The Friday Morning Listen: Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience (2013)

You know, it was kind of fun cracking wise about all of those boy bands. The music was disposable (and made to be so), the hair was perfect, and so were the dance moves. They all used the same production software. They all made the young girls scream. They sold a metric buttload of records. I wasn’t particularly annoyed with any of it, mostly because it was nothing new. But people did act like this was some sort of new phenomenon. Seriously, manufactured pop music has been around a long time. The Backstreet Boys and N’Sync? They were just an extension of that tradition.

I haven’t payed a whole lot of attention to Justin Timberlake, the solo artist. At least, that is, until a few nights ago. Oh sure, I’ve heard “Sexi Back” but that’s about it. Last week Timberlake took up residence on Jimmy Fallon’s Late Night, premiering tunes from his new album. I’ve gotta say, the dude pretty much killed it. I’d been a fan of his acting for a while now — he’s a natural in sketch comedy (and if you haven’t seen the SNL digital short “Dick On A Box,” you owe it to yourself to check it out). Still, I never really knew Timberlake had the goods to bring it live. This large ensemble version of the The 20/20 Experience track “Let The Groove Get In” just burns it all down.

But…what would the record sound like? Actually, kind of amazing. Somehow all of the map stylistically, but kept from flying apart with enormous amounts of groove glue. On my second pass through the album, I found myself thinking “Uh…you’re listening (and enjoying!) a Justin Timberlake record. What the heck?!” A little while later, I checked out Facebook and a good friend — who is a fan of everything from Marvin Gaye to Peter Brotzmann — proclaimed the following:

Justin Timberlake – 20/20 Experience

Joins the ranks of:

Michael Jackson – Thriller
Michael Jackson – Bad
D’Angelo – Voodoo
Eryka Badu – Mama’s Gun

This, coming from a huge Michael Jackson fan. A guy who believes that Voodoo is one of the best R&B albums ever recorded.

And you know something? He’s right. This stuff is not disposable.

[amazon_enhanced asin="B00BCZU8WM" container="" container_class="" price="All" background_color="FFFFFF" link_color="000000" text_color="0000FF" /] [amazon_enhanced asin="B00BRR66SA" container="" container_class="" price="All" background_color="FFFFFF" link_color="000000" text_color="0000FF" /]

Mark Saleski

Mark Saleski is a writer and music obsessive based out of the woods of central New Hampshire. A past contributor to Jazz.com, Blogcritics.org and Salon, he writes several weekly features including the Friday Morning Listen, (Cross the) Heartland, WTF! Wednesday, and Sparks Fly on E Street. Follow him on Twitter: @msaleski. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.

Here's where you talk back ...