It’s a legitimate question. Following the surprise appearance of *NSYNC members Lance Bass, JC Chasez, Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick with Ariana Grande at the Coachella music festival on April 15, could the group stage a comeback play without Justin Timberlake?
The foursome took to the stage deep into Grande’s song “Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored” and followed with a joint version of the boy band’s “Tearin’ Up My Heart,” complete with vintage choreography recreated and Grande herself stepping in to replace Timberlake. The response was massive, though viewers were split over whether “it’s really ‘N Sync if JT isn’t there,” as Variety reported that night.
“There are offers,” says a source familiar with *NSYNC dealings, who notes that outreach about a possible reunion tour as a foursome existed even before the Coachella appearance — Grande’s request simply marks the first time they agreed to do it. It’s also worth taking stock of the fact that Timberlake was looped in on plans concerning the Coachella performance, according to another insider, so the guys did have his blessing to appear as a foursome. Each member of *NSYNC has independent management — Chasez by Eric Podwall of Podwall Entertainment; Fatone by Joe Mulvihill of Livewire Entertainment, who also handles Boyz II Men; Kirkpatrick by Gina Orr of Orrigami Entertainment; and Bass by Melinda Bell of StraightUp Entertainment Group. It’s unclear if there is a representative for the group as a whole currently.
Timberlake has enjoyed a long a fruitful solo career, starting with his first hit “Like I Love You” in 2002, released a year after *NSYNC’s final studio album, 2001’s “Celebrity.” Ten Grammys and 17 years later, Timberlake just wrapped his 13-month Man of the Woods tour with revenue totaling $207.1 million, based on 1.6 million sold tickets at 105 concerts, according to Pollstar.
But carrying the bulk of the vocals in *NSYNC sans Timberlake would ultimately fall on Chasez, who was ostensibly the other main singer in the group. Indeed, when Grande and her manager Scooter Braun first reached out, Grande was connected with Chasez who later spoke to the guys, says an insider. Once the performance was confirmed, choreographer Kyle Hanagami, who worked on Jennifer Lopez’s Las Vegas residency and is also represented by Podwall, was drafted to work out the dance moves (see video from rehearsals below).
Effectively, the decision to reunite falls on Chasez as much as on Timberlake’s lack of participation. But the demand is there, and if the recent comeback of the Jonas Brothers has shown, a yearning for nostalgia remains when it comes to the songs of a generation’s youth. In the case of *NSYNC, when the group received its star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame a year ago, thousands flooded Hollywood Blvd. to cheer on. Further proof of their relevance today, Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks mistakenly affiliated Harry Styles with *NSYNC (he’s an alum of One Direction) following her induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.