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Backstreet Boys or N*SYNC? Your life depends on it.

I was on the way to tennis practice with my older brother, all of 13, when he casually asked me if I preferred the N*SYNC or the Backstreet Boys. I distinctly remember being baffled and terrified. I knew this question would come at some point, but I really didn’t think it would happen this way. I was totally unprepared.

It was really my fault for not having an answer prepared. I just never really cared enough to plan it out and give myself a defensible position. I mean, I wasn’t a mutant; I enjoyed ‘It’s Gonna Be Me’ on TRL and thought Nick Carter was a dream (so mainstream). I mostly felt sorry for the slightly unfortunate looking 2-3/5 of each band that never really did more that make weird faces or look pained in the background. I think they were just placed there to accentuate the blonde dudes hotness.

But back to the car. My brother – five years older – had recently stopped finding me exceptionally annoying, much to my own shock. As such, I felt the need to prove myself in every conversation. And this clearly was a huge moment. In classic form, I tried to hide my lack of a position by just going balls out in one random direction. I don’t remember exactly what I said but I know that I railed against N*SYNC. I just went on and on about their plastic-y sound, their smarminess and general all-around lameness. When I ran out of things to say, I looked over at him to see if I’d said the right thing. He was smiling a little.

“Why? Who do you prefer?” I asked, trying to hide my nervousness. He just shrugged and said he they seemed about the same to him.

My problem was that I’d emptied my ‘tween pop obsession reserves on Hanson by the time the Boys and the SYNCs(?) showed up. By that summer, I was already making moves toward my Aerosmith stage. I was a fantastic little weirdo, if I may be so bold. I knew every lyric to ‘Love in an Elevator’ and ‘Janie’s Got a Gun’ by the time I was 12.

Several weeks later, I had almost succeeded in repressing the memory of my performance in the car. Then one morning, one of the other coaches, a friend of my brother’s, let it slip that he’d somehow come up with two tickets to the N*SYNC show and was, in fact, attempting to ask me if I wanted to go.

With the benefit of time, I must firstly say that was a douchey thing for that broad to tell me. She had no way of knowing the depth of my neuroses, but still. Sloppy.

Second of all, oh my God. I felt terrible and knew I was doomed back to annoying little sisterhood. I slunk around him for several weeks and was too horrifically embarrassed to ever bring it up. I’m not even certain I’ve ever told anyone about it. Plus, how unfair was I to N*SYNC? I was such a brute.

I think I’m going to reclaim that moment for myself right now. Healing starts today.

“Actually, they’re both pretty good. I have a mix with a bunch of all of their songs in my discman right now. Wanna get bagels before practice?”

As long as we’re being honest, though, BSB totally nailed it with ‘The One’. That song is airtight.

by Elizabeth Nowrouz

Visit Elizabeth’s blog at

Sponsored by: South of the South

  • Alice Vaught

    “The One” is my all time fave BSB song, you’re so right about that. Glad I’m not the only one crippled into occasional douche-y-ness by wanting to be cool in front of my older brothers.

  • Shannon Patrick

    I’m wearing my NKOTBSB shirt right now (at work) from the concert this past June. So, there’s that.

  • Sarah Butler

    I used to spend hours on boy band message boards, defending the honesty and purity of the Backstreet Boys’ music against rabid NSYNC fans. HOURS I tell you. I was Keeping The Backstreet Pride Alive in the most literal and dedicated fashion. :)

  • Samantha C Taylor

    Nsync, ride till I die.

  • Laura Griffith

    I love the boys, but they are no NSYNC.

  • Karoline Onsrud

    The first thing I did after reading this was YouTube Backstreet Boys’ ‘The One’. I prefer BSB over N*Sync, but have to admit I loved Westlife the most!

  • Katie Grimmer

    N*Sync. They’re still Tearin’ Up My Heart.

  • Natalia Jiménez Valdés

    Backstreet boys forever… and justin timberlake alone.. are the best!

  • Lissa M

    Are you kidding me? There is no question that *NSYNC was waaaay better than Backstreet Boys. Also, FWIW, the * comes before the N…. lol

  • Flor Quintas

    Backstreet Boys, but only because they were “presented” here before than in the US (I went to the US when I was 12 around the time their 2nd cd came out and was so excited to buy their new album before all my friends, only to find out they only had one album out there and it was a mix of the “first” and “second”)
    N’Sync wasn’t really that known here until ‘No Strings Attached’. I think the question for us tweens back then was “BSB or 5ive?”h?”

  • Sarah Elizabeth Hawkins

    Truth be known, back 10-12 years ago, when World War III seemed like it was going to start over BSB or *NSYNC, I didn’t really have a preference. I liked them both, though I always leaned more toward BSB. It’s only now that I find myself strictly on one side of the issue, and that would of course be that BSB is wayyyy better. Their sound is tighter, and more classic. A radio station here does Big 90’s Weekends every weekend, and I find myself enjoying BSB songs far more than *NSYNC. Yep.

  • Hannah Greene


    I’m 27 years old and seeing them for the first time in concert later this month! Holla!!

  • Jenny Lazo

    Backstreet Boys all the way. <3

  • Carrie Cook

    I think that BSB’s highs (The One, I Want It That Way) are higher than N*Sync’s, but that N*Sync is more consistent and, let’s be real, hotter.

    I can’t believe I am 26 and just seriously considered and answered that question.

  • Courtney Nichols

    Back in the day, I was a ride or die *NSYNC chick. I once got a caricature done by some random artist on the streets in Dallas (safe, right?), which shows me dancing next to a boom box and some *NSYNC lyrics. Not sure which song it was, but I’m sure it was the bomb diggity. Now, though, I enjoy BSB a LOT. I feel like I didn’t even give them a chance when I was little because of hottness that is Justin Timberlake… but hey. Now I’m giving them a chance and I love them. I don’t know if I could choose between the two of them, though. I like my 90’s mixes to have both bands in it. As well as Spice Girls and old school Britney and Christina. And LFO. And O-Town. And Mandy Moore 😉

  • Laura Ortega

    I definitely preferred *NSYNC over BSB, but I think you had it right the first time with Hanson! I am almost 27 years old and I still love them as much as I did when I was 12! :)

  • Lauren Nespoli

    I was more of an *NSYNC fan, but I liked the Backstreet Boys also!

  • Kaitlyn Shore

    I saw both in concert, but *NSYNC was my FIRST concert and I just can’t forget the feeling that Justin’s curls gave my young heart.

  • Sarah Rhea Reveles

    Backstreet Boys were and are still my #1 band! Black & Blue concert is still high on my list of favorite concerts. And at 24 I still get giddy every time their songs come on.

  • Lauren Williams

    I was always torn between the two. One had Nick Carter, the other had Justin Timberlake. Choosing between those two is the hardest decision a girl will ever have to make.

    BRB, going to download all of BSB’s and *NSYNC’s albums.

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