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Snatchin’ Wigs (A review of *NSYNC’s latest album)
On July 29, 2014, *NSYNC dropped their first album since 2005’s Greatest Hits, and many wigs were snatched in the process. The Essential *NSYNC came out almost 13 years to the day after the release of Celebrity, the last *NSYNC album to contain all new material. All of The Essential *NSYNC‘s 34 tracks are songs that have been featured on other albums, soundtracks, or collaborations. Most *NSYNC fans will have at least heard of these songs if they haven’t actually heard them.
The Essential *NSYNC is a big deal for several reasons 1) It pulls from their entire catalog (though not every song, obviously) including collaborations with other artists 2) It features their singles alongside other tracks from their albums 3) It’s a two disc set 4) It sold out on Amazon 5) It reached number 25 on the Billboard 200 and peaked at No. 6 on iTunes 6) The group had no idea it was even being released
Points 4-6 are the most important things about this album. A group that hasn’t toured or released an album in over a decade released an album with ZERO promotion and it charted fairly high. No, this wasn’t a Beyonce level no-promo release, but it’s still a big deal because it proves that there can still be a market for some acts after their heyday.
Is The Essential *NSYNC worth the buy? Here’s my honest review of the album with my ‘should you buy it?’ verdict and the track list (in case you’ve been living under a rock) at the end.
The Hits (pun somewhat intended)
I absolutely love that this album was 34 tracks and that those tracks were pulled from imports (tracks that appeared on overseas versions of their albums), soundtracks, collaborations, and from their canonical American albums. When I first read about this album, I expected it to be a bunch of the singles with a few remixes and regular album tracks thrown in with few or none of their ‘rare’ material. I admit that I wasn’t that excited about it until I saw the track listing. The first disc (which is kind of pointless labeling for a digital download) consists of several of their US and European singles and the second disc is mostly imports, collaborations, and tunes from movie soundtracks. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but it’s generally how the album is broken down.
I’m not sure if some of the very old songs (More than a Feeling, Best of My Life, The Lion Sleeps Tonight) were digitally remastered or enhanced, but I was pleasantly surprised how they sounded with the newer material, particularly the songs from Celebrity.
I was a dedicated *NSYNC fan in my day, and I admit that it feels like some sort of blasphemy to say that anything from them is a miss. I guess the fact that this was released without any input from the group makes it not blasphemy? I hope?
Most of my ‘misses’ have to do with what was included and what wasn’t. When I look at the track list, I feel like everything that was included had a purpose and should have been included. At the same time, I wish that more imports from their European era had been included instead of some of the tracks from the catalog that weren’t singles. Perhaps it’s because some of those older, EuroPop sounding songs (I’m looking at you Riddle and Forever Young) wouldn’t have held up as well with the other songs. The songs that weren’t included on The Essential *NSYNC could comprise a whole new album.
I also felt like several of the songs were labeled inaccurately. I don’t feel like a lot of the songs labeled ‘remix’ or ‘radio cut’ or ‘radio edit’ were anything different (or perhaps not dramatically different). I noticed that the guitar solo before the key change on This I Promise You was missing (obviously making it the radio edit), but I didn’t notice the differences on any of the other songs. I admit that I wasn’t listening that closely and that I might be a little rusty. The point is that I was expecting to hear something that would feel different, but it was the same. No problem, but they should have avoided trying to spice the track list in this way.
I was also annoyed that I Drive Myself Crazy was labeled Thinking of You (I Drive Myself Crazy). The version included was I Drive Myself Crazy and not Thinking of You. JC sings the first verse on Thinking of You which is the European version of I Drive Myself Crazy. Chris sings the opening verse on I Drive Myself Crazy. It’s basically the same song, the main difference being in musical/vocal arrangement. I felt it was a misnomer to include ‘Thinking of You’ in the title. I might have been one person out of one hundred that noticed this error.
Overall, I feel that The Essential *NSYNC is a solid effort from the record company. They were sloppy on a few things, and I doubt any deep thought was put in to what was included, but what they came up with was a decent product that shows respect to long-time fans and gives casual fans and newbies a very good sampling of the group’s catalog. The Essential *NSYNC lives up to it’s title and eats 2005’s Greatest Hits for lunch.
The Essential *NSYNC is a good album for anyone who didn’t have access to import albums, collaborations, and/or soundtrack tunes back in the day. It’s also a good starting point for anyone who has yet to update their *NSYNC collection to a digital platform. Any die-hard fan who wants to have every track they’ve ever put out in every version/format will appreciate it.
If you’re a die-hard fan that already has some of the ‘rarer’ tracks (presumably downloaded from Napster, Kaza, or Limewire), I can’t really think of a solid reason to buy this album [supporting the guys notwithstanding] other than the chance to (possibly) have a higher quality file for some of these tracks.
I give The Essential *NSYNC 4.5/5 stars. The half star was lost because I felt that more European era songs should have been included and some of the obvious marketing ploys with the track labeling.
1. Here We Go (Radio Cut)
2. I Want You Back (Radio Edit)
3. Tearin’ Up My Heart (Original Radio Edit)
4. God Must Have Spent A Little More Time On You (Remix)
5. Thinking Of You (I Drive Myself Crazy)
6. For The Girl Who Has Everything (Radio Mix)
7. Are You Gonna Be There
8. Music Of My Heart – Featuring Gloria Estefan
9. Bye Bye Bye
10. It’s Gonna Be Me
11. This I Promise You (Radio Edit)
12. I Thought She Knew
13. I Believe In You – Featuring Joe
14. If I’m Not The One
15. Pop (Radio Version)
16. Girlfriend (The Neptunes Remix) – Featuring Nelly
1. More Than A Feeling
2. Best Of My Life
3. The Lion Sleeps Tonight
5. Everything I Own
6. God Must Have Spent A Little More Time On You – Featuring Alabama
7. Somewhere Someday
8. Trashin’ The Camp – Featuring Phil Collins
9. If Only In Heaven’s Eyes
10. You Don’t Have To Be Alone
11. On The Line – Featuring The On The Line All-Stars / Lance Bass / Joey Fatone / Mandy Moore / Christian Burns & True Vibe
12. That Girl (Will Never Be Mine)
14. Feel The Love
16. See Right Through You
17. Believe In Yourself (TV Version – Sesame Street)