Hard to believe that *NSYNC released a mere three proper albums over the course of a mere three years in their reign as one of the two most-popular boy bands in the great teen pop boom at the turn of the millennium. Given their constant presence on the charts, on MTV, on the airwaves and on magazine covers, it seems like their time in the spotlight lasted much, much longer, but such mass multimedia saturation only gives the illusion of longevity and it doesn't give much of an indication of the durability of the group's music, either. Of course, pop music isn't necessarily meant to be durable -- it's meant to exist in the moment, and once that moment passes, the hit singles of a given day either wind up as classics that retain some of their initial power, or they become an aural snapshot of a given moment, a way to revisit a particular place in time. And nowhere is that better illustrated than on *NSYNC's first compilation, 2005's lean 12-song Greatest Hits. Appearing four years after their final album, 2001's Celebrity, Greatest Hits contains every one of their 11 non-holiday-themed Billboard Hot 100 singles, adding "I'll Never Stop" -- previously featured as a bonus track on certain foreign-market pressings of No Strings Attached -- to round things out. Since this has all the hits, along with surprisingly detailed liner notes from Chuck Taylor, this not only is a good overview and introduction to *NSYNC, but it's also their most consistent and enjoyable album since their proper records, like most teen pop records, were cluttered with filler. But that doesn't necessarily mean that their hits have stood the test of time. This collection proves that *NSYNC's music evokes a time and place -- the heady days of the Y2K roll-over, just before the stock market crashed, just before George W. Bush took office -- but it doesn't transcend their era. This is because the group not only doesn't have much on-record charisma, but their singles are constructed as records, existing entirely on the surface, lacking the backbone of a strong song. There are hooks scattered throughout here -- almost all arriving on the chorus, whether on propulsive dance numbers like "Bye Bye Bye" or on ballads like "Tearin' Up My Heart" -- but the tracks rarely, if ever, have the narrative momentum of a good song. This is not as great a trouble as it may seem -- after all, these singles were hits because of their sound, which is gleaming, attractive and proudly, even defiantly, lightweight. It may not be lasting, but it's a real pleasure for many listeners and anyone that wants to relive *NSYNC's glory years will find this satisfies their needs.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
feat: Gloria Estefan