Two decades after they said “Bye Bye Bye,” ‘NSync is back with a brand new song.
In “Better Place,” released Friday, September 29, the beloved boy band – Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, Lance Bass, Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick – show that while they’re a bit older than when they used to dominate TRL and the Billboard Hot 100, they haven’t lost a step. Set against a disco sound, “Better Place” seems to nod at the passage of time since ‘NSync’s heyday and to anyone longing for the innocent times of MySpace’s Top 8, flip phones and AOL Instant Messenger.
“I don’t mind if the world spins faster,” the band sings on the track. “The music’s louder, the waves get stronger / I don’t mind if the world spins faster, faster, faster / Just let me take you to a better place.” Later on the track, the group croons, “Don’t want it any other way / Tell all your friends are gonna stay / When we’re together / You know that we do it better.”
The song is featured on the upcoming movie Trolls Band Together, the third installment in the animated franchise that features Timberlake, 42, Anna Kendrick and more.
“So many stars aligned and that’s why I hit y’all and was like, ‘Hey, something came up,'” Timberlake, said in a behind-the-scenes video posted to his Instagram on September 15. “If we do this song, it’s a love letter to our fans. I would be honored to have the group on this song.”
“Better Place” marks the group’s first musical release since 2002; that year, the Neptunes remixed “Girlfriend.” The latest Trolls film, out November 17, reveals how Branch (Timberlake) was once a member of BroZone alongside his brothers (voiced by Daveed Diggs, Kid Cudi, Troye Sivan and Eric André). When one of the brothers gets kidnapped, Branch and Poppy (Anna Kendrick) reunite the band in hopes of rescuing the trapped troll.
The new song comes weeks after the group publicly reunited at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards to present Best Pop Video’s first award of the night. “Over 20 years ago, we were just kids when we won Best Pop Video for ‘Bye Bye Bye,'” said Chasez, 47. “It was our first VMA and it meant the world to us.”
After presenting the award to Taylor Swift for “Anti-Hero,” she had some questions for the group. “I’m not doing well pivoting,” Swift said. “Like, I had your dolls. Like, are you doing something? What’s going to happen now?”
Members of the group teased doing something more in the wake of the appearance. “It was a very natural thing. The last 23 years, we’ve all kind of discussed maybe doing something here, maybe doing something there,” Bass, 44, told Us Weekly after the VMAs. Fatone, 46, added that this new song was “just one of those things, like, ‘Wow, OK, we’re doing this.’ So we are just very happy to see what happens.”
Despite the reunion at the VMAs and on “Better Place,” ‘NSync has no plans for a full-fledged reunion, according to Billboard. Timberlake has touring plans of his own for 2024, with the outlet reporting that he plans to have a new solo album out by then.