Boy bands have at all times recognized their means round a very good double entendre (see Backstreet Boys’ “Get Down” or O-Town’s “Liquid Dreams”) however when ‘NSync launched their sophomore album, No Strings Attached, in March of 2000, one track stood out for seemingly bucking the subtlety development.
Tucked away in the center of the album, simply after milquetoast Richard Marx ballad “This I Promise You” and the defiant — if barely generic — title observe, the slick and skittering “Digital Get Down” was like an eruption of hormones and harmonies all of sudden, with three and a half minutes of huge beats and grown-up innuendo.
Co-written by the group’s JC Chasez, the futuristic, synth-driven observe was a marked departure for the boy band, whereas its suggestive lyrics whipped critics and followers right into a frenzy. Were the guys in ‘NSync actually singing about the joys of cybersex?
“I lose my mind just when you’re speaking, I see you on the screen, I get to freaking,” Chasez crooned over a pulsating beat and a liberal dose of pre–T-Pain autotune. If listeners nonetheless weren’t clear about what the track was about, the refrain left little to the creativeness.
Digital, digital get down, simply you and me
(You could also be) Twenty thousand miles away, however I can see ya
And child, child, you may see me
Digital, digital get down, simply what we’d like
We can get collectively naturally
Or we are able to get collectively on the digital display screen
Critics instantly singled out the track for its “risqué lyrics,” with a TV Guide reviewer writing, “Do they think the braces brigade in ‘NSync’s audience will recognize the R-rated oomph?”
A New York Times review, in the meantime, described No Strings Attached as “the first boy-band album with a song about video cybersex — a clear indicator of post-pubescent consciousness.”
In 2000, when “direct messages” nonetheless meant speaking to somebody in a chat room or leaving a voicemail on their telephone, “Digital Get Down” helped to usher in a brand new means of utilizing expertise. Could our computer systems — and a strategically-placed webcam — assist ease the ache of lengthy distance?
The guys by no means elaborated on “Digital Get Down” in interviews selling the album (Justin Timberlake was requested about it as soon as and admitted that “[the lyrics] could be construed that way,” earlier than altering the topic), nevertheless it was clear that this was no common love track. At one level on the observe, Timberlake teases a mobile come-on:
Can we get related?
I want some love and affection child
I’ll name you on the telephone
I hope that I get by way of
If you’re in the temper and I’m not dwelling
Here’s what you do: depart a message
You know the type I like
Long earlier than individuals had been writing how-to books about sexting, Justin Timberlake was giving us a crash course in wi-fi foreplay.
“What’s funny is we joke that ‘NSync invented Skype and FaceTime, but that’s really true in a way,” says John Andosca, one of the hosts of “Digital Get Down,” a ‘NSync fan podcast impressed by the track. “Back in 2000, video calls weren’t even a thing — heck, most people didn’t really have cell phones yet, so the idea about being able to ‘get down’ with someone through a video screen as if they were right there, was like something out of a movie.”
It can be one other three years earlier than Skype was launched to market, and greater than a decade earlier than Google Hangouts turned a factor. But for all the ‘NSync trends best left in the 2000s — frosted tips, overly distressed denim, bad puns — finding new ways to connect with those you love is something we can thank the guys for. Long before we were asked to “socially distance” ourselves from one another, five teen heartthrobs were showing everyone how it’s executed.
“It’s 20 years later,” Andosca says, “and the same technology they talked about [for] ‘hooking up’ with someone far away is now keeping people connected.”