One day later, we have the music. Or at least a tease of music to come.
On Tuesday, the five members of NSync appeared on stage together for the first time in a decade, presenting the first trophy of the night at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards. Fans, however, were disappointed that Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, Lance Bass, Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick didn’t deliver any music, only a Moonperson to an overcome Taylor Swift.
That was remedied on Wednesday night, when the new trailer for Trolls Band Together, the latest installment in the hit animated franchise featuring the voice and music of Timberlake, dropped. The clip was soundtracked by the song “Better Place” — the first new tune featuring the original NSync lineup since 2001.
The full song will be released Sept. 29 from RCA Records. Trolls Band Together, which happens to be about the defunct Troll band BroZone reuniting (“We still got it!”), arrives in theaters on Nov. 17.
Timberlake essentially put the blockbuster boy band on ice when he announced his departure in 2004 and launched a solo career that included hit albums and major movie roles. But there had been hopeful signs of a reunion over the past 20 years.
The last time all five members of NSync appeared onstage was exactly a decade ago, at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, during a blink-and-you-missed-it medley of “Girlfriend” and “Bye Bye Bye” celebrating Timberlake’s Video Vanguard Award. The much-hyped “surprise” moment had Taylor Swift fangirling in the audience, but it was so brief — only two minutes of Timberlake’s overall 15-minute musical number — that fans were understandably disappointed. (One disgruntled viewer tweeted at the time that NSync’s cameo was “short enough to fit the entire thing in an Instagram video.”)
NSync’s Lance Bass, JC Chasez, Joey Fatone and Kirkpatrick reunited again for another “surprise” appearance during Ariana Grande’s headlining set at 2019’s Coachella festival, but Timberlake sat that one out. Later that year, when asked about the possibility of a full group reunion, Bass readily told Yahoo Entertainment, “Look, you don’t have to ask me — I’m in! I would love to do more NSync music. … If there’s any time, it would be right now!”
That took us to Tuesday’s 2023 VMAs at Newark’s Prudential Center. Amid sightings of all five boy band members in the New York City area the day before the awards and reports that the group had recorded new for Trolls Band Together, fans grew hopeful that NSync would reunite again on the VMAs stage — hopefully this time for more than two minutes.
The thinking went that Timberlake — whose image has taken a downturn due to the weak sales for most recent studio album Man of the Woods, a critically panned halftime performance at Super Bowl LII, backlash over his past treatment of Janet Jackson and Britney Spears (for which he finally issued a poorly received public apology in 2021), and a cringey 2022 dance video that went viral for all the wrong reasons — may have decided that the timing was right for a career-boosting NSync reunion tour or album.
But as it turned out, NSync did not perform at Tuesday’s VMAs. They only presented. And their appearance came shockingly early in the night, when they announced first on-air category of the telecast, Best Pop Video. The award went to “Anti-Hero” by the night’s leading nominee, the woman Timberlake called “the unstoppable Taylor Swift.”
The “millennial-triggered” Swift looked even more excited than she did back in 2013, as she ran to the stage and exchanged hugs and friendship bracelets with her childhood idols. “I am not doing well pivoting from this to this,” she breathlessly confessed, glancing from the quintet, who she described as “pop personified,” to the Moonperson trophy in her hands. “I had the [NSync] dolls!”
But then Swift asked NSync the question on everyone’s minds: “Are you doing something? What’s going to happen now?” She quickly insisted, “Oh, they’re gonna do something — and I need to know what it is!” But the guys revealed nothing. There was no big announcement.
Turns out, we just needed to wait 24 hours.
Carol Dennis is an entertainment aficionado with an eye for all things pop culture. She dives into the glitz and glamour of the entertainment industry, from movie premieres to music festivals. Carol’s passion for storytelling extends beyond her reporting, as she’s an aspiring screenwriter in her free time.