November 5, 2007
JT, The New King of Pop?
The new Justin Timberlake album, FutureSex/LoveSounds is one of the best sounding pop albums since Michael Jackson’s Thriller was pressed onto vinyl oh so long ago (Thriller music video). While MJ got it right on his sixth attempt, JT appears to be vying for the crown as king of pop by dropping a monster of an album on only his second try. Thanks are largely due to producer Timbaland who has recently put out a plethora of amazingly catchy material. Timbaland adds heavy beats, lots of synth effects, a wide variety of urban talent (i.e. Three 6 Mafia, T.I., will.i.am), solid production and the ability to mold and cook JT’s voice like a piece of raw dough. However JT must be given a large amount of credit in his fore-site to see that in order to become a true pop-star sometimes you have to take risk. And FutureSex/LoveSounds was one heck of a risk.
The album you can tell is going to be different from his previous works by the way it starts out. FutureSex/LoveSounds the song, is an odd mix of futuristic synth, groovy guitar and whispery pressing lyrics. This trend continues with the first single Sexyback, albeit the sound changes to an aggressive driving beat, heavy voice distortion and somewhat annoying repetitious lyrics. The next song of real interest is My Love, simply an amazing song that’s so cool it doesn’t need to be told it’s cool to be cool, it just is. My Love, while a bit long in the tooth for a pop song (4min 36secs), features rap solos that can only be described as nailing it. LoveStoned/I Think She Knows (Interlude) is another song that can be described as amazing however for completely different reasons. More poppy and upbeat than My Love the preceding song, LoveStoned replaces cool with fun and offers interesting contrast with a somewhat melancholy ending in I Think She Knows (Interlude). What Goes Around…/…Comes Around is a song that everyone can understand. Love has been lost but seemingly to causes outside of ones control and there is nothing left to do but to move on. Its anger and disgust is palpable, we hear JT voice our emotion and directly relate asking him to sing it again , which he does for a full five minutes.
There are other hits on the album including the heavy rap song Chop Me Up (featuring Three 6 Mafia), the throwback song Summer Love and the surprisingly soulful song Losing My Way (which is ironic because what does a Mouseketeer know about crack?). The album on a whole shows off JT’s wide range of talent and the assortment of different hats he can wear. From playful teen pop star, soul singer, techno beat guy to bad boy, Mr. Timberlake succeeds wildly at each. The only question remaining is what will he do to top his already impressive music carrier? Hopefully something as new, dynamic and solid as what he’s making today. Big order, but the king of pop is a big title and won’t go to those not worthy of wearing its illustrious crown.
To hear a shortened podcast version of this review which includes several examples from the album, please click this link to download an mp3 or click the play button below to play the file in your browser.