Justin Timberlake



by morrissey EMERITUS
September 17th, 2006 | 28 replies

Release Date: 2006 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Straining so obviously to be the crux for the return of sexy, Timberlake allows his excessive effort to overshine the good music he has put to record.

In a pop world that goes through trends like Britney goes through pregnancies, there isn’t much time to dilly-dally over perfection, art, depth and other archaic criterion for what constitutes a “good” record. If you don’t release a single and accompanying video every few months, tour every year, and release a new record biannually, you’re soon going to realise you’re Debbie Gibson, it is 2006, and no one has thought about you in twenty years. So artists are forced to find ways of coping with the truncated cycle. They don’t sing live so as to preserve their vocal strength; they hire legions of collaborators, bang out a few tracks with each (oh Lord the entendres here are endless) and chose the best 11; they even conserve time in their videos, getting their assistants to hire filmmakers to create mini-films which have nothing to do with the music but in which the singer makes an 8 second cameo. Even with these efforts, artists can still find themselves sidelined within months of a release. So artists find ulterior means of remaining in the spotlight. They show up at parties, they get actress/model/singer girlfriends, they make films, they make films with their actress/model/singer girlfriends, they do drugs, they get arrested, they get a gay rumour floating. Whatever it is, it keeps them in the spotlight just long enough for people to care that they have a new record coming out. Take Justin Timberlake.

In 2002, he released his debut solo album, and it wasn’t until four years later that his follow-up was released. Four years is an awfully long time. Think of all the things that can happen in four years. An infant would become a walking, talking child and start school. If you were in the 9th grade you would have graduated; a freshman in university would now be holding a degree. John Entwistle, Layne Staley, Joe Strummer and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes all died in 2002. Think of how distant their deaths seem in your mind, how far away it all is. In music, “Complicated”, “Without Me”, “How You Remind Me” and “Get the Party Started” were beyond massive. Think of how things have changed. Avril has matured and married, the curtain has dropped on Eminem, Nickelback is one of the most reviled bands in existence, and so on. Some of the biggest albums of the year came from Nelly and Ashanti, who have all but dropped off the musical radar (unless you’d count “Grillz”, but let us not). Yet despite the significant amount of time that has passed between his two albums and the scores of pop artists who have faded in that timespan, Justin Timberlake never really went away. I don’t read tabloids or watch entertainment shows but I know Timberlake is dating Mary, or rather Cameron Diaz. He made some movies that no one has seen and did some drugs no one saw him do, slapped a paparazzo, rolled around in a wheelchair for a while, whatever. None of this is at all significant, is it" So how did Timberlake even survive the four-year gap" Five words: Ms. Jackson, if you’re nasty. Without detailing it here because who cares, Timberlake survived a four-year album gap because of Janet Jackson’s nipple. Mark my words that will be a doctorate thesis.

So arriving in 2006 off the strength of a nipple and some surfing pictures, he dutifully accepted the invitation to the yearly Pop Conference. He had already been working on a few songs here and there, but had yet to develop a tagline for his record. Still, he felt prepared enough. Sitting next to Beyonce and John Mayer, across from Christina Aguilera, he listened intently to the instructions. People were starting to notice that artistic vision and thematic depth had all but disappeared from pop, if it had ever been present in the first place. Therefore 2006 would be the year of maturation, of experimentation, and of gargantuan publicity jaunts and equally impressive record sales in time for the fourth quarter. 2006 would also be the year of failing to actually succeed in the former two categories, but the effort was there. Christina would go to the past, Justin to the future, Beyonce to wherever the fuck she is, Mayer to “I’m a serious musician” land (previously visited on every other of his albums – so much for experimentation). In Justin’s gift bag were a handful of slashes, a Prince symbol pendant, Timbaland’s phone number, a Shpongle album willing him to expand his song lengths, and a motivational poster urging him to bring sexy back. Take it to the chorus!

I have to admit, the first time I heard FutureSex/LoveSounds’s lead single “SexyBack”, I thought it sucked. No, beyond that. I knew. It sucked like [Lance Bass joke]. Knowing my first impression of that was frighteningly accurate, I feared for the state of the rest of the album. Upon first listen, it was more than disappointing. Fortunately, it does grow, unlike the detestable single. But one thing that never improves is the thematic absurdity of the record. It is excessively difficult to buy Timberlake as some kind of suave lover or magnetic sex symbol. He just isn’t. The boy is a good dancer, singer, all around performer. But sexy" Not quite. The man to bring sexy back" Not happening. This makes this album seem a little more than disingenuous. The opening song, “FutureSex/LoveSounds” is musically and melodically great. However, “Daddy’s on a mission to please”" Hard to buy. “She’s pressed up on me; I think she’s ready to blow”" “[/i]All I need is a moment alone, to give you my tongue and get you out of control[/i]”" It sounds like the dialogue to a low-rent porn film. It makes one question exactly what films Timberlake was starring in during his sabbatical.

This initial song establishes a pattern for the rest of the record. Infectiously catchy and in many cases accomplished pop music, marred by retardedly retarded lyrics. You know how to actually bring sexy back" You don’t talk so God damned much about it. “Sexy” is one of those qualities which should seem effortless and unintentional. You’re only sexy if you don’t care about being sexy. The way Timberlake approaches both sex and being sexy is the equivalent of a 16-year old boasting about being in a sexual relationship. No one else cares but him, but there’s a certain sense of needing to belong, aura that just exudes “guys guys take me seriously I’ve had sex seriously!” Generally you’d think people would be over it by the time they’re 25, then again celebrities are rarely well-adjusted people. Basically, if Timberlake didn’t try so hard to prove he was sexy, he might actually be.

Leaving the thematic issues aside and focusing instead on the music, there isn’t much to attack, particularly on the first half of the record. “Sexy Ladies” is smooth and funky, “My Love” has a fantastic beat and the appearance of T.I., while gratuitous, actually fits in well within the musical context of the song. As the next single, “My Love” bests “Sexyback” exponentially. “LoveStoned” reminds me heavily of “Last Night”, and the chorus seems to borrow from both his own “FutureSex/LoveSounds” and Nelly Furtado’s “Promiscuous”. But the song particularly starts to shine as it breaks down into a ballad-like interpretation of the chorus, titled “I Think She Knows Interlude”. If the record has four singles, this will surely be one of them. The third of the treble of fabulous songs is “What Goes Around…/…Comes Around” which has been labeled “Cry Me a River Pt. II”, and quite rightly. Timberlake has claimed it isn’t about Britney, but considering she’s married to a guy like Kevin Federline… it’s about her. No, seriously.

The latter half of the album really drags for me and there isn’t even a one song I would label a hit. I’m not a fan of the “Dirty South” musical style, but “Chop Me Up” is a decent white-guy attempt at it. However, I think it would have been more authentic if Timberlake lost the derrty South vocal affection in the verses. The same applies to “Summer Love/Set the Mood Prelude”. Much like with his attempt at being sexy, Timberlake simply tries too hard. “Damn Girl”, despite being co-written with pop master will.i.am, does absolutely nothing for me, as with the excessively bland ballads “Until the End of Time” and “(Another Song) All Over Again”. As he has proved over the past two albums, despite his vocal abilities, Timberlake can do nothing to make ordinary ballads even remotely appealing. “Pose” is kind of fun, but not a song anyone will remember in a year, six months, tomorrow.

“Losing My Way” is actually a beautiful song, but the lyrics are painful to listen to. As Timberlake tells about “Bob” who “can’t put down the pipe”, it might inspire one to pick up the little white rock, in fact. But musically and vocally the song is a highlight on the album.

Clearly, if it weren’t for the lyrics this record would be much stronger than it is. Most of my complaints of this album stem from the lyrics and themes, but I must emphasise that despite this the music and vocal melodies, particularly in the first half, are accomplished. The record is only harmed by Timberlake’s tendency to try to hard. He tries too hard to make a serious, mature, adult record. He tries too hard to appropriate characteristics of artists and styles he is fond of (Prince, Michael Jackson, dirty South music and so on). He tries too hard to sound sexy and sexual. In the end, if Timberlake just relaxed and let the cards fall as they may, he might for once allow his talent to override the hype and gimmickry and emerge with a record which proves artisanship is far from absent in the pop world. See you in four years.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
September 17th 2006


Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

That's what I do. Did you even read the whole review?

September 17th 2006


Good review, but I definitley have to second what Iluvatar is saying, though. You kind of went on off-topic rants, sometimes.

September 17th 2006


Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

Aye, fair enough. It probably does go on too long but I was trying to get a point across about the cyclical nature of pop music and how quickly things change, and what artists have to do to keep up with it. This Message Edited On 09.17.06

September 17th 2006


I like this review, Mozzy. I think you hit the mark with it. Nipples ftw lol....

I agree with your view of pop music and pop culture, and without pulling the race card because after all music is and should be multicultural, in this instance I simply hear a white boy playing black music and calling it "pop". Timberlake doesn't pay homage to or even imitate well the hip-hop and R&B artist he loves so much, he simply mimics them. And in embarrassingly poor fashion at that. Why anyone would want to listen to this suburban prat do black music so poorly is beyond me. And even when he does well its not on account of him. Its his producers, writers, collaborators like you said. Nothing new in music, but at least the person out front selling it can be real and authentic and not some wanna be riding on the work of others with a pretty face and a few slick dance moves. Timberlake = todays Vanilla Ice. Nothing more. Its nearly comical. And in a music world where you can throw on the latest Prince album or the new OutKast record why anyone would go for this piece of boring white bread is beyond me. This is not even "pop". It pure product. And I ain't buying.

September 17th 2006


nah. i don't. its actually fairly obvious and really simple. This Message Edited On 09.17.06

September 17th 2006


yeah you're right I take this stuff too seriously sometimes :p.

But I have been listening to what is considered "pop" these days. Or perhaps more accurately "ethnic pop". OutKast do a great job. Prince always has. Mariah and Christina, ditto. Even J-Lo. But this guy misses the groove to my ears. I saw him perform some of this live and its just kind of embarassing. Its like American Idol on steroids. I just can't stomach it

/tries to loosen up

September 18th 2006


Album Rating: 2.5

JXD is the coolest person ever.

It's bad enough that his songs are just cheap imitations to me, but the whole image revamping is pathetic, now hes talking smack on Kanye West, and cussing, and saying he "Does Drugs" that just screams poser to me and I flat out dont like people who try to hard without accomplishing much.

From what I've heard of this album (about half of it in my sister's car, which Is way more than i'd like) was about a 2 to me, but I would rate an album I havent fully listened to. I almost want to listen to the whole thing a few times so I can rate it what I knew it would be.

And as for the review: Best review of the album yet.

September 18th 2006


Your opening paragraph was really neat, I pretty much agreed with everything that you said.
[quote=review]I have to admit, the first time I heard FutureSex/LoveSounds’s lead single “SexyBack”, I thought it sucked. No, beyond that. I knew. It sucked like [Lance Bass joke].[/quote] Killer review.

September 18th 2006


I thought this review was spectacular. I enjoyed the first paragraphs as much as the rest, if not more. You have the unique ability to rant about biographical stuff for much longer than anyone else without it becoming dull.

The Jungler
September 18th 2006


Album Rating: 3.5

Brilliant, just brilliant.

This album is cool, I pretty much agree with you on all of it. I don't think I've ever seen a new release with 3 of 3 great reviews. Nice work everyone.

Storm In A Teacup
September 18th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

[quote=review]I have to admit, the first time I heard FutureSex/LoveSounds’s lead single “SexyBack”, I thought it sucked. No, beyond that. I knew. It sucked like [Lance Bass joke]. Knowing my first impression of that was frighteningly accurate, I feared for the state of the rest of the album. Upon first listen, it was more than disappointing. Fortunately, it does grow, unlike the detestable single. [/quote]Morrissey for de-mod '06. :angry:

p.s. good job as usual, you rock

September 18th 2006


I just heard My Love. Its surpringly good.

Little Man being Erased
September 19th 2006


Album Rating: 4.0

I don't think the truly horrible lyrics drag the album down as much as you do. And they are horrible in most cases. Maybe I just subconciously ignore them when I have to.

I give the album a 4 out of 5 and your review a B+ out of 7.

January 5th 2007


:lol: I love morrissey's reviews! I really do think that even good music (and it isn't THAT good here) can be really undermined by cheesy lyrics. The music on 'Justified' was better, IMO

July 30th 2007


Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Absolutely fucking GREAT!

One of the most hilarious and clever reviews I've ever read.

Top marks!

March 19th 2013


Album Rating: 5.0

this is the most absurd review ive seen, the song is excellent!! MY FAV OF THE ALBUM there is a reason why this song is named after the album, plus its TONE not TONGUE.. -______-

August 31st 2013


"What Goes Around...Comes Around" is such a fucking jam. A precursor to what he'd release with The 20/20 Experience.

August 31st 2013


Album Rating: 2.5

This is gay, but not too gay.

August 31st 2013


What'd you think of his latest?

August 31st 2013


Album Rating: 2.5

Not gay.

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