In April 2000, ‘N Sync was on top of the world. The members of the group – Lance Bass, then 20; J.C. Chasez, 23; Joey Fatone, 23; Chris Kirkpatrick, 28; and future prince of pop Justin Timberlake, 19 – were steadily building in popularity since their first hit, “I Want You Back,” debuted on the Pop Airplay chart in January 1998.
But, things were about to get much bigger. RCA Records (through a production deal with Louis “Lou” Pearlman’s Trans Continental Group) released the boy band’s self-titled debut in March 1998, and although it debuted at a modest No. 82 on the Billboard 200, it hit the top 10 four months later and remained there until the following March.
A 1998 Christmas album also peaked in the top 10.
‘N Sync’s highly anticipated follow-up, No Strings Attached, was set for a pre-Christmas 1999 release until the group signed a label deal with Jive Records, which triggered a $150 million breach-of-contract lawsuit by RCA’s then-parent BMG and Trans Continental. The band struck a deal in December that enabled it to stick with Jive, and No Strings was released on March 21, 2000.
Pent-up demand for the album and its smash lead single, “Bye Bye Bye” – No. 1 for 10 weeks on Pop Airplay – led to a blockbuster bow on the April 8, 2000-dated Billboard 200. According to MRC Data, the album sold 2.4 million copies, then the single-largest sales week for an album since MRC Data began tracking data in 1991. (That single-week record held until December 2015, when Adele’s 25 opened with 3.38 million sold in its first week.)
‘N Sync went on hiatus in the mid-2000s after releasing a final album, Celebrity, in 2001, and, although it regrouped to perform at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, it has no further reunion plans.
A version of this article first appeared in the April 11, 2015, issue of Billboard magazine.