Album Notes - Justin Timberlake - The 20/20 Experience
You definitely woke up early this new year and expected Album of the Week #256 to be Justin Timberlake. Amirite? For now I'm taking advantage of a name that has nothing to do with the year we just entered, but it fits, and I thoroughly enjoy this album. If Prince can release 1999 in 1982, why not go with a little The 20/20 Experience to kick off the new decade? Unless of course you're one of those "there's no year zero and therefore the next decade doesn't start until 2021" people, in which case you're not wrong, but it's all arbitrary anyway, so...whatever.
If I still believed in something like a "guilty pleasure," this would be it. But fuck it, if you like something, don't feel guilty about it. Embrace it. After he was 'N Sync and before he became a Man of the Woods, Justin Timberlake spent 2013 dropping not one but two insanely long, 70+ minute albums, the second of which contains virtually nothing worth re-listening to. Part one, however, is something else. A risk, an unknown, and a largely unprecedented release for a pop star, the shortest song is nearly five minutes long and seven tracks clock in over seven. Yes, that leads to some bloat. At least two numbers could be removed and no one (except those collecting royalties) would complain. But when you get down to it, I've got to hand to it to Mr. Timberlake: this is some fine pop. He takes risks few of his ilk are actually in position to execute. The former Mickey Mouse Club star was more of an actor than a singer at this point in his career, and his angle to acceptance in suspicious minds like mine was undoubedtly one of the greatest SNL skits of all time. From that point on I had a newfound respect for the former boyband member and was at least slightly receptive to whatever he might be involved in.
While this is pop, the majority of it is probably not "radio pop" by many who spend time and/or get paid to decree such things. The 20/20 Experience is essentially three-fourths of a really good album. Even at 75% of greatness, it's the most interesting thing he's done. Happy New Year everyone. Welcome to 2020.