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Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience


Josh Hurst
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Streaming right now on iTunes, for those who are interested. Say what you will about JT-- and let me be up-front in saying that I do not care for either of his two previous records-- but this new one is bolder, weirder, and more absorbing than, say, the new David Bowie album (to give a random example), and more ambitious than any pop album in recent memory. It feels like a totally out-there pop blockbuster, which is reason enough to check it out.

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I'll wait and see if the lyrics have any kind of substance before I pay money for it. But I'm guessing that concern about lyrics automatically brands me as Not JT's Audience.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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I'll wait and see if the lyrics have any kind of substance before I pay money for it. But I'm guessing that concern about lyrics automatically brands me as Not JT's Audience.

Well, I will save you some time and say that no, the lyrics do not have any real substance to them. It is a 70-minute celebration of love, romance, sex, and dancing, and the lyrics are pure bubblegum. Which is not to say that the album itself does not have any substance-- but the substance is in the style, I think, and in the musical ideas. If you've heard the "Suit and Tie" single, though, you've heard the album's deepest lyrics.

Partner in Cahoots

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Steven Hyden has a pretty fun analysis of the album over at Grantland.

I agree with much of his analysis, though I might like the album a bit more than he does (he finds it somewhere halfway between "sh*t and the sh*t.").

I whole heartedly agree with #18 of his 20 point analysis, though:

The only career transformation more amazing than Timberlake's is that of his buddy Fallon. SNL's serial sketch-killer is going to be the new Johnny Carson, and he deserves the job. Ladies and gentlemen, here's your mainstream entertainment establishment for the next 30 years.

Fallon's been killing it, and it's always fun when JT comes on the show. Those two guys love entertaining and performing together.

And that's the thing about JT: he's certainly not a lyrical genius (and this is certainly disproportionate to his stardom), but he is one of our great performers. Few others could kill on SNL, late night talk shows, bring Jay-Z with him on tour, and then gear up for a supporting role with Coens/Fincher/whoever. I'm with those who say there's substance to his style. Hyden's right: how in the world did N'Sync boy go from having to justify his solo act to being welcomed by Steve Martin, Dan Aykroyd, and co. into this special-guest elaborate "5-timers club"? I think, in part, because he's a performative genius in a way that is unique to his abilitly to cross entertainment boundary lines.

Edited by Nick Olson

"What is inside is also outside." -Goethe via Merleau-Ponty, in conclusion to the latter's one extended rumination on film
Filmwell, Twitter, & Letterboxd

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Yeah, put differently: am I going to spend hours absorbing his record? No. But am I almost certain to turn it on the next time I have a family dance party in the living room with my wife and 2 year old? Yes. And that's something, as far as I'm concerned.

"What is inside is also outside." -Goethe via Merleau-Ponty, in conclusion to the latter's one extended rumination on film
Filmwell, Twitter, & Letterboxd

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Right on, Nick: Timberlake has crazy charisma, and he is someone who works hard to entertain-- and anyone who needs proof can find it simply by watching him and Hov do "Suit and Tie" on SNL. (Or, yes, any bit from this week's Fallon shows.)

The younger me would have hated him, just because he wasn't Robert Smith. Or Lou Reed, or Johnny Cash. Whatever.

The adult, parent me - well, I'll admit I became a fan after The Social Network.

Now I'll watch - or listen- to anything he does. Not bad at all for a kid from Tennessee via the Mickey Mouse Club.

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I've been listening all week/3 days and I'm still entranced by "Let the Groove Get In" and all it's Afrobeat goodness. The first time you hear it in sequence it seems to come out of nowhere. After the next 10 (or 20..) listens, the song, of course, sounds far less daring but not a bit less exciting.

Hyden's remarks about JT's tenure are spot on. My friend pointed me to this:

http://youtu.be/uAusmM0fhkc. (NSFW language)

which illustrates his point perfectly. It's from 2 years ago, approximately 5 years into the JT drought. It's certainly a joke video, but the video is the joke, not the sentiment behind it. You can imagine its genesis being a few friends sitting around actually lamenting the lack of a new JT record. I don't actually have to imagine that conversation because its one I've had with several different people over the last several years. Like Hyden, I cannot imagine the same thing ever happening for any of today's pop stars, and that is due as much to JT's broad spectrum of talent and appeal as much as it is due to simply his musical talent.

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And that's the thing about JT: he's certainly not a lyrical genius (and this is certainly disproportionate to his stardom), but he is one of our great performers. Few others could kill on SNL, late night talk shows, bring Jay-Z with him on tour, and then gear up for a supporting role with Coens/Fincher/whoever. I'm with those who say there's substance to his style. Hyden's right: how in the world did N'Sync boy go from having to justify his solo act to being welcomed by Steve Martin, Dan Aykroyd, and co. into this special-guest elaborate "5-timers club"? I think, in part, because he's a performative genius in a way that is unique to his abilitly to cross entertainment boundary lines.

I started out making a tongue-in-cheek joke about JT the other day on Facebook and somehow wound up saying he's the closest thing this generation has to Sinatra. I was confused and possibly a little embarrassed about that until I came here.

"It's a dangerous business going out your front door." -- J.R.R. Tolkien
"I want to believe in art-induced epiphanies." -- Josie
"I would never be dismissive of pop entertainment; it's much too serious a matter for that." -- NBooth

"If apologetics could prove God, I would lose all faith in Him." -- Josie

"What if--just what if--the very act of storytelling is itself redemptive? What if gathering up the scraps and fragments of a disordered life and binding them between the pages of a book in all of their fragmentary disorder is itself a gambit against that disorder?" -- NBooth

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And that's the thing about JT: he's certainly not a lyrical genius (and this is certainly disproportionate to his stardom), but he is one of our great performers. Few others could kill on SNL, late night talk shows, bring Jay-Z with him on tour, and then gear up for a supporting role with Coens/Fincher/whoever. I'm with those who say there's substance to his style. Hyden's right: how in the world did N'Sync boy go from having to justify his solo act to being welcomed by Steve Martin, Dan Aykroyd, and co. into this special-guest elaborate "5-timers club"? I think, in part, because he's a performative genius in a way that is unique to his abilitly to cross entertainment boundary lines.

I started out making a tongue-in-cheek joke about JT the other day on Facebook and somehow wound up saying he's the closest thing this generation has to Sinatra. I was confused and possibly a little embarrassed about that until I came here.

Not sure that I'm ready to bring Frank into this quite yet-- though that's clearly what JT is going for these days-- but I am almost inclined to say he's the closest thing we have to a pop star with the universal appeal of Michael Jackson-- well, after Beyonce.

Partner in Cahoots

www.cahootsmag.com

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Not sure that I'm ready to bring Frank into this quite yet-- though that's clearly what JT is going for these days-- but I am almost inclined to say he's the closest thing we have to a pop star with the universal appeal of Michael Jackson-- well, after Beyonce.

I think JT has more overall range than Michael Jackson did as demonstrated by his TV appearances (including live TV) and acting roles (he might not be the greatest thespian, but the thing I think I admire about him most is his taste in film roles/films to be in - my favorite JT moment is his lip sync of The Killer's All These Things That I've Done in Southland Tales).

"It's a dangerous business going out your front door." -- J.R.R. Tolkien
"I want to believe in art-induced epiphanies." -- Josie
"I would never be dismissive of pop entertainment; it's much too serious a matter for that." -- NBooth

"If apologetics could prove God, I would lose all faith in Him." -- Josie

"What if--just what if--the very act of storytelling is itself redemptive? What if gathering up the scraps and fragments of a disordered life and binding them between the pages of a book in all of their fragmentary disorder is itself a gambit against that disorder?" -- NBooth

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For me, the first time I thought "man, this Timberlake kid isn't just a flash in the pan" was his performance in Black Snake Moan. It's not the biggest role, and he certainly doesn't kill it like he does in The Social Network, but it's an interesting choice--precisely because it's not a starring role by any means. For whatever reason, that impressed me.

I'm not sold on what I've heard of this album, but it's certainly on my radar.

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My copy arrived today and we blasted it back-to-back a couple times. It's a bangin' (yet silky smooth) album. I love how the songs are all pretty long and sort of composed of several movements and so at times it feels like a new song has begun but then the main hook will come back around. There are only ten songs but because of how they're arranged, it almost feels like there are twice as many songs here. And that effect really makes for a fun listening experience, IMO.

I can see why ?uestlove called the album "ballsy." It certainly doesn't pander to what pop music is doing right now. It has one foot in the past and one foot in the future. My wife and I are pretty taken with it. I imagine it'll be our "making dinner/dance party with our 2 year old" music for a good while.

Favorite Songs So Far:

- "Let the Groove Get In"

- "Tunnel Vision"

Edited by Gavin Breeden
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  • 3 months later...

The MJ comparison is actually why I don't care a whole lot for this album. Yes, it sounds LIKE MJ, but it doesn't have the composition or hook of a lot of MJs best stuff. It sounds like a pale imitation. I was even listening to the album thinking that the whole album feels like it's structured like a MJ album. It's still good, but it constantly fees like it's in the shadow of much, much better albums (Bad, Off the Wall, Thriller).

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JT's talented. Kanye's talented. Fine. But until they grow up and stop using their talents to make stuff that revels in the objectification, exploitation, and thus abuse of women, I'm not interested in coming up with "Yes, but..." defenses of their stuff. If JT was singing racist lyrics, people wouldn't be making excuses so easily. But these days, soft-porn music videos get a pass because, well, it's art and it's a celebration of women, right?

Sure, there's some impressive gloss and style in the music, but my attention to the album frequently strayed: Too processed, too automated, and far, far too shallow.

And then I stumbled onto that music video (I won't link to it, but it may as well be called "Yeah, I'm America's Wonder Boy, So I Can Fill Videos with Strippers and Get Away With It") and got angry. Sure, he's Mr. Charisma, but I'm not going to fall in with the fans unless he grows up and starts using his musical talents to a greater power than his dick. Things are worse than I thought, seeing as he released that video on July 4th for maximum exposure and I haven't seen a single post of objection. He may not bragging as brashly or as obscenely as West, but still... serious feminists should be challenging crap like this.

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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