Can Justin Timberlake bring Sexy Back?
In seven years, a song such as Azealia Banks’s "212" has made someone singing about bringing “Sexy Back” seem like the quaintest thing ever, granddad. Jennifer Gannon wonders if Justin Timberlake can still cut it
Once, there was an irresistible cheekiness that triggered a frisson of excitement, but it seems to have crusted over with time and left a smug residue. Was it the fact that this intensely private star chose to sell his wedding photos to People magazine? Was it the debacle of the wedding video created by his friend that apparently mocked homeless people? His desperate attempt to convince us that Myspace is cool? And what’s the deal with his new found love of Bob Dylan? Whatever, it all makes liking Justin that little bit harder, especially as this album is full of eight-minute epics, odes to the world’s shiniest human ponytail, Jessica Biel. Yes, this album attempts to make the previously personality free Biel look interesting and he doesn’t even mention 7th Heaven.
It’s a mean feat, skilfully carried out with the help of one man. Timberlake may have gone slightly awry and gooey -eyed but, thankfully, Timbaland is still right on message.
The 20/20 Experience may be Timbaland’s most ambitious work yet.
It’s a heady cosmic stew of Funkadelic, The Delfonics, Stevie Wonder and the obligatory hat-tip to the master of sex-funk, Prince, pushed through a modern filter of sampling, looping and distortion. The concentrated mayhem of Let the Groove Get In shows there may be some spark left in those old dancing shoes and the marshmallow-sweet opener, Pusher Love Girl, with its swoonsome strings and robo-funk beat, spirals out into a deserved eight minutes of sugary heaven.
In a recent Rolling Stone interview, Timberlake urged fans to listen to the album as a whole conception from start to finish, which is admirable in this world of Spotified teens, but with the bulk of The 20/20 Experience made up of seven-minute mini-opuses that at times can slide into a mush of self indulgence, it will be interesting to see how it works live.
Justin Timberlake - Hits Playlist
Will punters let the lengthy Blue Ocean Floor wash over them or will there be a mass exodus to the bar until its Cry Me a River time? It all depends on Justin’s ability to work his charisma on a crowd: that quixotic magic that only the glitziest stars possess, that is developed over time and will be remembered long after Blurred Lines has been relegated to the pop dumper.
yyy Justin Timberlake plays the Phoenix Park on Wed, July 10th