Perhaps the only music group ever to be simultaneously (and bizarrely) marketed to both teenage girls and gay men, Take That became the UK's
best-selling band since The Beatles
. Take That were the first band since the Beatles to score four consecutive number one singles with "Pray," "Relight My Fire," "Babe," and "Everything Changes" as well as the first act to release eight singles entering the UK chart at Number 1.
Conceptualized to be the UK's answer to the highly successful American boy band, The New Kids on The Block, Take That far surpassed that band's commercial success and managed to jump a few dance steps ahead of them in the creative arena. Led by chief songwriter Gary Barlow, Take That's brand of shameless dance pop was brought to the masses. In the beginning, it was all fun and games. But when audience and media attention started to focus on brit-pop acts like Oasis and Blur, Barlow drastically changed the course of the music with the introspective (and only American hit) "Back for Good" and the downbeat "Babe." This "Ultimate" collection also includes a new track, the adult contemporary "Today I've Lost You" featuring all members of the group, sans Robbie Williams.
Let's not candy coat here. Although their music will not withstand the test of time (as disposable pop seldom does), Take That do indeed have cultural significance. Their success is soley responsible for reigniting the late Nineties boy band craze that launched the careers of the Backstreet Boys, 5ive, N'SYNC, Westlife and Boyzone. And let's not forget the gargantuan career of Robbie Williams.
On N'SYNC's eponymous debut, the group sounded like a poor man's Take That. Silly dance songs like "Tearin' Up My Heart" and "I Want You Back" sounded like carbon copies of Take That's hits. It wasn't until their second album No Strings Attached with the pounding chorus of hits like"Bye, Bye, Bye" and "It's Gonna Be Me," that the band musically stood out from of the myriad boy bands invading American radio. The production was meticulous, the choruses were powerful and the dreaded dance pop sound was dropped.
By the time they released Celebrity, the boys of N'SYNC developed a self-awareness not often found in boy bands. The infectious sounds of songs like "Pop" took the band into new territory, poking a bit of fun at their image, but also crafting far better songs than the band had recorded before. Collaborating with Nelly on the R&B-fused "Girlfriend," N'SYNC showed maturity that the group hadn't previously demonstrated.
Later tracks had legitimate soul and foreshadowed that the band might actually having staying power. However, N'SYNC broke up in 2002 at the height of their popularity and now we are left with a greatest hits album that actually has some great songs.