Words About Music
Justin Timberlake “The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2”
Last year, pop sensation Justin Timberlake, who’d been absent from the music world for well over 5 years, decided to hit the studio for a few days with his pal Timbaland and see what happens. He didn’t intend to record an album, but before he knew it he’d recorded over 20 tracks, most of which soared past the 6 minute mark. Our first taste was the 10-track album “The 20/20 Experience,” one of the year’s most excellent pop records which spawned infectious hits such as “Suit & Tie” and “Mirrors.” It didn’t take much longer for rumors to spread of a second part to the album, and lo and behold “The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2” was announced for 6 months after the release of Part 1. While “2 of 2” wasn’t a really necessary album, especially so soon after Part 1, it still proves to be a worthwhile edition, despite a few not-so-great songs and a few not-so-great parts of otherwise great songs.
While releasing multiple albums in a short time period doesn’t always work (see Green Day), sometimes it really pays off (see Death Grips), so I didn’t really have any reason to believe that “2 of 2” wouldn’t be as good as Part 1. And then it dropped, and I understood why people were giving it negative reviews. It’s actually currently the lowest rated Justin Timberlake album ever released.
First off, “2 of 2” doesn’t have a potential single that is as strong as “Suit & Tie” or “Mirrors” or even tracks like “Pusher Love Girl” and “Tunnel Vision.” Instead, “2 of 2” deals more with the explicit sex that Part 1 teased at. If Part 1 is the after-party then “2 of 2” is definitely the hotel lobby. Timberlake compares sex to a musical (“Cabaret”) and a boxing match (“TKO”) in ways I can really only describe as cheesy and immature. Timbaland says “She kills me with that coo coochie-coochie coo” on a song, and Jay-Z uses the word “Chocha” in context of Yoko Ono. So I wouldn’t say that they were trying to be coy with this part of the 20/20 experience. In fact, it’s sometimes hard to believe these albums were recored in the same month. Justin does try to experiment, both with song lengths on the 10-minute campy vampire love song “True Blood” and with genre-mixing on the pop-country influenced “Drink You Away,” to varying degrees of success.
While Justin Timberlake’s music has never really been about lyricism, he is at least still crafting incredibly catchy choruses when they’re not offensively bad. Even “TKO” is a really catchy song if you ignore Timbaland’s disgusting vocal contribution. The songs still justify their lengths, for the most part, and they take interesting turns that sort of spit in the face of regular pop music, which is something that JT has done since his incredible sophomore album “FutureSex/LoveSounds.” So while the complete 20/20 experience is not a 10/10 for me, both albums still embody what I always loved about Justin Timberlake’s music. The hooks are incredibly catchy, the production is grand, and he makes music for the 1% that doesn’t come across as completely braggadocios when it doesn’t need to be. I could do without the Jay-Z verses—2013 has to be Hov’s worst year—and if I wanted to hear Drake I’d listen to “Nothing Was The Same” again—which I don’t have a problem with—but overall, “2 of 2” is a decent addition to a much better first part.
SCORE – 6.7
FAVORITE TRACKS – Gimme What I Don’t Know (I Want), True Blood, TKO, Amnesia, Only When I Walk Away, Not A Bad Thing/A Pair of Wings