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NSYNC is back on the Billboard Hot 100 with its first new song in 2 decades

From left, Joey Fatone, Lance Bass, Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, and Chris Kirkpatrick of *NSYNC speak onstage the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards at Prudential Center in September.
Theo Wargo
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Getty Images for MTV
From left, Joey Fatone, Lance Bass, Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, and Chris Kirkpatrick of *NSYNC speak onstage the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards at Prudential Center in September.

NSYNC's first song together in more than 20 years has landed them in — as it's fittingly titled — a "Better Place": back on the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time since their boy-band heyday.

It's the group's first single and chart appearance since 2002's "Girlfriend" featuring Nelly (and their 13th Hot 100 hit overall).

At that point, George W. Bush was president, A Beautiful Mind had just won best picture and the release of the first iPhone was still half a decade away.

NSYNC went on hiatus in 2002 and eventually disbanded. They've reunited for occasional appearances in the years since, including performing at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, receiving a Hollywood Walk of Fame star in 2018 and presenting an award to Taylor Swift at the VMAs last month.

Each gathering further fueled fans' hopes and theories that the group would get back together and make music again. Now it has.

"Better Place" will be on the soundtrack for the upcoming animated movie Trolls Band Together. The kids' film franchise stars NSYNC alum Justin Timberlake, and this particular installment is about reuniting a former boy band.

Timberlake described the song as "a love letter to our fans" in an Instagram video ahead of its release.

"So many stars aligned and that's why I hit y'all and was like, 'Hey, something came up,' " Timberlake told his former bandmates in the video, which also included behind-the-scenes footage from the studio and snippets of the upbeat song.

"Better Place" came out at the end of September and debuted in the No. 25 spot on this week's Hot 100, according to Billboard. That's a tie for NSYNC's highest chart start: Its debut hit "I Want You Back" began in the same (not better) place in March 1998.

"Thank you for streaming, sharing, and supporting," NSYNC said on Instagram earlier this week. "It was an honor to get back behind the mic for you."

*NSYNC performs during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City.
Tim de Waele / Getty Images
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Getty Images
*NSYNC performs during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City.

Fans are very much hoping the band will stay there: They've been tweeting and flooding its Instagram commentswith pleas for a reunion tour. NSYNC hasn't announced any plans for one, but some members have hinted that it's not out of the question.

"If the fans want it that much, yell at the companies, yell at Sony, yell at RCA, yell at them to say that they need an NSYNC album," Joey Fatone said last month at '90s Con.

Hundreds of people already have signed a lengthy petition urging Sony Music and RCA to "Bring Back NSYNC: They're All We've Ever Wanted!"

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rachel Treisman
Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.
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