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'N SYNC's achievement is impressive. The group started out as a commercial response to the successful Backstreet Boys and seemed destined to exist in that other group's shadow. Sure, NSYNC's 1998, self-titled debut record sold 10 million copies, but the Backstreet Boys have done that twice. Plus that number isn't what it used to be; recent releases by Britney Spears and Santana have both racked up similar totals.

All of a sudden, NSYNC ruled the teen roost, a crowded hangout these days also populated by Spears, Christina Aguilera, Mandy Moore, 98 Degrees and others who pump out the innocuous, feel-good sounds rejuvenated a few years ago by the Spice Girls and Hanson.

NSYNC one-upped them all - as well as everyone else who ever released a record. Fueled by the singles "Bye Bye Bye" and "It's Gonna Be Me," the record sold 2.4 million copies its first week, busting wide open the Backstreet Boys' year-old record for selling 1.1 million first-week copies of their latest CD, "Millennium."

Actually, NSYNC sold 1.1 million copies of "No Strings Attached" in just one day. At roughly the same time, Spears issued a new record, as did the Detroit rapper Eminem, and both of those discs topped 1.1 million their first week out, pushing the Backstreet Boys into an uncomfortable fourth place.

Can you say Bye Bye, Backstreet? And then the death knell could begin ringing again for teen pop, a genre that couldn't even buy airplay during the early-to-mid-'90s thanks to a predominance of grunge rock (Nirvana, Pearl Jam) and gangsta rap (Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre). Either way, a larger question lingers: Is this pop music trend any different than the ones we've seen before? No one seems to know exactly why teen bands have hit again. Allison Stewart, senior editor for CDNow, the online music store that also supplies music news and reviews, speculates that it's a matter of teen economics. "You're seeing a generation of teen-agers with disposable income. There's more of them, and they have more money to play with than past generations.

With the release of their new CD "No Strings Attached," the members of 'N Sync have proved that they aren't going "Bye, Bye, Bye."

The guys - Lance Bass, Joey Fatone Jr., J.C. Chasez, Chris Kirkpatrick and Justin Timberlake - launched a career in 1998 with a self-titled debut album that has sold 10 million copies. But an ugly battle developed between the group and Trans Continental Management founder Lou Pearlman, who handed 'N Sync a recording contract with RCA Records in 1997 and turned them into a worldwide sensation. The group felt it was not getting a fair share of the profits, so they tried to join Jive Records, which has rival band Backstreet Boys and teen queen Britney Spears.

The group members, who range in age from 19 to 28, say that the move to Jive has given them more creative freedom, resulting in a new album that features an edgier, hip-hop flavored and dance-oriented sound than the first. But stabs at bubblegum ballads remain, courtesy of hitmakers Richard Marx, Diane Warren and Babyface.

Maybe "No Strings Attached" will give 'N Sync credibility, but it definitely gives them a broad fan base. For the 52-date North American concert tour, they sold an unprecedented 1 million tickets that grossed in the $40 million range during the first on-sale day.

While Spears repeatedly lip-synced to the beat of her hit Oops I Did It Again, and the Barrie, Ont.-born 'N Sync boys grooved to their Bye, Bye, Bye, zealous security guards kept the scene under control.

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