2002 was an unusual year. Both of the big American boy bands, the Backstreet Boys and *NSYNC, decided to part ways. Or "take a break", whatever. Either way, their best known members went on to make attempts at solo careers. Justin Timberlake and Nick Carter released their solo albums on the same label (Jive Records) within a month of each other. We all know what happened to Justin: Neptunes, Timbaland, superstardom, and exposing Janet Jackson's boob. Nick's solo career was far less successful, which is probably why BSB got back together while several other *NSYNC members are still hanging onto the slim chance that Justin deigns to have a reunion.
I think Nick's album, Now or Never, was underrated. It's not a masterpiece by any means, but it was bashed by many sources when it was a decent pop-rock album with some unique elements (such as a guest appearance by dancehall star Mr. Vegas.) It was also the beginning of Max Martin's new, more rock-influenced sound, which he would later perfect with Kelly Clarkson. The catchy melodies of his former teen pop sound were combined with loud, harder guitars as opposed/in addition to the synthesized beats. He did three tracks on the album; maybe if there were more, it could've done better. Who knows?
I Got You - Third and final single off the CD, only released overseas. It's not as rocky as the other tracks, it's slightly more ballad-y, but it's more of a driving rock ballad along the lines of Bryan Adams (whom Nick was clearly influenced by in his solo endeavors) as opposed to the pure teen ballads of earlier. Blow Your Mind - "Since U Been Gone" prototype. Not quite as good, but it's an early example. It has the blow out rock chorus customary of the Max Martin songs today. I Just Wanna Take You Home - Slightly slower, but still upbeat. Would probably be the "Behind These Hazel Eyes" to "Blow Your Mind"'s SUBG.
OK, things will be finished up soon. Max Martin did pretty much nothing in 2003 to speak of, so i'm going to skip right to '04 and '05, with Kelly and her direct descendants, including The Veronicas, Marion Raven, and Bo Bice.