Making the transition from bubblegum idols to artistes is usually about as awkward as a case of acne on prom night. Such are the growing pains facing 'N Sync, now that the pop phenoms have all left behind their teens. (The quintet's youngest member, Justin Timberlake, turned 20 in January.) Not to mention that they are facing the very grown-up pressure of following up last year's biggest album, the 11-million-selling "No Strings Attached".
That's why "Celebrity" represents such an impressive achievement for Timberlake, JC Chasez, Lance Bass, Chris Kirkpatrick and Joey Fatone. While experimenting with edgier sounds, such as the two-step of the jittery first single "Pop" and the sinister funk of the title track, they also pump up their boy-band appeal with the lush five-part harmonies of "Girlfriend," "Do Your Thing" and the simply stunning ballad "Gone."
Bottom Line: Men among boy bands