Timberlake’s return defies the mainstream

More than just “Dick in a Box” B-sides

It’s been seven years since Justin Timberlake released an album. Since then, he’s made a few not-so-good movies and has been featured on songs for other artists, the most recent being Timbaland’s “Carry Out”.

Every so often, as bad reviews rolled in for his movies, and as he heated up every song he was featured on, critics and fans lamented, hoping for the former ‘NSync-er’s return to music.

—(courtesy of Courtesy of RCA)

—(courtesy of Courtesy of RCA)

Timberlake would offer up a snippet on Saturday Night Live, where his digital shorts with the Lonely Island hit cult status online as soon as they were uploaded, or carry a tune for other artists. He promised that he would return soon and we were confident he knew when the time was right.

For Timberlake, that time is right now. 20/20 Experience’s lead single, “Suit and Tie,” has an old school vibe, with an accompanying video that shows JT and featured artist Jay-Z are doing their best Sinatra.

It’s telling that apart from Timbaland in the background of some tracks, Jay-Z was chosen as the album’s only feature. Jay Z, a married rapper and entrepreneur, exudes exactly the kind of grown-up vibe Timberlake is trying to portray on this album.

[pullquote]”Justin and Jay-Z are doing their best Sinatra.”[/pullquote]

As soon as JT confirmed he would be releasing a new album, music fans began speculating whether 20/20 Experience would sound similar to his last album, FutureSex/LoveSounds or if he would adapt to the electro-dance-R&B mish-mash that the genre has become lately.

20/20 Experience is neither. Timberlake should have called the album pastlovesexsongs, because it emanates a soulful vibe that hasn’t been heard since Amy Winehouse.

The key to longevity can sometimes be sticking to what works and partnering with Timbaland is what works for Justin Timberlake. The two have one of the most synergetic bonds in the business, and Timbaland lends some of his trademark background vocals to “Don’t Hold The Wall,” which blends both Bhangra and Arabic influences.

Having Timbaland’s bass heavy sound adds a more modern aspect to the album, and cements the unique sound of the album — no one is doing this on the radio right now.

This project is Timberlake’s first album as a married man, and the change is reflected sweetly in his music. Love, in all of its stages, is the tone of the album with Timberlake devoting many songs to it.

By drawing inspiration from an older sound, Timberlake has been defiant of the current trends of his genre of music. He has taken music back to a time when performers’ vocals were layered over real instruments.

This album will undoubtedly be a huge success; it could probably go platinum on hype alone. Timberlake is more than deserving of the acclaim, as this album is one of the more exciting sounds of the year.

It doesn’t make sense to ask if he would go back into the sound of mainstream music, if anything this album will influence the direction that mainstream heads in, with the Prince of Pop back on his throne.

 

Songs to listen to: “Spaceship Coupe”, “Pusher Love Girl”

OVERALL GRADE: B+

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