No Strings Attached ('N Sync Album) - Context and Background

Context and Background

The title of the album alludes to puppets and the idea of independence 'N Sync earned following a legal battle between its then management. 'N Sync was signed by Trans Continental Management to Bertelsmann Music Group (BMG) in Germany, due to a pre-existing deal, and its distribution rights in the United States were automatically bought by RCA. In 1999, 'N Sync sued Trans Continental and financier, Louis J. Pearlman, due to illicit corporate practices. They cited Pearlman's defrauding the group, which, according to MTV, was more than fifty percent of their earnings, rather than his promise of only receiving one-sixth of the profits. The band, whose self-titled debut album and its quick follow up had commercial success, insisted "they have not seen enough of the profits" that they had generated by selling eight million albums in the United States alone. On October 12, 1999, Trans Continental, along with RCA's parent, BMG Entertainment, filed a $150 million suit in a federal court to bar 'N Sync's transference to Jive and from performing or recording under their current name. The suit also forced 'N Sync to return masters recorded in 1999 in preparation of their second album. With an undisclosed settlement in 2001, 'N Sync finally severed its contract with Trans Continental and switched labels from RCA Records to Jive Records, which releases its contemporaries such as the Backstreet Boys and pop sensation Britney Spears.

The titling of the album is similar to the Backstreet Boys' who also had legal wrangling with Pearlman which concluded to a settlement in October 1998 that was not disclosed. The Backstreet Boys "took a shot" at Pearlman by titling their 2000 album Black & Blue. Meanwhile, the title No Strings Attached was announced in September 1999, during when the legal battle was still ongoing. 'N Sync's member, Chris Kirkpatrick, revealed that the title and the album's cover art have a personal meaning to them. According to him, the album was designed to show that they felt they were puppets stranded in strings, which alludes to their destiny being controlled. In an interview, he further explained the relationship of the strings to the album:

We enjoyed working on this album with the producers, and the only reasons that the strings are still attached on the album is so people can get the whole feel of the vibe of, you know, No Strings Attached. That's what we mean by the strings, so they'll understand that we're not puppets.

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