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The '90s-'00s are making a comeback. Nick Lachey and Dave Holmes explain why.

If you were a teen in 1999, the church bell rang each day at 3:30 p.m.

You would race to your living room, drop to your knees and find salvation in your daily dose of Britney Spears and the Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync and 98 Degrees, dreaming you, too, were a screaming tween in a studio overlooking Times Square. Your church was MTV's Total Request Live. And church was something you never, ever missed.

"People used to come home from school and plop down in front of the TV and religiously watch TRL," said Nick Lachey, the eternally hunky TRL idol and breakout star of 98 Degrees. "It was a moment in time that I think a lot of people have a lot of fond memories of. It's a fun trip to take down memory lane because it was a great time for a lot of people, bands included."

Evidently. Because in case you haven't been paying attention, the TRL era is back in a big way.

Here in 2016, we find ourselves awash in nostalgia for the decade stretching roughly from 1995 to 2005: O.J. Simpson, Independence Day, Pokémon Go, revivals of boy bands like 98 Degrees and O-Town, whose "MY2K Tour" hits Tampa on Friday. Lest we forget, it was 2004 when NBC first launched a little reality TV competition called The Apprentice, starring Donald Trump.

This decade isn't quite the '90s, and it isn't quite the aughts. Call it the Naughties: our final free days before the War on Terror and the dawn of social media, when it seemed we all could get away with anything.

"It just seemed like happier times," said Lachey, 42. "Music was in a happier place, the world seemed to be in a happier place. It's a fun era to go back and relive for a night."

•••

The Naughties craze fits right in with the long-held maxim that cultural nostalgia operates on a 20-year cycle.

"It seems like the nostalgia gene doesn't really manifest itself until your early 30s, and then you become crazy nostalgic for what happened when you were 13," said Dave Holmes, the ex-MTV personality who finished second to Jesse Camp on TRL's "Wanna Be a VJ" competition in 1998. "That's what's happening now. Millennials are hitting their early 30s, the world is literally on fire all around us, and we want to harken back to what we perceive as a more innocent time."

In some ways, it was. The terror of 9/11 changed that — "Leading up to that, it was almost a carefree kind of world," Lachey said — but so did the advent of a new digital universe. MySpace debuted in 2003, Facebook in 2004, Twitter in 2006, the iPhone in 2007. Can you even imagine life without them now?

"It was a time where when you wanted to interact to people, you had to do it face to face," said Holmes, author of the new Party of One: A Memoir in 21 Songs (Crown Archetype, $26). When he returned to New York for the book launch, "literally everybody was eyes down, swiping," he said. "There were moments when I looked around and it was like everybody, young and old, was in their own little world."

Especially in its early days, Total Request Live was one of the last safe places teens could go to engage with the day's pop culture live, in person, all at once.

"You could all sit in front of the same thing and experience it together," Holmes said.

And it takes time to put the importance of that experience into context. Take the O.J. Simpson trial, which arguably kick-started this decade of Naughties nostalgia. The "trial of the century" was the subject of the two best things on TV this year: the FX miniseries The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story and the ESPN documentary O.J.: Made in America. Both capitalized on nostalgia, sure, but also offered fresh, eye-opening takes on a ubiquitous cultural experience we all thought we knew.

"At the time of the O.J. trial, we all knew that it was significant," Holmes said. "We were all glued to it. But I don't know that we could necessarily verbalize why. You need a couple decades of distance to get the full picture."

•••

For Lachey, a boy band revival always seemed inevitable. 98 Degrees went on hiatus in 2003 but reformed in 2013 for a tour with New Kids on the Block and Boyz II Men.

"We've been very lucky and fortunate to have some really diehard, passionate fans who've stuck with us from the very, very early days," he said. "That was a big part of the reason that we felt good about getting back together."

It doesn't hurt that there's a surprisingly direct line between the pop music of that era and the pop music of today. Beyoncé, formerly of Destiny's Child, is one of the biggest stars on earth. So is Justin Timberlake, formerly of 'N Sync. Swedish pop maestro Max Martin co-wrote not only Britney Spears' Baby One More Time and the Backstreet Boys' I Want It That Way, but also Taylor Swift's Bad Blood and the Weeknd's Can't Feel My Face.

"Talent is talent," Lachey said. "If you're talented the way those guys are, you find a way to evolve and stay relevant."

At shows these days, Lachey mostly sees fans in their early 30s, who would have been teens or younger in the heyday of Total Request Live.

"A lot of them have grown up with us and now have their own families," he said. "You look out in the audience, and you see some familiar faces from years and years ago, and they're there with their own kids now. It's a very cool passing of the torch."

TRL may be long gone, the music industry in shambles. But for those who grew up worshipping their boy-band idols, the MY2K Tour might still feel a little like church.

"This is a time for people to go back and relive a time when it seemed a little lighter," Lachey said. "It seemed like there was a little less stress and a little less ugliness in the world. Whether that's true or not, maybe it's just my perception, but it sure felt like it. That's why people are excited to go back and revisit that moment in time."

Contact Jay Cridlin at cridlin@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8336. Follow @JayCridlin.

. if you go

The MY2K Tour

98 Degrees, O-Town, Dream and Ryan Cabrera perform at 8 p.m. Friday at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. Tickets start at $20, fees included. (813) 740-2446. livenation.com.

Naughty by nature

These are high times for nostalgia for the late '90s and early aughts, an era we're calling the "Naughties." Here are four examples of how the Naughties seem to be everywhere.

The O.J. trial

The big bang of the Naughties nostalgia boom might be the O.J. Simpson trial, which took place in 1994 and 1995. Arguably the two best television series of 2016 are creative retellings of that inescapable case: ESPN's meticulously laid-out documentary O.J.: Made in America and FX's magnificently acted scripted series The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. (Interestingly, the next installment of American Crime Story, coming in 2017, will focus on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. That disaster occurred in 2005, almost exactly a decade after the O.J. verdict, marking a convenient end point for the decade of Naughties nostalgia.)

Big package tours

Everywhere you look, artists with ties to the Naughties are going on tour together. Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs and other members of the Bad Boy Entertainment "Family" — Mase, Lil Kim, Faith Evans, 112 and more — are embarking on a reunion tour that hits Tampa's Amalie Arena on Sept. 11. Gwen Stefani and Eve (Let Me Blow Ya Mind, Rich Girl) will play Tampa on July 26, Ja Rule and Ashanti (Mesmerize, Always On Time) on Sept. 8. Rock bands, too, are getting in on the fun: This summer, Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre has hosted tours by Dashboard Confessional and Taking Back Sunday; Slipknot and Marilyn Manson; and Modest Mouse and Brand New. A show by Counting Crows and Rob Thomas comes July 23.

Teen pop

As 98 Degrees and O-Town hit the road together, their pop peers are popping up everywhere. Britney Spears opened this year's Billboard Music Awards. Justin Timberlake has one of the top songs of summer in Can't Stop the Feeling, and his old band 'N Sync was just awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Adele geeked out about the Spice Girls during a "Carpool Karaoke" segment with James Corden. And then there are the Backstreet Boys. Country stars Florida Georgia Line covered Everybody (Backstreet's Back) in concert, which led to a studio session with the Boys themselves. Meghan Trainor joined the group to sing I Want It That Way it on ABC's summer series Greatest Hits. Even My Morning Jacket's Jim James and Alabama Shakes' Brittany Howard covered I Want It That Way for a Chipotle ad that went viral this month.

Toys and tech

Last week you might've found your social feeds clogged with references to Pokémon Go, an augmented-reality update of the gotta-catch-'em-all craze from the late '90s. Furbys, too, are making a comeback, as Hasbro has announced plans for the "Furby Connect," which uses Bluetooth connectivity and an immersive virtual app. Even Napster is coming back around. The file-sharing service that squeezed life out of the music industry launched in 2000 and shut down not long thereafter, though it has since attempted several reboots. The latest came in June, as streaming service Rhapsody, which acquired Napster in 2011, announced it would be adopt the more nostalgic brand name later this year.

if you go

The MY2K Tour

98 Degrees,

O-Town, Dream and Ryan Cabrera perform at 8 p.m. Friday at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre, 4802 U.S. 301 N, Tampa. Tickets start at $20, fees included. (813) 740-2446. livenation.com.



Naughty by nature

These are high times for nostalgia for the late '90s and early aughts, an era we're calling the "Naughties." Here are four examples of how the Naughties seem to be everywhere.

The O.J. trial

The big bang of the Naughties nostalgia boom might be the O.J. Simpson trial, which took place in 1994 and 1995. Arguably the two best television series of 2016 are creative retellings of that inescapable case: ESPN's meticulously laid-out documentary O.J.: Made in America and FX's magnificently acted scripted series The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. (Interestingly, the next installment of American Crime Story, coming in 2017, will focus on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. That disaster occurred in 2005, almost exactly a decade after the O.J. verdict, marking a convenient end point for the decade of Naughties nostalgia.)

Big package tours

Everywhere you look, artists with ties to the Naughties are going on tour together. Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs and other members of the Bad Boy Entertainment "Family" — Mase, Lil Kim, Faith Evans, 112 and more — are embarking on a reunion tour that hits Tampa's Amalie Arena on Sept. 11. Gwen Stefani, left, and Eve (Let Me Blow Ya Mind, Rich Girl) will play Tampa on July 26, Ja Rule and Ashanti (Mesmerize, Always on Time) on Sept. 8. Rock bands, too, are getting in on the fun: This summer, Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre has hosted tours by Dashboard Confessional and Taking Back Sunday; Slipknot and Marilyn Manson; and Modest Mouse and Brand New. A show by Counting Crows and Rob Thomas comes July 23.

Teen pop

As 98 Degrees and O-Town hit the road together, their pop peers are popping up everywhere. Britney Spears opened this year's Billboard Music Awards. Justin Timberlake has one of the top songs of summer in Can't Stop the Feeling, and his old band 'N Sync was just awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Adele geeked out about the Spice Girls, right, during a "Carpool Karaoke" segment with James Corden. And then there are the Backstreet Boys. Country stars Florida Georgia Line covered Everybody (Backstreet's Back) in concert, which led to a studio session with the Boys themselves. Meghan Trainor joined the group to sing I Want It That Way on ABC's summer series Greatest Hits. Even My Morning Jacket's Jim James and Alabama Shakes' Brittany Howard covered I Want It That Way for a Chipotle ad that went viral this month.

Toys and tech

This week you might find your social feeds clogged with references to Pokémon Go, left, an update of the gotta-catch-'em-all craze from the late '90s. Furbys, too, are making a comeback, as Hasbro has announced plans for the "Furby Connect," which uses Bluetooth connectivity and an immersive virtual app. Even Napster is coming back. The file-sharing service that squeezed life out of the music industry launched in 2000 and shut down not long thereafter, though it has since attempted several reboots. The latest came in June, as streaming service Rhapsody, which acquired Napster in 2011, announced it would be adopt the more nostalgic brand name later this year.

The '90s-'00s are making a comeback. Nick Lachey and Dave Holmes explain why. 07/12/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 13, 2016 1:49pm]
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