98 Degrees Members Preview ‘Total Relief Live’ Benefit, Invite Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake to Join Lineup
Some of the biggest stars of ’90s pop will convene in Los Angeles for a benefit concert paying homage to MTV’s “Total Request Live” era this January, and organizer Nick Lachey is ready to “roll out the red carpet” for “TRL” icons Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake.
The 98 Degrees member is working with the group’s manager Johnny Wright, along with MTV, Live Nation and Spears’ former manager Larry Rudolph for the upcoming fundraiser, which will benefit hunger relief organization, Feeding America. Backstreet Boys member AJ McLean and *NSYNC’s Lance Bass are already signed on, while Lachey says further invites have “gone out to everyone.”
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“I’ve reached out to a lot of our friends from those days and everyone’s super-supportive and ready to be a part of it and rally for a good cause” Lachey told Variety backstage at the 2021 iHeartRadio Music Festival at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Friday. “Of course, we’ll ask Justin! When you’re talking about the biggest names of that era, you [think] Britney, Justin. We’d love to have either or both of them involved.”
“I think Britney’s got bigger stuff going on in her life,” Lachey added. “She’s newly-engaged and dealing with her conservatorship situation, but if she wanted to be a part of it, we’d be rolling out the red carpet. She was one of the iconic names of that era.”
“She’d have to un-retire first!” interjected bandmate Jeff Timmons, who recently hosted a “Free Britney Radio” pop-up station in support of Spears amid her conservatorship hearings.
Lachey hopes the evening will give fans a chance to celebrate nostalgia and music while helping Feeding America, a network of food banks which aids those in need through shelters, food pantries and soup kitchens.
“More than ever, we have to address the food insecurity in our country, so the chance to put this together in January and be a part of the night along with so many other acts from that era is something we’re looking forward to,” Lachey said.
Lachey, Timmons and bandmates Justin Jeffre and Drew Lachey gave fans a possible taste of what might be in store at the benefit gig during their Thursday night concert in Las Vegas as part of Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino’s Concerts on the Beach series. The show came as the Ohio natives wrapped up their 98 Days of Summer campaign, which featured the release of their “Summer of 98” remix EP.
“It didn’t matter if they were rock, pop, rap – we were all related by three letters: T-R-L. And, right now we want to do some of our favorite ‘TRL’ hits,” Drew Lachey said, introducing the “TRL”-themed set, which included Sugar Ray’s “Fly,” MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” and Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling.”
The group, who confirmed to Variety that they’re recording new music, also performed Backstreet Boys smash, “I Want It That Way,” channeled the Spice Girls during “Wannabe” and rocked out to Blink 182’s “All the Small Things.”
“You haven’t really made it until people make fun of you in their music videos,” Drew Lachey said, referring to the video for the 2000 track, in which pop-punk trio Blink-182 parody boy bands.
The guys also covered “…Baby One More Time” by Spears. Having known the singer for years, they’re thrilled for her recent engagement to Sam Asghari.
“This guy has been through thick and thin with her during the toughest part of her life, so he’s probably her soulmate and we just wish her the best,” Timmons said.
As for whether the musicians have any marriage advice for the singer, Timmons and Nick Lachey jokingly pointed out they’re onto their second marriages, while Drew Lachey — who’s approaching his 21st wedding anniversary with wife Lea — had a simple pearl of wisdom.
“The best advice for any married couple is don’t listen to other people’s advice,” he said. “Every relationship is different. Listen to your spouse and know when to talk and know when to shut up.”
“Time and attention – the best ingredient of all,” added Jeffre.
“That from the guy who’s not married!” laughed Timmons.
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