Who would have thought a skinny white kid would become the Marvin Gaye of the 2010’s? As strange as it may seem, that’s exactly who Justin Timberlake embodies with his latest album, The 20/20 Experience. Check out his singly Suit and Tie below and then read our review after the jump!
Timberlake vs 400,000 AC/DC Fans
When Justin Timberlake released his debut solo album, Justified, back in 2002, it made him a certifiable star outside of his boy band, N’Sync. And kudos to JT, he was willing to play in front of everybody, including the Toronto Rocks/SARSStock crowd that piled into Downsview Park in the summer of the 2003 to see the Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Rush and The Guess Who rock for the city and encourage tourists to return. Clearly, Justin Timberlake didn’t really fit in, and the crowd of more than 400,00 were impatient and disrespectful, throwing water bottles and booing the singer. Standing in the crowd, I wondered what he was doing there, and what was he thinking. To his credit, Timberlake kept on going with a smile on his face, and demonstrated that maybe there was more to him than just pop music. He even held his own with The Stones, sharing a duet with Mick and the boys on a solid version of Miss You.
Ten years later and Timberlake is a multi-talented threat – a beloved actor and musician, a celebrity who hasn’t imploded but rather pursued his various crafts, honing them along the way.
The 20/20 Experience
Timberlake’s new album, released this past Tuesday, is the most experimental pop album from a mainstream musician I’ve heard in years. The most conventional song on the album is first single Suit and Tie, which times out at a relatively short five minutes. Nearly every other song on The 20/20 Experience runs more than seven minutes. Seven minutes! On Top 40/Hot AC radio, that’s a lifetime. But Justin isn’t playing for radio here – he’s playing for the art of pop. Much like Marvin Gaye did on defining albums like What’s Going On, Here, My Dear and In Our Lifetime, JT is letting the music and the vibe flow. Pusher Love Girl is a solid example – part romantic love letter (to one J. Biehl, I’m guessing), part groove oriented trip. The same can be said for Tunnel Vision and the Prince-flavoured Strawberry Bubblegum.
Watching Timberlake take on all sorts of film roles, knock it out of the park time and time again on Saturday Night Live, and with his friend Jimmy Fallon, you realize that this guy isn’t playing at any of his crafts. He’s an artist. And he knows his musical stuff. I don’t know what one of his younger fans will think when they listen to The 20/20 Experience. I’d expect a combination of curiosity and hopeful dreams that he’s singing to them. For the musical connoisseurs, the ones for a taste for 70’s soul and R & B with an edge, they’ll no doubt hear something else, but something just as captivating.
Well worth a listen or twenty.