Brian Littrell and his wife Leighanne celebrated their 18th wedding anniversary over the weekend, and the Backstreet Boys singer couldn’t help but use the opportunity to poke fun at his group’s former rivals.
The 43-year-old star shared a photo of him and his wife on Monday, writing a sweet message about their romance in the caption. But in the photo, which showed the couple posing at dinner with their desserts, there was some subtle shade thrown ‘NSYNC‘s way.
It came in the form of a simple message written in syrup on Littrell’s plate: “‘NSYNC SUCKS.” It’s unclear if the note was Littrell’s doing — or the waiter’s.
If any of Littrell’s followers grew up as a teenager in the late ’90s or early 2000s, that phrase likely struck a chord. After all, one was either a Backstreet Boys fan or an ‘NSYNC fan — never both.
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Sure, most pop music lovers had no problem singing and dancing along to the hits from both boy bands. “I Want It That Way” is arguably one of the catchiest pop songs of all time, after all. And “Bye Bye Bye” kicked off the new millennia with a breakup anthem and iconic dance move that ran through the veins of every love-struck teen hurt by their latest crush.
But rarely did the deep, ride-or-die love for both boy bands cross over in the fandom.
The bands themselves had tension all their own, behind the scenes.
Two years after forming the Backstreet Boys in 1993, label CEO Lou Pearlman created their competition in ‘NSYNC — effectively pitting the two against one another for his affection. “It was almost like a betrayal,” Backstreet Boys member Kevin Richardson said in the 2015 documentary, Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of, of Pearlman’s move.
It wouldn’t stop either from having chart-topping success or selling millions of records. If anything, the feud rumors helped — fueling fans to buy more records and merchandise to prove their band-of-choice’s superiority.
That’s all faded now.
‘NSYNC has disbanded, with Justin Timberlake going on to solo superstardom and his bandmates Lance Bass, Joey Fatone, JC Chasez, and Chris Kirkpatrick all going off to pursue solo projects and side gigs. Meanwhile the Backstreet Boys — Richardson, Littrell, AJ McLean, Nick Carter and Howie Dorough — have continued to record and tour, most recently performing their latest single on the 2018 MTV Video Music Awards.
“I love those guys,” Bass told PEOPLE Now of the Backstreet Boys back in March 2017, after joining the group on stage at their Las Vegas show.
“I’ve become really good friends with some of the guys, you know, after we stopped making music,” Bass added, joking, “We were allowed to talk after that, I guess.”