Entertainment: The Experience Continues: A Review of JT’s Recent Release
This past week, Justin Timberlake released the 2nd installment of his 3rd studio album. The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2 showcased Timberlake’s broad musical inclinations over 11 songs (13 on the Deluxe Edition).
The album presents itself as a maturation of The 20/20 Experience, Timberlake’s part one of the “experience,” released in March. Lyrics and thematic content are more explicit than in the previous album, so while the style in which many of the songs are produced sounds familiar, this creates a drastic difference in tone.
Timberlake’s album features stylistic lending from contemporary pop music. Many of the beats on his songs could have just as easily appeared in a Young Money track – he even features Drake on the song “Cabaret.” His hip-hop/rap backings in “TKO” and “Murder” pay homage to the contemporary rap scene, but he still puts his own style in each track.
While the album does find some of its roots in modern rap, it would be unlike Timberlake to produce an album with only one sound. “Take Back the Night” is dance anthem, “Drink You Away” is an edgier R&B number. This makes classifying the genre of the album difficult, as it varies from song to song, but there is a sense of soul that carries throughout the whole album.
The balance Timberlake finds in The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2 is similar to that of part one (although Jay-Z’s verse in “Murder” is actually worth listening to, unlike his failed attempt in “Suit and Tie”). Timberlake’s R&B styling is similar to that of Beyoncé or Usher, but JT wouldn’t be JT if he didn’t still show some of his boy band past. Much of the album has hints of *NSYNC, but with a much higher degree of musical sophistication.
So while that is tone of the album, here is the verdict:
What JT did well:
-He created an evolving sound, so it doesn’t seem identical to his prior releases.
-He pursued a broad style, so each song sounds different from the previous.
-He built on the successes of The 20/20 Experience; the albums as one production blend well.
-He had lots of good songs on the album – I consider 7 of the 11 songs “good” – but there is no individual track that stands out (Like “Mirrors” from part one).
-The sweet melody of “Not a Bad Thing” gives an incredible outlet for the nostalgic *NSYNC fan in all of us.
What JT didn’t do well:
-The explicit content in the album allowed for some freedom in themes and lyrics, but much of the time it came across as unnecessary and took away from the music.
-In an attempt to create a John Legend-esque romantic track, “Cabaret” and “You Got It On” sound insincere and almost uncomfortable.
-“True Blood.” This song is undoubtedly the weak point on the album.
-I was hoping for a sequel to “SexyBack.” It didn’t happen.
Overall, Justin Timberlake succeeded with this album. From beginning to end, the album is full of interesting, enjoyable music. Normally I would rate an album with a letter grade, but in the “20/20” fashion, I will go ahead and concede that Timberlake was close, but I would have to pass off a final grade of 16/20.