Skip to main contentSkip to footer

Why did NSYNC split up? Real reason explored amid reports of comeback

 Justin Timberlake and his reunited bandmates nearly stole the spotlight from Taylor Swift at the 2023 MTV VMAs

NSYNC waiting backstage during the 2023 Video Music Awards
Rebecca Lewis
Rebecca LewisReporterLos Angeles
Share this:

The late 1990s were a true oasis for pop music fans – and none were doing it better than NSYNC. Formed in 1995 and made up of Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, Lance Bass, Chris Kirkpatrick, and Joey Fatone, they made their mark in Europe before debuting in the US with the hit single 'I Want You Back' in 1997.

They went on to receive eight Grammy nominations, and winning three American Music Awards, five Billboard Music Awards, and seven MTV Video Music Awards. But after the global success of their 2001 album Celebrity, the band took an unlikely hiatus – and never returned… 

One of the first images of NSYNC taken in Germany© ullstein bild
One of the first images of NSYNC taken in Germany

Why did NSYNC break up? 

The band went on a brief hiatus in 2003 after the success of their 2002 tour honoring the hit album Celebrity and reunited in 2004 to perform the national anthem at the 2004 NSYNC Challenge for the Children.

However work on a new album continued to be pushed aside – and the band members have spoken publicly about those years that followed, and the rifts that began to fracture the five. 

"It started as a fun snowball fight that was becoming an avalanche," Justin said of the band's success, adding: "And, also, I was growing out of it. I felt like I cared more about the music than some of the other people in the group. And I felt like I had other music I wanted to make and that I needed to follow my heart."

Recording artist Justin Timberlake performs onstage during the Pepsi Super Bowl LII Halftime Show at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018© Christopher Polk
Recording artist Justin Timberlake performs onstage during the Pepsi Super Bowl LII Halftime Show at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018

Justin, now 42, went on to release his debut album Justified in 2002, which included hit singles 'Like I Love You, and 'Cry Me a River. His career has seen him win 10 Grammy Awards, four Emmy Awards -  twice for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics and twice for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series -  nine Billboard Music Awards, and the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award. 

What did Joey Fatone say about NSYNC's breakup? 

However Joey and Lance have both shared that they were blindsided by the band's continued hiatus, and claimed that Justin had failed to be transparent about his career plans. 

NSYNC gave their first ever televised performance of 'It's Gonna Be Me' in 2000© Ken Hively
NSYNC gave their first ever televised performance of 'It's Gonna Be Me' in 2000

"I said, 'Listen, I'm all good with everybody doing their own [expletive]. I'm totally fine with it, just let us know next time.' Meaning: I could've done a lot more than sit around waiting for your dumb ass while you're going out on tour.," Joey told Jenny McCarthy of the years that followed. 

"I could've, honestly. 'Cause the minute we parted our ways in the sense of a group I was like 'I went and did Broadway - I did Rent on Broadway, I did Little Shop of Horrors.' I started doing things at first, I was waiting 'cause I know that when you do an album and you're doing stuff with a group it takes a long—it's a long process. So it was interesting. I was just like 'Dude, just let me know next time,' I said. 'Cause next time I ain't waiting for nobody." 

What did Lance Bass say about NSYNC's breakup?

In Lance's autobiography, he added that the five were never on "bad terms", but that he was left most disappointed in the way Justin and the wider team left him sitting around waiting for the possibility of a new album knowing it would not be happening. 

"What I was most disappointed in was not just Justin leaving the band, it's that our whole team - our record label, our management, everything like that - they all knew. They all knew it was over for three years before they told me. And so for three years I'm sitting there getting ready for a new album as everyone else knows we're moving on," he told Michael Rosenbaum's Inside of You podcast.

Justin reportedly confirmed he would be leaving the band in 2004. 

Joey Fatone, Lance Bass, Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, and Chris Kirkpatrick of  *NSYNC speak onstage the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards at Prudential Center on September 12, 2023© Johnny Nunez
Joey, Lance, Justin, JC, and Chris reunited at the MTV VMAs

When did NSYNC reunite? 

On August 25, 2013, the members of NSYNC shocked fans when they reunited for a one-off performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, where they sang a medley of  hits including 'Girlfriend' and 'Bye Bye Bye'. 

They were pictured together in 2018 when they were honored with star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Last night, on September 12, they appeared on stage at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards, where they gifted Taylor Swift with the Best Pop award. They are reportedly all appearing in a new Trolls film, Trolls Band Together – and they will have a new single on the soundtrack. 

Taylor Swift is the Anti-Hero of 2023 MTV Video Music Awards

Does NSYNC have new music? 

Reportedly the band will release their first song in over 20 years, 'Take You to a Better Place', which will appear on the soundtrack for Justin Timberlake's new film Trolls Band Together.

What albums did NSYNC release? 

NSYNC in Germany, circa 1997 © ullstein bild
NSYNC in Germany, circa 1997

The band released four albums; their self-titled debut 'N Sync in 1997, which sold 15 million copies worldwide, and a Christmas album, Home for Christmas, in 1998.

2000's No Strings Attached debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 after selling 2.4 million copies in its first week. It was a record held for 15 years until Adele's 2015 album 25.

It was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album at the 43rd Annual Grammy Awards but lost to Steely Dan.  

NSYNC in concert in 2000 © Ken Hively
NSYNC received eight Grammy nominations

Their fourth and final album Celebrity in 2001 sold over 1.8 million in its opening week, hitting the number one spot on the Billboard 200. It was also nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album in 2002 but lost to Sade. 

They released their Greatest Hits in 2005 and in 2010 released The Collection, which featured singles released in the UK only, alongside popular tracks from their studio albums.

Get the lowdown on the biggest, hottest celebrity news, features and profiles coming out of the U.S.  Sign up to our HELLO! Hollywood newsletterand get them delivered straight to your inbox. 

More Celebrity News

See more