NSYNC - It’s Gonna Be Me (dir. Wayne Isham)
August 21, 2000
• Every music video starts as a pitch. Whether it’s an elaborate 15 page pdf or a simple idea explained over a conference call, a director’s job often boils down to their ability to explain their ideas. After a few years of doing this myself, I feel qualified to offer this one piece of pitching advice: Bands hate reading. Also, band managers hate reading, label A&R guys hate reading, record label executives hate reading, and basically anyone who holds sway in the music video process loathes reading. If your vision for a video can only be explained with a 30-page tome that looks like an excerpt from a PhD dissertation, it’s going to collect dust on the floor of a tour bus for weeks, eventually becoming a place for the drummer to rest his microwaved burrito while playing Call of Duty.
This is why the most effective music video pitches usually consist of two elements: 1) They convey the general idea in one sentence, and 2) They reference something cool that already exists. When Wayne Isham pitched his concept for NSYNC’s It’s Gonna Be Me, he probably mailed a piece of paper with the words, NSYNC AS TOYS typed in 60 point font, accompanied by a VHS tape of this award-winning 1996 Nissan commercial featuring toys that come to life. Sold.
• It’s Gonna Be Me is actually a sort-of-sequel to the band’s previous hit, Bye Bye Bye (dir. Wayne Isham), which featured the group as oversized puppets on the run from a beautiful model. The unifying element of both videos is the model, Kim Smith, who also appeared as a femme fatale in Maroon 5’s 2007 video for Wake Up Call (dir Jonas Akerlund) and Aerosmith’s Girls Of Summer (dir. Dave Meyers). She made her feature debut in 2002’s Van Wilder, which I assume was something of a step down from the level of acting required for It’s Gonna Be Me.
• Every boy band video attempts to solve the following puzzle: How do you visualize a song that’s written from 1st-person perspective, but performed by 5 people?
In Drive Myself Crazy (dir. Tim Story), NYSNC tried to solve the puzzle by telling 5 variations of the same break-up story. In (God Must Have Spent) A Little More Time On You (dir. Lionel C. Martin), the video dodges the issue by shifting the perspective of the song to make it seem like a mother’s loving tribute to her son. In It’s Gonna Be Me, Isham gets innovative, and tells a story in which the band’s 5 individual members function as a single entity. Like an ant colony, the guys operate as a cohesive unit, working towards the same goals, sharing the same emotional responses, and vying for Kim Smith’s attention without a hint of competition. The band’s performance even looks like it takes place in a glowing insect hive, which is probably where Kim will serve as the colony’s queen until a bratty pre-schooler burns them all with a magnifying glass.
• On a technical level, It’s Gonna Be Me is a classic example of TRL’s money-is-no-object approach to filmmaking. Enormous, 3-story toy shelf sets were constructed on soundstages, a team of prosthetic makeup artists were employed to make the band look like 20-something versions of Max Headroom, and at 2:23, the band even knocks over a giant domino structure- for a shot that lasts less than 3 seconds- just because they can. To put this in perspective, last week, a record label refused to approve an overage request I made for 10 more extras, roughly half the cost of one oversized domino prop. Oh, to know the sweet excess of an early 00’s budget.
10) Deftones “Change (In The House of Flies)”
09) Nelly “Country Grammar”
08) Korn “Somebody Someone”
07) Papa Roach “Last Resort”
06) Christina Aguilera “Come On Over Baby”
05) P.O.D. “Rock The Party”
04) Britney Spears “Lucky”
03) Eminem “The Way I Am”
02) Hanson “If Only”
01) NSYNC “It’s Gonna Be Me”