‘N Sync vs. Backstreet Boys: The Appropriate Narrative At the wait on of Their Legend Boy Band Opponents

‘N Sync vs. Backstreet Boys: The Appropriate Narrative At the wait on of Their Legend Boy Band Opponents

'N Sync vs Backstreet Boys, FeatureGetty Images; Melissa Herwitt/E! Illustration

There are two forms of individuals in this world: followers of N Sync or Backstreet Boys.

‘N Sync member Lance Bass‘ documentary, The Boy Band Con: The Lou Pearlman Narrative, became once launched in 2019, and featured contributors of more than one boy bands and their households documenting the devastation and deceit they skilled for the length of their time working with frail manager Lou Pearlman, their father figure became enemy. 

Pearlman, who died in 2016, became once the man credited for kicking off the boy band order within the ’90s, initiating the careers of orderly-teams love ‘N Sync, Backstreet Boys, LFO and O-City.

Nonetheless within the ’90s and early aughts, it became once all about ‘N Sync and BSB and their battle to top the pop charts, which is precisely how Pearlman wished it. 

And on the present time, with Chris Kirkpatrick admitting he became once not ceaselessly a fan of BSB’s AJ McLean, we couldn’t support but survey wait on on one among song’s most-hyped—and secretly encouraged—rivalries. 

Whereas the BSB vs. ‘N Sync opponents mostly perceived to be fueled by their warring legions of steady followers, Bass and various contributors of the two teams published in The Boy Band Con that it became once very right for them before all the things of their careers, with Pearlman, who became once managing both bands, more than snug to possess his two prize acts at odds. 

So how did Pearlman discontinue up initiating, fueling and in the end ending one among essentially the most piquant boy band rivalries? 


Earlier than changing into the so-known as Berry Gordy of the boy band generation, Pearlman became once the head of Trans Continental, an Orlando-essentially essentially based umbrella company that incorporated a traipse agency, Chippendales dancers and chartering planes. Now not precisely a frail start for a song manager. 

Nonetheless he made the resolution to enter the song commercial after chartering a non-public airplane for Sleek Young folks on the Block, the gold normal of boy bands on the time. “I talked about to my cousin, ‘How can they manage to pay for an airplane, these youth?'” Pearlman remembered asking. That cousin might maybe maybe be Art Garfunkel, of the legendary Simon & Garfunkel, who told him merely how powerful freakin’ cash the 5 guys were making.

“I became once on the injurious aspect of the coin,” Pearlman talked about. “Artie told me, ‘You are in commercial; you love song. You ought to form one thing love that.’ In expose a weekend goof we made up our minds to form a bit audition, and one thing led to another.”

AJ McLean Needs Justin Timberlake to Judge about BSB/NSYNC Reunion

He formed Trans Contintenal Data and launched a $3 million abilities contest alongside with his own cash within the hopes of discovering the next grand (cash-making) boy band. And that, in a nutshell, is how the Backstreet Boys were formed, with the support of successful song manager Johnny Wright, who worked with NKOTB.

The well-known member of Backstreet Boys became once McLean, who auditioned for Pearlman in his lounge after seeing an ad for the competition. After that, Pearlman held an commence casting name that took train in a blimp hangar, which later became the warmth-stuffed residence of what might maybe maybe be identified as “boy band boot camp.” (The approach incorporated six to eight hours a day of dance rehearsals, issue classes and no air-con. The closing bonding experience.)

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Howie Dorough met Pearlman next in 1992, Slice Carter auditioned quickly after and then Kevin Richardson, who became once working at Disney World on the time, became once by hook or by crook instructed by his wannabe song manager’s limo driver. Nonetheless the needed fifth slot became once proving complicated to indulge in. That’s unless Kevin instructed his younger cousin.

“I seen two folks, and it became once luminous execrable,” Richardson recalled to Rolling Stone in 1999. “It merely made me sad. And I talked about, ‘ what? I possess a cousin who can issue his butt off.'”

Really, Brian Litrell recalled the shriek date his life changed in that duvet legend: April 19, 1993. He became once in history class in Kentucky when he became once pulled out because he had a telephone name with future. Richardson told him, “Why don’t you approach and, you know, issue with these guys down here? I’m in this community and, you know, we’re going to scheme data and be noted.'”

Goodbye, college plans. Hello, boy band infamy.

Excluding it would be three or four years of onerous work, touring all the plot by strategy of Europe to scheme a identify for themselves sooner than sooner or later making a splash within the U.S. in 1997. Throughout all of it, Pearlman, affectionately known as “Big Poppa” by the community, cultivated a family dynamic, web hosting broad dinners, letting the boys hand round in his mansion—even web hosting McLean and Littrell’s joint birthday party.

“Striking over at Lou’s became once love going to Disneyland. He had every freaking toy you would possibly maybe maybe imagine,” McLean talked about within the band’s 2015 documentary.

What BSB didn’t know, although, became once that Pearlman, Wright and co-manager Donna Wright had quietly started working with another boy band.

In 1995, ‘N Sync started with an unlikely first member:  Kirkpatrick, who crossed paths with Pearlman when he auditioned to be in BSB. He at remaining teamed up with Justin Timberlake and JC Chasez to start out forming their own band. After their indicate The Mickey Mouse Membership became once canceled, Timberlake and Chasez, who would lumber on to fragment lead vocals, had beforehand recorded demos collectively in Nashville. The trio at remaining ran into Kirkpatricks’ friend Joey Fatone, who became once working at one among the theme parks in Orlando, at a club.

Ron Galella/WireImage

Useless to speak, they wished to search out their fifth and remaining member. Whereas they within the initiating had Jason Galasso as their bass singer, it didn’t work out, although his keep became once ceaselessly left on the community as their band identify came from the rest preliminary of every member’s first identify.

Then Timberlake’s vocal coach instructed Bass, a 15-one year-frail from Mississippi, who flew out to Orlando the day after his Homecoming parade to audition. After agreeing to switch by the nickname “Lansten” so that they’d perhaps defend their identify, Bass became once in and BSB formally had a rival…not that they knew it on the time.

“‘Where there is Coke, there is Pepsi, somebody’s going to return alongside with form the BSB knockoff so why must not or not it’s us,'” is how creator John Seabrook recalled Pearlman explaining the save apart of abode to him in The Boy Band Con.

In the initiating, Pearlman positively had a well-liked delicate drink.

“With the success of the Backstreet Boys, as ‘N Sync, we the least bit times felt love the redheaded stepchild. We couldn’t even lumber into the file sign for the reason that workers there didn’t know we existed,” Bass published in The Boy Band Con, adding they were referred to in paperwork and expense stories as “B5” to defend the secrecy. “And Lou failed to need them to understand about us merely but because he didn’t are looking to upset the Backstreet Boys.” 

Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Nonetheless they were about to search out out in a devastating plot.

Of their doc, Richardson recalled Pearlman breaking the solutions of his new band to him in 1995 when he showed him a VHS recording of the rival community performing. “It became once nearly love a betrayal,” Richardson talked about. “When we started off, we were love, ‘Yeah, we’re a team. We’re gonna settle over the arena. There is nobody love us,'” he persevered. “Then you definately discover, ‘Wisely, essentially there is somebody love you.'”

 So why did management stage and support this opponents? They wished the monopoly on boy bands, needless to speak.

“These guys were gifted, which implies ‘N Sync,” Wright talked about within the Backstreet Boys’ At the wait on of the Tune episode, which aired in 2005. “If we didn’t eliminate them up, somebody else will. For me, it became once it’s better that we defend watch over the long traipse of both teams than somebody else who goes to flip the community magnificent in opposition to you.”

And besides, it will not be adore it hadn’t been done within the song commercial sooner than, Wright reasoned in an earlier interview. “[We] outmoded to joke the entire time that we were going to flip Orlando into the next Motown, but we were going to name it Snowtown—because we weren’t doing it with R&B acts, we were doing it with pop acts,” he outlined to Rolling Stone in 1998. “I assume you would possibly maybe maybe disclose Backstreet Boys are the Temptations and ‘N Sync are the Four Tops.”

The LIFE Portray Assortment/Getty Images

To support train the two teams apart, their shared management gave them various looks and a bit various sounds.

For Backstreet, their image became once “a bit bit darker,” so that they wore darker clothing. “Harmonies were the object that they involved in essentially the most,” Johnny outlined in The Boy Band Con. ‘N Sync, meanwhile, “were the blokes next door. They wore basketball jerseys and shorts and Jordan shoes.” When it came to the song, they “essentially involved within the efficiency and the reveals.”

(‘N Sync would seemingly object to that comparison, with Fatone once proudly telling Rolling Stone they had “more intricate harmonies” than their opponents.)

And it became once one efficiency that might maybe maybe indicate to be the defining moment for the two bands.

In 1998, BSB became once equipped the likelihood to form an hour-long particular for the Disney Channel, but after years of nonstop touring and working, they were running on fumes. So that they declined. Bigger than snug to bounce their plot into the slot? ‘N Sync. “Every thing we became down, they bought,” is how McLean set apart it in 2005. “They were magnificent on our coattails.”

The actual proved to be the breakout moment that the up-and-coming community had been ready for. After that, all the things changed. “Or not it’s taking place now,” Chasez talked about of the dwell efficiency particular in The Boy Band Con. “That’s when the snowball started rolling.”

And it didn’t waste. 

Ron Galella/WireImage

“The closing goal became once to form it not once but twice,” Wright talked about of looking to settle ‘N Sync to the next level à la Backstreet, which worked after the Disney Channel particular. “I agree with we possess now done that, and, obviously, it’s precipitated a anguish.”

For ‘N Sync, the underdog band that at remaining overtook BSB, they seemed unfazed by the rumors of opponents, not not up to publicly. “Folks try and scheme a feud out of all the things,” Timberlake told Rolling Stone. “And we didn’t test it love that.”

They’d perhaps furthermore merely not possess considered it love that. Nonetheless that doesn’t imply their contemporaries felt the an identical plot.

“Backstreet Boys were not snug with ‘N Sync,” Donna Wright talked about. “They weren’t snug with [Pearlman] because he would set apart another band collectively to compete with them.”

McLean set apart it in plot more perfect and a bit more graphic terms in The Boy Band Con: “It became once the supreme warfare of pastime, adore it became once the supreme… literally don’t s–t the save apart you eat save apart of abode and it essentially began to bother us.”

The BSB member who felt essentially the most betrayed by Pearlman became once Richardson, who especially considered the producer as a parental figure after shedding his father to most cancers.

“Or not it will not be ‘N Sync itself however the save apart ‘N Sync comes from that digs me, digs me, digs me—and gets me, silent to on the present time,” he told RS in 2000. “Mr. Pearlman became once the least bit times talking loyalty and preaching loyalty, asserting, ‘I love you guys; you are love my sons.’ I’d misplaced my father to most cancers. So I looked at Lou love a father figure. Nonetheless I became once naïve, and he’s a liar. We will the least bit times be mindful him for serving to us start. Nonetheless we’ll furthermore be mindful him for screwing us blind and constructing another community within the wait on of our backs.”

He persevered, “That harm our feelings. Due to for a while it became once love, ‘We’re a family.’ Then with out warning, ‘Or not it’s commercial, guys, sorry.’ We have not got anything else in opposition to…that community, personally. It became once [Pearlman’s] not being factual.”

L. Busacca/WireImage

A part of Pearlman’s strategy became once taken straight from the hallway of your sensible center school: He would whinge about BSB to ‘N Sync and vice versa, turning them in opposition to every various with lies about diva habits, with Kirkpatrick asserting, “If I were the Backstreet Boys, I’d’ve hated us too.”

Bass added, “What Lou told us worked love a charm. He pitted us in opposition to every various and we stayed in opposition to every various our entire entire careers. If I seen them in a room I’d’ve even are looking to consult with them. I became once of them. I didn’t know if they were going to remark at me or not.”

They were removed from the handiest orderly-teams Pearlman tried to form: C-Present, a Latin boy band; Select 5, a entire BSB/’N Sync knockoff that he hoped might maybe maybe be his third step forward community; LFO, a trio that had one well-known hit in “Summer season Ladies,” and his first girl community, Innocence.

Nonetheless on the discontinue of the day, it became once all about Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync, two of the shriek-promoting bands at that time and of all-time.

That opponents became once right—for the blokes and for followers. Fight lines were drawn for every teenage girl rising up in that era and likewise you had to recall which band you were going to pledge your undying loyalty to. Excluding while you were one among their managers, it seemed. 

Pearlman wasn’t the handiest member of their management team that the Backstreet guys felt arouse toward over the warfare of pastime, as Wright became once at remaining given an ultimatum by the blokes: us or them. “They roughly had it a bit more uncomplicated than we did,” McLean outlined in BSB’s At the wait on of the Tune particular. “So that made us a bit bit bitter in the direction of Johnny.”

He selected ‘N Sync.

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

“Now not to speak too powerful…because we’re in a factual save apart of abode magnificent now—I became once made a guideline I might maybe maybe refuse,” Wright outlined in 1998, as the split became once taking place. “With the entire success and all the things that is taking place, we ought to all be popping champagne and toasting the success that every person has worked onerous for over the rest 5 years, but it’s all mired by various things.”

Useless to speak, he didn’t precisely set apart out any opponents fires after his split with BSB became once legitimate.

“I don’t are looking to speak anything else detrimental, but Backstreet Boys were set apart collectively as 5 guys who were on roads of their own, 5 individuals with 5 particular person careers appealing forward who’re collectively,” he talked about in a Rolling Stone duvet legend about ‘N Sync. “‘N Sync came to me as a community and roughly set apart themselves collectively. ‘N Sync, they’re the least bit times appealing as a community. I possess below no circumstances considered them argue with every various, and that roughly scares me.”

And within the At the wait on of the Tune particular for BSB, Wright recalled his remaining stumble upon with the community sooner than severing ties. “The rest thing I talked about to them became once we had a grand traipse collectively and we were successful collectively, but now you are inserting me in a train the save apart I possess to work in opposition to you.’ So I became my consideration to making ‘N Sync essentially the most successful band I maybe might maybe maybe.”

Judge in regards to the battle for boy band dominance formally on.

After that, BSB struck first, releasing their shatter hit album Millennium. It hasty shattered the file for first-week album gross sales, promoting 1.1 million in its opening week in Can also 1999.

Paul Bergen/Redferns

Peaceful, success became once bittersweet, as the terms of their settlement with Pearlman ended with him silent getting 1/6th of their earnings, even though the band, which referred to themselves as “indentured servants” of their suit, collectively had handiest got $300,000 when put next to the $10 million Trans Continental seen from 1993-97. “Or not it’s ridiculous,” Littrell, who became once the first to sue Pearlman, told Rolling Stone in 2000. “He’s doing no work.”

At the an identical time, ‘N Sync became once relishing their own freedom following a bitter factual battle with Pearlman. Linked to BSB, Bass memorably recounted Pearlman presenting every member of the band with a check for merely $10,000 at a dinner after promoting over 10 million data. It became once the first time they had been paid apart from for receiving a every single day $35 stipend.

“Now not to sound ungrateful, because it became once heaps of cash,” Bass talked about, “but while you happen to review it to how many hours we had set apart into this community for years, it didn’t even contact minimal wage the least bit. It became once so insulting. It felt love somebody had punched me within the face.”

Due to he didn’t approach up with the cash for to rent a attorney, Chasez asked his uncle, who became once an attorney, to survey over their contract. “Right here’s one among the worst contracts I’ve ever considered in song commercial,” became once the review, with the member of the family realizing Pearlman has essentially made himself the sixth member of the band.

Matt Baron/BEI/REX/Shutterstock

“He wished to be the sixth member of the community…and I agree with he wished these boys to test him that plot too,” Timberlake’s mother Lynn talked about in The Boy Band Con, “and if he hadn’t taken perfect thing about them, they would possess.”

Because of a cramped technicality they indicate of their contract—if they weren’t signed to a sign within the united statesin a definite quantity of time their contract became once void, and they also had been signed to a sign in Germany—’N Sync became once in a space to derive a long way flung from Trans Continental and RCA…but Pearlman wasn’t about to switch down with out a fight, suing the band for the identify ‘N Sync in a $150 million lawsuit in October 1999. The band countersued for $25 million.

Backstreet Boys Part Select on Sleek Lou Pearlman Doc

They in the end bought to defend their identify, with the suit being settled out of courtroom. They left RCA and joined Jive Data, BSB’s sign.

And their 1999 emancipation from Pearlman proved to be the closing inspiration for the community’s next album, No Strings Attached, an instantaneous reference to their puppet strings being lower. Their first single? “Bye Bye Bye.”

Refined? No. Winning? Insanely so.

Objective accurate how powerful a monster success became once No Strings Attached? It equipped 2.4 million copies in its first-week in 2000, essentially doubling the old file, which became once train handiest months sooner than by their archrival. (Their file would not be broken unless Adele‘s 25 in 2015.)

Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.

Earlier than Celeb‘s originate in 2001, ‘N Sync wished to scheme it stir they were various than—ahem—some various teams of their vogue.

“Or not it’s essentially nearly love a execrable slang to us,” Kirkpatrick told Rolling Stone of the “boy band” sign. “When you disclose ‘boy band,’ you are grouping us accurate into a bunch of teams that every person thinks are very identical, and they also’re nothing love us. They’re ceaselessly 5 guys or four guys or various similarities here and there, but it’s only 1 of these items. We now possess spent six years looking to derive out of the shadow of being this boy-band thing.”

One one year after Celeb‘s originate, ‘N Sync launched they were occurring a transient hiatus. Nonetheless it ended up changing accurate into a permanent discontinue to the community as they below no circumstances recorded or toured collectively all over again. 

Over the years, ‘N Sync has every so ceaselessly reunited to originate collectively, including the 2013 MTV Tune Video Awards to originate a medley of their hits as piece of a tribute to Timberlake, who became once receiving the Main edge Award. In 2018, they reunited all over again to receive their broad identify on the Hollywood Stroll of Popularity, making a joint appearance on The Ellen Degeneres Video show

One person not ready to derive out of the boy band shadow became once Pearlman.


Although his lawsuits with Backstreet and ‘N Sync were smartly-documented, Pearlman persevered to settle a survey at and derive the next broad thing in song, even launching ABC and later MTV’s hit series, Making the Band, which formed O-City.

“When I seen that,” Richardson talked about of the indicate, “I about puked. I imply, the frequent person sitting there gazing that indicate is perchance love, ‘So here is how the Backstreet Boys came to be.’ No, it will not be. All he did became once give us cash to switch into the studio and work on our craft, which we’re thankful for. Nonetheless he’s making himself to be the fellow twisting the knobs, and it’s merely not so.”

Love ‘N Sync, BSB outmoded their experience with Pearlman and the indelible marks it left on them as gas for his or her third album, 2000’s Black and Blue, a reference to the plot their frail mentor had bruised them.

“We’re on to better and better things,” Littrell talked about of the experience. “And we’re better males for it.”

In the waste, their respective betrayals brought them collectively, one thing “Big Poppa” below no circumstances would’ve anticipated and absolutely dreaded, with Wright recalling a broad moment merely sooner than the bands made their broad moves in opposition to Pearlman. Each and each bands were competing in a charity basketball sport, with Timberlake, Chasez, Littrell and Carter heading to McDonald’s afterwards. Wright might maybe maybe hear them whispering about Pearlman within the wait on of the automobile, both reps from every band airing their grievances.

“That became once why he kept the two bands apart from every various,” The Boy Band Con‘s director Aaron Kunkel told Folks, “because he knew that if they started talking to every various, they’d perhaps start evaluating notes.”

Soon after, a “livid” Littrell went to the many contributors and talked about, ‘I are looking to file a lawsuit.'”

The the rest of the band at remaining filed fits as smartly, as they were the first of Pearlman’s acts to settle factual action in opposition to him.

Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage

“He ended up bringing us all collectively more,” Bass told Folks. “Inspect on the Backstreet Boys, magnificent? We below no circumstances spoke to them. We were the least bit times skittish of them. Now after the fact, we’re all essentially factual chums because they went by strategy of one thing that we can handiest clarify to—it essentially bonded all of us.”

Nonetheless that failed to imply the Backstreet Boys’ contributors were jumping on the likelihood to settle piece in The Boy Band Con, hesitant to commence up about their experience with Pearlman all over again.

“Backstreet Boys were essentially love, ‘No, we would not even contact this!'” Bass published for the length of a dwell taping of the Homophilia podcast at SXSW, the save apart The Boy Band Con held its world premiere. Nonetheless one member became once willing to narrate.

“A.J. wished to form it, love, ‘Inspect, I will talk for the boys, they belief me to present an explanation for our legend,'” Bass talked about.

For McLean, it’s silent “complicated,” as he outlined to The Irish Times. “Some of us will below no circumstances technique to terms with it. He gave us the alternatives that led us to getting signed to Jive Data. Or not it’s sad. Had he not gone that route he’d silent presumably be a broad piece of our lives,” he talked about. “Nonetheless commercial and greed bought within the plot. I don’t agree with any of us hates him if truth be told. Or not it’s bittersweet. Or not it’s onerous to detest somebody that brought you into your own. Nonetheless it’s furthermore essentially onerous to appreciate somebody who lied to your face for who knows how long.”

Matt Baron/REX/Shutterstock

Excluding ending any feud or opponents with ‘N Sync that became once contrived by Pearlman, BSB later reconciled with Wright. The band teamed up with their frail manager all over again in 2003, with McLean asserting within the At the wait on of the Tune episode, “Why not set apart the A team wait on collectively that became once collectively a decade ago?”

After a prolonged hiatus, BSB launched its comeback album, Never Gone, in 2005, but only 1 one year later, Richardson launched he became once leaving the community. “He gave his blessing to proceed the song with out him,” the rest four contributors talked about in an announcement. “We do not possess any procedure of fixing Kevin, and the door will the least bit times be commence for him to return to the Backstreet Boys. We need him the the entire supreme in his future endeavors.”

Two albums and six years later, Richardson rejoined the community permanently. They’ve since launched more albums, started a Las Vegas residency and possess equipped over 100 million data worldwide, changing into one among the shriek-promoting boy band of all-time. 

As for Pearlman, he became once sentenced to 25 years in detention center in 2008 after being accused of running one among a truly extra special and longest-running Ponzi schemes in history, bilking traders out of more than $300 million.

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BSB took him wait on to courtroom in 2014, claiming they were silent owed nearly $3.5 million. In the waste, the band got a settlement of $99,000 cash, 34 audio tape reels, 26 CDs, seven studio mastering audio tapes, six sealed posters, three audio cassettes and one VHS tape. The recordings incorporated some unreleased mixes, demos and customary materials.

In 2010, Pearlman suffered a stroke while incarcerated, and in 2016, he died after going into cardiac arrest.

“It became once essentially the most mixed emotions ever,” Kirkpatrick talked about in The Boy Band Con of Pearlman’s passing. “You do not know whether to remark. You do not know whether to chortle. You do not know whether to be relieved. You do not know whether to feel execrable for him, snug for every person else. There is so powerful injurious with all the things about him and what took train that you don’t even know tips on how to settle demise.” 

(Originally published on Wed. Apr 3, 2019, 3: 00 a.m. PST)

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