marks after their weekend in the desert. “We started getting phone calls, of course,” he says. “‘Well, are you guys back together? What are you doing? Oh my gosh! There’s an offer here.’ This, that. There were offers thrown on the table, but the whole thing was, I don’t think we were ready for it yet. I don’t think even at the moment, like to really mentally wrap our head around to see what we want to do, and I think that’s the conservation that we really have to have that we haven’t had yet. It’s really going: ‘Do we wanna do it, or do we not? And if we do want to do it, what is it?’ And that’s something that will definitely take some time.”
That said, he’s not shutting down the possiblity. “It’s not a no, but it’s not a yes, because the thing is, we may come up with an idea that may not work for all of us. … If I did do something like this, I think it’s just something that definitely we will wanna do maybe more music, but also have fun, do you know what I mean? … There’s not a lot of pressure anymore. Usually back in the day, it was, ‘You need to be No. 1. You need to do this. This should be that. This should be this.’ For us, if we ever came back out, it’s like it’d be nice to do all this stuff and be No. 1, but we’ve already done it. We’re in our 40s! We got kids now! The backstage is going to be completely different, that’s for damn sure! There’ll be a lot more kids running around, no groupies,” he laughs.
A Particularly, Um, Flatulent Memory From Recording No Strings Attached
Fatone shares a lot of amazing memories from the No Strings days — from performing at the Super Bowl with Aerosmith to Paul Simon listening in on the group as they practiced their harmonies in a bathroom ahead of a Grammy Awards performance — but there’s one story we had never heard before that is definitely worth highlighting. “I can’t believe I’m telling this… I was in the booth,” he recalled. “We were getting ready to sing one part, and I decided to rip a fart in the studio. So they decided to take it and sample the noise of the fart, and if you listen very carefully, it happens very quickly; it’s on an offbeat of the beginning in ‘Space Cowboy’ … Very quietly, you will hear [makes small fart noise]. And ladies and gentlemen, that’s my ass,” he laughs. We’ll have to verify this one next time we talk to the producers of “Space Cowboy (Yippie-Yi-Yay),” including Riprock ‘n’ Alex G and Fatone’s own bandmate, JC Chasez.
Whether or Not *NSYNC Reunites, Joey Is Plenty Busy
For starters, Fatone’s Two Cups of Joe podcast with longtime manager Joe Mulvihill is returning for a second season this year. “We slowly just started building it and had a fairly quickly big fanbase out of the gate,” he says. “But now we really want to try to make it professional. … Of course we’re very animated, so we want to videotape it as well [but] we haven’t done that yet. We’re actually taking a little bit of a break, but when we come back, we’ll have video content and all of that stuff, so we’re excited.”
He’s also hosting Common Knowledge on the Game Show Network, and as a lifelong game show fan (his childhood favorite was Press Your Luck, and he especially admires fellow game show hosts Wink Martindale, Bob Barker and Pat Sajak), it’s been a thrill to hold the hosting mic himself. “I love all game shows, so it was exciting for me to get a chance to do something like this,” he says, noting his previous gigs on The Singing Bee and as the announcer for Family Feud. “I’ve done some game shows before, but not really like this game show. … We shoot six shows a day, we do it for four weeks, and so I shot out 130 episodes. … I think we shot almost over 200 already.” Fatone is also busy on the promo circuit, as he popped by Billboard last month to deliver us ice cream and hype up a (now-expired) Baskin-Robbins and DoorDash deal over the holidays.
Also on the show, we talk about chart moves for Roddy Ricch and Justin Bieber, plus the just-announced Oscar nominations and our reaction to Jennifer Lopez and Beyoncé being shut out.
The Billboard Pop Shop Podcast is your one-stop shop for all things pop on Billboard‘s weekly charts. You can always count on a lively discussion about the latest pop news, fun chart stats and stories, new music, and guest interviews with music stars and folks from the world of pop. Casual pop fans and chart junkies can hear Billboard‘s senior director of charts Keith Caulfield and deputy editor, digital Katie Atkinson every week on the podcast, which can be streamed on Billboard.com or downloaded in Apple Podcasts or your favorite podcast provider. (Click here to listen to the previous episode on Billboard.com.)