Justin Timberlake is inarguably a superstar in his own right and has separated his own career from his beginnings in *NSYNC with plenty of hits, from debut single “Like I Love You” to his most recent single, “Filthy.” Yet, somehow, every time he’s set to deliver a major performance -- like his highly anticipated Super Bowl LII halftime show happening Feb. 4 -- there’s immediate speculation that it means an *NSYNC reunion.
Of course, no *NSYNC fan would ever scoff at the thought, as a reuniting of Timberlake with former bandmates Lance Bass, Joey Fatone, JC Chasez and Chris Kirkpatrick is always something any lover of “Bye Bye Bye” hopes for. But as the Super Bowl gets closer, the realities of another reunion are getting slimmer, especially with Joey Fatone’s recent shut-down of any sort of *NSYNC appearance.
"If I was doing something, I’d be at rehearsals right now,” Fatone recently told TMZ. "So obviously, there's your proof.”
Fatone himself as been focusing on non-musical ventures in recent years, making various TV and movie appearances including co-hosting Impractical Jokers and reprising his 2002 My Big Fat Greek Wedding role of Angelo in the 2016 sequel. He’s also opened his own chain of hot dog franchises, naturally named Fat Ones, so music isn’t necessarily on his mind.
NSYNC style throwback
NSYNC style throwback
The boys pose up high in London, matching in blues and greens.
We're not sure what's more jolting, Lace and Justin's semi-matching pants or Joey's plaid suit with a leopard print jacket...
Our eyes! Back in the late '90s, we thought we were blinded by their cuteness, but turns out it might've been those shiny jackets.
Baby-faced Brit poses with the boys, and we love it!
Look at those sultry stares! Did they realize they were staring straight into our souls?
Sometimes things got a little weird (sweet cornrows, JT).
Not ashamed to say we got one of those marionettes for Christmas.
As if we needed another reason to love them! Add puppies to the mix and the fact that they care about animals, and we're beyond in love.
Remember when this happened?
And that one time Joey played with a tiger cub?
Chris knew Kris Jenner back when Getty only referred to her as Kathy Lee Gifford's "friend."
Welp, it was the Grammys. But guys... seriously?
There's JT, getting all sultry on us.
This one time, JC wore a two-tone snakeskin jacket. It's okay though, we still loved him.
And Lance clearly had a great time channeling his inner 5 year-old at the Challenge for Children charity event they group held.
Hello, glamour shot! Loving the denim theme (background/floor included).
Time to sit for a slow song... a.k.a. melt every girl's heart.
Cue the creepiness: here they stand with their wax figures at Madame Tussaud's in New York. We must say JC and Lance's figures are right on.
Cleaning up in all black, the guys look pretty great. Except, JC PLEASE cut your hair!
Phew, that's better! They're a little squinty, but they look casual-cool.
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Bass is in the same boat, with television hosting responsibilities of his own and serving as an ambassador for The Vanderpump Dog Foundation and Environmental Media Association. And, Chasez and Kirkpatrick have seemingly stepped even further out of the entertainment world, making sporadic TV appearances (Kirkpatrick reunited with Fatone for the epic boy band sci-fi Dead 7 in 2016) but otherwise staying out of the spotlight.
Then again, the rest of *NSYNC’s lack of music involvement didn’t stop them from joining forces for their epic (and to date, only) reunion performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards during Timberlake’s Video Vanguard medley. And much like the circumstances surrounding this year’s Super Bowl, Timberlake’s VMA performance was preceded by speculation that it would include an *NSYNC reunion, especially after Fatone’s father spilled the beans that Joey had asked for advice on which songs to perform.
Similarly to Fatone’s denial this year, the year prior to the 2013 VMAs, Chasez had told The Hollywood Reporter a reunion wasn’t “in the cards.” He sounded a little more promising upon JT’s Super Bowl announcement in October, telling Us Weekly in November “I always keep an open mind” when it comes to *NSYNC reunions, but quickly followed himself up by saying “the answer is no,” just about a month before Fatone firmly shut rumors down himself last month.
"Whatever we do together, we have to do it because we are inspired to do it. It’s authentic,” he added. "The MTV performance when we showed love to Justin for his award... it was for the right reason. When your friend is being honored and you’re a part of their lives and this was a big part of his life, we wanted to share that and we wanted to support him in that moment.”
While the *NSYNC guys always entertain the question, it seems they almost enjoy shutting down any true possibility of another magical moment between the band members. And without another *NSYNC dad chiming in this year with just days left until Timberlake’s Super Bowl halftime show, Fatone’s comment doesn’t seem as sneaky as fans may hope.
But wait — there is one report from The Metro that Fatone is billed as a celebrity guest at the annual Leather and Laces Super Bowl party on Friday, Feb. 2 ahead of the big game. He is not currently scheduled for any other Super Bowl-related appearances, so a halftime show surprise would certainly be another driving factor for Fatone to make the trip to Minneapolis. With no official confirmation about the Leather and Laces appearance nor word of any other *NSYNC member being in Minnesota for Super Bowl weekend, though, that could be a false alarm.
Even if another *NSYNC Super Bowl appearance (which would be their first since playing with Aerosmith in 2001) really isn’t happening, all hope for a reunion is not completely lost in 2018. March 24 marks the 20th anniversary of the U.S. release of the band’s self-titled debut album, and Bass has already confidently confirmed that the group will be reuniting for the special occasion -- doing something that makes it extra special.
Justin Timberlake through the years
Justin Timberlake through the years
Justin Timberlake during N'Sync London show case 1997 at L'Equipe Anglaise in London in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Fred Duval/FilmMagic)
Justin Timberlake (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
LOS ANGELES - JANUARY 11: Singer Justin Timberlake of NSYNC attends the 26th Annual American Music Awards on January 11, 1999 at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
LOS ANGELES - AUGUST 1999: Justin Timberlake from pop group *NSYNC, poses for an August 1999 portrait in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Bob Berg/Getty Images)
NETHERLANDS - CIRCA 2000: Photo of Justin TIMBERLAKE and N' SYNC; Justin Timberlake posed in The Netherlands circa 2000. (Photo by Michel Linssen/Redferns)
Justin Timberlake during *NSYNC Visits Disney World - Candids and On Stage at Disney World in Orlando, Florida, United States. (Photo by James Devaney/WireImage)
Justin Timberlake (Photo by Jim Smeal/WireImage)
07/25/00 New York City 'NSYNC' unveils their new look-alike marionette dolls at FAO Schwarz toy store. Justin Timberlake with his doll. Photo by Evan Agostini/ImageDirect
NEW YORK CITY - JULY 31: Singers Justin Timberlake, Joey Fatone and Lance Bass of NSYNC attend the 'Coyote Ugly' New York City Premiere on July 31, 2000 at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Justin Timberlake (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 20: Singer Justin Timberlake of NSYNC attends the 43rd Annual Grammy Awards Pre-Party Hosted by Clive Davis on February 20, 2001 at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./WireImage)
Justin Timberlake (left) and Chris Kirkpatrick of 'NSYNC on the 'mtv ICON: Janet Jackson' show taping at Sony Pictures Studios in Los Angeles, CA., March 10, 2001. (FrankMicelotta/ImageDirect)
(EXCLUSIVE, Premium Rates Apply) Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
Justin Timberlake during The 7th Annual Blockbuster Entertainment Awards - Arrivals at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake (Photo by KMazur/WireImage)
Lance Bass & Justin Timberlake during Top stars join *NSYNC for the 3rd annual Challenge for the Children basketball charity event, featuring celebrity team challenges and half-time performances. All proceeds go to children's programs and charities. in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States. (Photo by KMazur/WireImage)
Justin Timberlake at the The Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center in New York City, New York (Photo by Kevin Kane/WireImage)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 06: Britney Spears and boyfriend, 'N Sync's Justin Timberlake, arrive at Centro-Fly for a party marking the release of her new album, 'Britney.' (Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
Justin Timberlake arriving at the 2001 Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
(NO TABLOIDS) Justin Timberlake & Britney Spears during Super Bowl XXXVI - Britney Spears & Justin Timberlake Host Super Bowl Fundraiser at Planet Hollywood Times Square at the Planet Hollywood Times Square in New York City, NY. (Photo by Denise Trusc
Justin Timberlake during NBA Hoop It Up Celebrity Tournament at First Union Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc)
Justin Timberlake of 'N Sync and Busta Rhymes during The 44th Annual GRAMMY Awards - Clive Davis Pre-GRAMMY Party at Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, United States. (Photo by L. Cohen/WireImage)
Justin Timberlake, Lisa 'Left Eye' Lopes and Chris Kirkpatrick, photographed during Nsync 'No String Attached' album release party in New York. Lopes was killed in a car crash in the Honduras April 25, 2002. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
Justin Timberlake and Nelly during *NSYNC Challenge for the Children IV - Celebrity Basketball Game at TD Waterhouse Centre in Orlando, Florida, United States. ***Exclusive*** (Photo by James Devaney/WireImage)
Justin Timberlake during The 2002 Teen Choice Awards - Arrivals at The Universal Amphitheatre in Universal City, California, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
Justin Timberlake of NYSNC with mom in the audience attending the 2002 MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, August 29, 2002. Photo by Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect.
HOLLYWOOD - SEPTEMBER 18: *NSYNC singer Justin Timberlake attends the 3rd Annual Latin Grammy Awards at the Kodak Theatre on September 18, 2002 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Robert Mora/Getty Images)
Justin Timberlake on 44th street in Times Square on MTV's Spankin New Music Week on TRL in New York City, November 5, 2002. Photo by Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect
Justin Timberlake during 2002 Billboard Music Awards - Arrivals at MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States. (Photo by L. Cohen/WireImage)
Justin Timberlake at the Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
Host Sharon Osbourne, Justin Timberlake and her dog Minnie present the Pop/Rock Favorite Band, Duo or Group at the 30th Annual American Music Awards (Photo by M. Caulfield/WireImage)
Sean 'P. Diddy' Combs and Justin Timberlake (Photo by Larry Busacca/WireImage)
Justin Timberlake during Nickelodeon's 16th Annual Kids' Choice Awards 2003 - Arrivals at Barker Hanger in Santa Monica, California, United States. (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
DUBLIN, IRELAND - MAY 22: Singer Justin Timberlake performs at The Point Theatre May 22, 2003 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Getty Images)
Leno questions an embarrassed Timberlake about rumors that he's dating actress Cameron Diaz (Photo by Paul Drinkwater/WireImage)
Justin Timberlake during Molson Canadian Rocks for Toronto - Press Room at Downsview Park in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage)
Eva Mendes Presents Showman of the Year to Justin Timberlake (Photo by KMazur/WireImage)
Justin Timberlake during Justin Timberlake and Mandy Moore Visit MTV's 'TRL' - October 21, 2003 at MTV Studios, Times Square in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage)
HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 1: Justin Timberlake (right) and Janet Jackson perform during the halftime show at Super Bowl XXXVIII between the New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers at Reliant Stadium on February 1, 2004 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES - FEBRUARY 8: Singer Justin Timberlake poses with his Grammys poses backstage in the Pressroom at the 46th Annual Grammy Awards held on February 8, 2004 at the Staples Center, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
SUNRISE, FL - JULY 25: Justin Timberlake at NSYNC Challenge For The Children Celebrity Basketball Game at Office Depot Center in Sunrise, Florida on July 25, 2004. (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images)
Justin Timberlake, presenter during 20th Annual Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony - Show at Waldorf Astoria in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)
Morgan Freeman and Justin Timberlake during 2005 Toronto Film Festival - 'Edison' Press Conference at Sutton Place in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by George Pimentel/WireImage)
Justin Timberlake during Justin Timberlake and Ludacris Visit MTV's 'TRL' - November 2, 2005 at MTV Studios - Times Square in New York City, New York. (Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage)
PARK CITY - JANUARY 26: Actor Emile Hirsch and singer Justin Timberlake appear on AOL Unscripted at the Meyer Gallery during the Sundance Film Festival January 24, 2006 in Park City, Utah. Their film, 'Alpha Dog' premiered at the Sundance Film Festival 2006. (Photo by Matthew Peyton/Getty Images)
Justin Timberlake at the Sony Pictures in Culver City, California (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
Justin Timberlake during 2006 MTV Video Music Awards - Arrivals at Radio City Music Hall in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)
Justin Timberlake (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
Hollywood, UNITED STATES: Singer Justin Timberlake performs during the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show in Hollywood, 16 November 2006. AFP PHOTO GABRIEL BOUYS (Photo credit should read GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images)
Justin Timberlake during 64th Annual Golden Globe Awards - Arrivals at Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, CA, United States. (Photo by SGranitz/WireImage)
Los Angeles, UNITED STATES: Singer Justin Timberlake and 'My GRAMMY Moment' winner Robyn Troup perform during the 49th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles 11 February 2007. AFP PHOTO/Robyn BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Justin Timberlake, host (Photo by Chris Polk/FilmMagic)
Justin Timberlake and Cameron Diaz (Photo by Jon Furniss/WireImage)
NETHERLANDS - JUNE 16: Photo of Justin TIMBERLAKE; performing live onstage (Photo by Rob Verhorst/Redferns)
ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - DECEMBER 06: Justin Timberlake performs on stage at the closing night of his FutureSex/LoveShow World Tour in the grounds of Emirates Palace Hotel on December 6, 2007 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images)
SANTA MONICA, CA - JUNE 08: Actor/singer Justin Timberlake presents the Lucille Ball Legacy of Laughter Award onstage during the 6th annual 'TV Land Awards' held at Barker Hangar on June 8, 2008 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for TV Land)
(EXCLUSIVE, Premium Rates Apply) NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 13: *Exclusive* (NO ITALY SALES) Justin Timberlake performs inside Keep A Child Alive's 5th annual Black Ball at Hammerstein Ballroom on November 13, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
Singer Justin Timberlake poses in the press room at the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards held at the Nokia Theatre on September 20, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
NEW YORK - MAY 03: Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake attends the Costume Institute Gala Benefit to celebrate the opening of the 'American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity' exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 3, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 3897 -- Pictured: Actor/musician Justin Timberlake during an interview on September 20, 2010 -- Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 27: (EXCLUSIVE ACCESS SPECIAL RATES APPLY; NO NORTH AMERICAN ON-AIR BROADCAST UNTIL MARCH 3, 2011) Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake attend the 2011 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted by Graydon Carter at the Sunset Tower Hotel on February 27, 2011 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/VF11/WireImage)
WESTWOOD, CA - OCTOBER 20: Actor/Singer Justin Timberlake arrives at the Premiere of Regency Enterprises' 'In Time' at the Regency Village Theater on October 20, 2011 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 07: Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake attend the 'Schiaparelli And Prada: Impossible Conversations' Costume Institute Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 7, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 02: Justin Timberlake performs at DIRECTV Super Saturday Night Featuring Special Guest Justin Timberlake & Co-Hosted By Mark Cuban's AXS TV on February 2, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for DirecTV)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 10: Singer Justin Timberlake attends the 55th Annual GRAMMY Awards at STAPLES Center on February 10, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 20: Justin Timberlake performs on stage during the Brit Awards 2013 at the 02 Arena on February 20, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Matt Kent/Getty Images)
CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 19: Actor Justin Timberlake attends the 'Inside Llewyn Davis' photocall during the 66th Annual Cannes Film Festival at the Palais des Festivals on May 19, 2013 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
US actor and singer Justin Timberlake smiles on May 20, 2013 as he takes part in the show 'Le Grand Journal' on the set of the French TV Canal+, on the sidelines the 66th Cannes film festival in Cannes. Cannes, one of the world's top film festivals, opened on May 15 and will climax on May 26 with awards selected by a jury headed this year by Hollywood legend Steven Spielberg. AFP PHOTO / LOIC VENANCE (Photo credit should read LOIC VENANCE/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 25: Musician Justin Timberlake performs onstage during the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards at the Barclays Center on August 25, 2013 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images for MTV)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - SEPTEMBER 15: Justin Timberlake performs on stage during a concert in the Rock in Rio Festival on September 15, 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Recording artist Justin Timberlake, winner of Favorite Male Artist - Pop/Rock, Favorite Male Artist - Soul/R&B, and Favorite Album - Soul/R&B for 'The 20/20 Experience,' poses in the press room at the 2013 American Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on November 24, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/WireImage)
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 01: Justin Timberlake performs on his 20/20 Experience World Tour at The O2 Arena on April 1, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Dave J Hogan/Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON -- Episode 0325 -- Pictured: (l-r) Singer Justin Timberlake during an interview with host Jimmy Fallon on September 9, 2015 -- (Photo by: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - OCTOBER 23: Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake arrives at the 2015 GLSEN Respect Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on October 23, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Steve Granitz/WireImage)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - FEBRUARY 28: Recording artist Justin Timberlake attends the 2016 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Graydon Carter at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts on February 28, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - APRIL 03: Recording artists Justin Timberlake (L) and Taylor Swift attends the iHeartRadio Music Awards which broadcasted live on TBS, TNT, AND TRUTV from The Forum on April 3, 2016 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for iHeartRadio / Turner)
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“We’re getting our star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame in March,” he tells Billboard. "So we’re all five gonna be together, we’re gonna do the star ceremony, and then, of course, we’re gonna have to throw a party to celebrate.
Bass didn’t make any mention of a performance possibility, but *NSYNC will be releasing limited edition, ‘90s-style merchandise for fans to also take part in celebrating the anniversary. Whether there’s a performance involved in the celebrations as well is something that fans will have to wait to find out (but will surely speculate) until March, and whether they’ll ever perform together again period seems as unlikely as it always does. But one thing Bass told Billboard does offer a little promise that, at the very least, the relationship that *NSYNC built in their glory days is still very much alive.
“We have a group text that we just always do stupid things on,” he says. "We pretty much talk daily, all five of us.”