Justin Timberlake has successfully dominated the entire media world. From his early days on the Mickey Mouse club, to his days in NSYNC, to his present-day movie roles, Timberlake conquers every project he takes on. His return to the music scene, The 20/20 Experience, is no different.
A six year break didn’t impede on Timberlake’s musical ability, rather, the years spent producing and songwriting for others only perfected it. The long-awaited album features ten songs (twelve on the Target deluxe edition) ranging from six to eight minutes in length. Though rather long, each song reflects Timberlake’s signature blend of R&B, pop and soul. JT definitely still has it going on – it being sultry musical flair and class.
The instrumental intro of “Pusher Love Girl” sounds like the beginning of an old, classic movie. This is fitting for the first track of The 20/20 Experience. Kicking off the album, “Pusher Love Girl” compares the desire for a girl’s love to a craving for a drug. It’s addicting and JT sings of his need for it, desperately needing his fix of her love. It does a good job at preparing listeners for the R&B/pop sound that the southern crooner is known for, as well as setting the scene for what else the album has to offer.
As the first single released from the album, “Suit & Tie” is an excellent preview of what The 20/20 Experience brings. It earned the top spot on the iTunes digital downloads chart and peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip Hop song chart. The song, featuring Jay-Z, has listeners bobbing their heads along to its catchy beat which nicely incorporates a horn section. “Suit & Tie” may possibly inspire listeners to don the dapper attire next time they hit the city for a night out.
The third song, “Don’t Hold the Wall,” has an interesting sound. The background beats sort of sound like tribal music. While Timberlake’s vocals do make an appearance in the song, the lyrics are rather repetitive. The song seems to rely heavily on the background beats and sound mixing, more so than the other tracks on the album.
Track four, “Strawberry Bubblegum,” begins and features a sultry voice over from a deep voice guy throughout the song. When hearing the lyric “gonna love you til I make you POP,” I can’t help but think of the oh-so memorable song, “Pop” off of the early 2000 release of *NSYNC’s final album, Celebrity. Besides the obvious differences between the two songs, “Strawberry Bubblegum” has a slower tempo. The song has more vocals from JT, unlike the song that precedes it.
“Tunnel Vision” is definitely ranks high in my top songs from The 20/20 Experience. The song blends a variety of sounds including a few backing vocal tracks, occasional horns and synth beats. The back track is a perfect accompaniment to Timberlake’s unique voice, which cleverly delivers the message that in a crowded room; only one girl has caught his eye. “I got that tunnel vision for you…”
Who wouldn’t love JT singing an invite to “Just hop into my Spaceship Coupe?” This track continues the sensual vibes, inviting a special someone to go on an out of this world adventure with him. Timberlake smoothly hits each of his famous high octave notes. He sings, “I love it when I hear you sing.” Really though, we love it when he sings to us.
Throw in some Motown elements and a hint of Marvin Gaye, and you have track seven. “That Girl” is introduced as if listeners are in the audience of an underground venue, witnessing a concert by “JT and the Tennessee Kids.” A ballad to his number one girl, “That Girl” reaffirms his unconditional love and feelings for his leading lady. The song shows that even with techno beats and mixes, Timberlake remains a great songwriter who can write meaningful lyrics.
Moving away from the sultry vibes, “Let the Groove Get In” breaks the usual slow, sensual routine of the other tracks. “Let the Groove Get In” has a Latin flair to it. This song can easily be used as a dance track for a Cha-Cha or Salsa. It’s fast-paced and does make you want to get up and “Let the Groove Get In.”
“Mirrors” is probably my personal favorite from the album. The second single to be released and first performed live on Timberlake’s fifth hosting gig on SNL, “Mirrors” is another ballad meets beats song. A clever way of phrasing “you’re my other half,” Timberlake compares finding “the one” to looking in a mirror. “And now it’s clear as this promise that we’re making, two reflections into one...” The beautifully written lyrics make this song my number one from this album. “Girl, you’re my reflection, all I see is you.”
“Blue Ocean Floor” takes on a whole new persona. First hearing the song, I thought of the movie “Titanic.” The last song of the regular CD, “Blue Ocean Floor” sounds chilling and melancholic; however, if you listen to the lyrics, the message is quite the opposite. I see the message as one about eternal love. “Under the water you scream so loud but the silence surrounds you. But I hear it loud and you fall and you fall into the deep and I’ll always find you.”
The bonus tracks, which can be found on the Target Deluxe Edition of the album, both appear to share a common theme: getting with a girl. Both songs also share vocals from Fauntleroy and Robin Tadross. Titled “Dress On” and “Body Count,” the two extra tracks are great additions to conclude The 20/20 Experience.
Timberlake never fails to astound fans. His comeback album, The 20/20 Experience, is, in fact, an experience that reminds music fans that JT never disappeared from the music world – he simply waited until the music world was ready for yet another brilliant piece of work. With its great blend of various genres of sounds and lyrics, this album was definitely worth the wait.