Countless artists pour their hearts and souls into making the "next big record". A precious few sell millions, some have maintained a comfortably small fan base, and others never rise from obscurity. But all are susceptible to one possible dubious fate: The shelf of your local thrift store. These poor unwanted remnants of the past grace the shelves of your Goodwills, your Salvation Armys, your local mom & pop shop, waiting to be rediscovered... to be loved once again.

Over my years of thrift store scouring, I gradually began to notice certain discs and records that repeatedly reveal themselves on nearly every visit to any location. It left me wondering: Why are these select albums so often discarded, what led them to this point, and will the recognition and love for them ever be renewed once again? Now I can confidently answer YES. I bestow unto you, an appreciation for all discs left behind: "Thrift Store Albums."

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Is it "'N Sync", "*NSYNC", or just plain "NSYNC"? Hey, it's a 90's boy band, it's your call! The 5-voice group in which JT rose to fame (awww, he looks so little on that album cover!) followed on the heels of other successful pop groups such as, of course, the Backstreet Boys. The lineup covered all the bases, including (from left to right) the one with the crazy hair, the one who people think is probably gay who later comes out as gay, the kinda generic one, the one who will actually make a career out of this, and the goatee guy who doesn't really seem to fit with the rest.

As with other pop boy groups of the time, the emphasis was on vocals and choreographed dancing atop pre-recorded tracks in lieu of instrumental performance. Their American debut actually came close to being a complete flop until a televised Disney Channel concert was aired, with the group coming in as a last-minute Backstreet Boys replacement. It was the perfect break that shot the album into the top ten and got "Tearin' Up My Heart" lodged in everyone's brain. The band would find even greater fame with their follow-up record, "No Strings Attached", with the even more annoyingly brain-lodging track, "Bye, Bye, Bye" (which I blame for Justin Bieber's "Baby", just for saying the same word three times over and over in the chorus).

After fading in the early 2000's, most band members took their place squarely in the D-list celebrity column with Chris Kirkpatrick providing cartoon voiceovers, Joey Fatone as cable TV host and announcer, and JC Chasez with a stalled solo career (but some solid production credits to his name). Lance Bass probably has the most interesting track record, including getting certified by NASA as a cosmonaut, and a now-defunct music management company, "Free Lance Entertainment" heh, get it?

As is often the case with these types of breakout groups, one member would go on to a long and prosperous solo career, and Justin Timberlake has proven that he has the chops not only as a singer, but producer, dancer, actor, and he's even pretty damn funny when he hosts on SNL. Even pop music haters have to admit that the guy has undeniable talent.

The boy band bandwagon seems to flow in waves, with a seemingly disappointing and brief revival every few years until the tweens grow into young adults and the cycle starts itself all over again. *NSYNC, if nothing else, will always be recognized as the career launcher for JT, and will also hold its place in the history of the pop boy band craze, taking influence from its predecessors (NKOTB, anyone?), and influencing future generations of boy band successes. For whatever that's worth.

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