Behind every memorably iconic pop band is a handful of cringe-worthy solo "careers" that prove good things come in higher numbers. Though it's rarely for a lack of talent, the truth is that most turn-of-the-millennium pop acts—your NSYNC, your Spice Girls, what have you—are heavily reliant on a strong vocal blend, a collaboration of strong personalities, and a charmingly coordinated image. You isolate one of the weaker, non-Justin Timberlake links from that package, and it sometimes lands you with some very side-eye worthy music videos. Scroll down to see what we mean.
It is very plausible that you remember this song infiltrating your airwaves in a post Newlyweds world. There are, we'll admit, worse songs in the universe. However, we're willing to bet that you've mentally blocked out how secondhand embarrassing the music video actually is. Not for anything, but Taylor Swift gets castrated on the regular for alluding to her exes, and yet we all let this guy whine about his failed marriage to the bronze medal of '90s teen pop starlets for an entire album. Nick, please. She couldn't tell the difference between chicken and fish, it was no big loss.
Yeah, no thank you to aaaaall of what's happening here. JC, who seemed rather sensitive during his NSYNC days, hit the brash sexuality button really hard on this one. The problem is that for all of his vocal prowess, JC is no JT. You need to have a heavy helping of charisma to pull off something as retrospectively insipid as "SexyBack," and even that, we think, is dealt with more subtlety than this hot mess.
JC also has a song called "Blowin' Me Up (With Her Love)" which we refuse to watch because his hair is doing a scraggly-greasy thing, and is also maybe about blowjobs. TBH, we're ok with not making that Google search and finding out.
If you have that cute and that cartoonishly round of a face, nothing you can do is an outright failure. Still, this feels wrong, right? The sound doesn't feel off brand or anything. It just sounds like a Spice Girls b-side, even though Spice Girls b-sides usually sound like the awkward karaoke intonation of a traditional pop song. BUT LIKE. THIS IS BABY SPICE. Where is your lollipop? Where are your pigtails? We get that her girlband brand is still centralized around a Lolita-like appeal, but we also just want her mom to drive up to the club in a soccer van and take her home.
All of this is almost literally a mortifying look of what Nick Carter's post-Backstreet life would/could/was(?) like. Just playing acoustic guitar in redneck pubs, breaking chairs, shacking it up with some chick who seems to be a call out to Paris Hilton (remember that, that was a thing). It's just upsetting to watch Nick ride the Struggle Bus all over the desert. Ride that Struggle Bus home, Nick Carter. The Backstreet Boys are waiting for you.
"But wait," you're saying. "Kelly's had a pretty succesful solo career!" Like, ok, "Stole" is pretty good in spite of its maudlin storyline, and in any other girl group she would be the standout member. But would you want to live in the massive shadow of Beyoncé? Sometimes we forget that Kelly is even doing her own thing… except when we remember the "Dissolution" music video. Like, why is she texting Nelly in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet? Idk, we just feel bad — Beyoncé ended up creating iconic visual albums, shooting epic neon colored pregnancy photoshoots, and Kelly gets ghosted by Nelly on primitive technology.
All we're saying is that it's very clear who Destiny's favorite child was.
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