Shirley Halperin
October 30, 2007 AT 12:00 PM EDT

Let us bring you back to 1999, when Britney Spears could still claim innocence, Lou Pearlman was flying high amassing a fortune off the sweat of barely legals, and Backstreet Boys (sales leaders at the time, and moving millions) and ’N Sync were sworn mortal enemies. My, how things have changed in less than a decade: An incarcerated Pearlman is facing fraud charges, and Spears seems endlessly in and out of rehab, family court, and sometimes, it would appear, an actual recording studio. As for the former boy band rivals, they have actually come together. On BSB’s Unbreakable, out today, you’ll find “Treat Me Right,” the first ever Backstreet Boys track co-written by an ‘N Syncer.

So how did this historic moment come to be? “AJ [McLean] and I had coffee,” says JC Chasez. “It’s funny, we never got to spend any time together. We would see each other at parties or awards shows, but everybody always put us against each other. Then one day, we were like, ‘We should talk music. Let’s goof off and write a tune.'” McLean and Chasez went into a Los Angeles studio to tinker, then took the unfinished song back to the boys. “The next thing you know, we’re all at the studio and I’m working out the parts,” he continues. “It was totally bizarre to me because I had all these preconceived notions but never knew who sang what. So I’d be going, ‘Oh, you’re the high guy, he’s the low guy, now I get it.’ So that was weird, but at the same time, great. They’re amazing singers and really hard workers. I can’t say enough good things about them.”

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