Is it 2000 all over again? After days of speculation, all five members of TRL all-stars *NSync took the stage at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, proving they haven’t lost a step of that memorable choreography.
Justin Timberlake performed a collection of his past and present hits (from “Like I Love You” to “Take Back The Night“) before accepting the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award–an acknowledgment of his hold over pop culture for the last 15 years. It was a medley that satisfied audience members previously confounded by Miley Cyrus twerking on Robin Thicke, forced Will Smith to put a pause on his chaperoning duties and get out of his seat and dance, and left pal Jimmy Fallon red in the face after rattling off his list of accolades. A great “free” set for those sitting on the couch at home, but if you shelled out the big bucks for a Legends of the Summer ticket, you might feel a little jipped (…that’s it?).
But this moment was more about tapping into nostalgia. Thirteen years ago the dudes of *NSync were at their peak, performing with TVs for heads and showing off the possibility of leather shirts at VMAs. Like Beyoncé at the Super Bowl, Justin’s four former groupmates were there to celebrate his big achievement, literally popping out of the ground for snippets of “Gone,” “Girlfriend,” and, yes, “Bye Bye Bye.” It was likely not the “reunion” that we all would have hoped for, and pointed out just how different a path JT has taken from his former bandmates. Just like we can’t all be Queen Bey, not every member of a boy band will go one to have one-fourth of the solo career as JT (no need to rub it in with your mean jokes, Kevin Hart!). Yet much of Justin’s initial success grew from those who voted for him on TRL and memorized his synchronized dance skills. Chris, JC, Joey, and Lance are no longer in the same place in their lives, but they all had a large part in helping Justin become the man Taylor Swift can’t help but sexy dance to “Half of the Moonmen I’ve ever won, I’ve won with those four guys right there,” he told the crowd. “I’m going to keep it at my house, but I’m going to share this award with them.” Too bad they had already vanished into the ground by the time that he said that.