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September 12, 2006 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2006-09-12

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September 12, 2006

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Art is life is art is life

Justin Timberlake, in typical form.

By Kimberly Chou
Associate Arts Editor
Right now, Justin Timberlake is absolutely
bulletproof. Marketing aesthetic for his sopho-
more record? Throw
together natty suits, Justin
ubiquitous facial hair Timberlake
and disemboweled disco
balls. Bam - buckets Futuresex/
of hype. Music video for Lovesounds
his lead-off single? The Jive
combo of Timbaland
and espionage equals - boom - a hit video
for "Sexyback." And admitting to reporters his
experimentation with drugs and alcohol? Only
makes him more popular.
With all of the advance press Timberlake
has garnered for Futuresex/Lovesounds, it'd
be fair to expect the album to blow his surpris-
ingly solid debut, Justified, out of the water.
Futuresex has certainly been built up in
coquettish PR fashion: dropping an early
leadoff single here, playing a surprise show
with all new cuts there. "Sexyback" gar-
nered contrived spacebar jokes and posi-
tive reviews for the singer's digitized boasts

("I'm bringing sexy back ... don't make me
make up for the things you lack") and casual
profanity ("them motherfuckers don't know
how to act") spun over Tesla coil shocks of
rhythm. Second single "My Love" rides its
A-list guest stars: a teasing, pulsing key-
board pushes JT's vocals over classic Timba-
land chirps and clicks from Aaliyah's "Are
You That Somebody?" T.I 's guest rap adds
40 seconds of icing, his easy drawl slip-slid-
ing toward a coda. Not just bitter over the
Britney breakup (re: "Cry Me a River" and
its uncomfortably voyeuristic, yet titillating,
music video), Timberlake lets loose with that
sweet, gushy stuff, flirting with matrimony
in his lyrics. He's 25, dating an older woman,
toying with facial hair and funk carioca beats
- this is good for him.
Admittedly, the impact of Timberlake's
2002 debut will be hard to top. The setup
for Justified was as near-scripted as it gets in
melodramatic pop-music land. Timberlake
broke up with both his superstar boy band
and his superstar girlfriend, subsequently
creating - aided primarily by Timbaland
and Pharrell Williams - the best vehicle
for a newly solo pop artist in recent memo-
ry. The few ballads arrived flat, but "Like I
Love You" became the season's guilty plea-

sure and the album spawned a host of other
hits, including one originally written for
Timberlake's idol, Michael Jackson ("Rock
Your Body").
Timberlake's efforts elicited comparisons to
Jackson for his debut, and there's been Prince
talk surrounding Futuresex, especially with
the confident, bedroom vibe of his lyrics and
the silky, deliberate beat of "Until the End of
Time" (a Donny Hathaway-inspired ballad fea-
turing the Benjamin Wright Orchestra).
But if imitation is truly the sincerest form
of flattery, Timberlake is showing an awful
lot of love for his different influences. On the
playful "Damn Girl," the clean '70s horns
and flirtatious, soaring chorus juxtapose with
his modern tongue and style ("You don't need
Maybelline / 'Cause you're a beauty queen ...
I guess I gotta put it down tonight"). Sexy Al
Green yelps brighten the song. He draws from
Hathaway and Green on the orchestral ballads
and subtle slow jams, looks to Stevie Wonder
for ripples of sunshine-bright pop and soul, not
to mention any other black pop artist (name
preferably followed by "legend") who seems
fit to be name-dropped in reference. Part of
Timberlake's success is how unabashedly he
borrows from the singers and songwriters he
See JUSTIN, page 8

t's easy to preach art's qualify-
ing nature: that we (as a town,
a university, a nation) need,
on any level, an appreciation for
expression. And in the context of a
fine arts column, it would be even
easier to condense such a sentiment
by shouting: "There's a museum."
"There's a gallery." "There's avant-
garde theater."-
Such are the expres-
sions of a select few
in few select places
- some convenient,
some not so much. It's
so easy to pin up a few
institutions and orga--
nizations as the be-all
and end-all of "arts
But this process is ANDREW
too self-contained, too K
obvious. It errs on the
side of simplicity - narrowing the
list of cultural/artistic motherships
does not make them more acces-
sible. It cultivates an "either I go to
the museum and 'culture' myself
or I don't" mentality.
Our beloved Museum of Art is
undergoing reconstruction - a
massive project that will only bet-
ter the museum as a whole. But we
must wait. And the original pur-
pose of this column was to remind
you, gentle freshman and aged
sixth year, that there are still many
places to "experience art." But the
nature of that premise is problem-
atic: You experience art here, but
not there. That building has a high
aesthetic value. Look at it. A lot.
The fact is that art can be "expe-
rienced" anywhere.
It isn't so pared down. It can't
be. Unfortunately, "arts apprecia-
tion" denotes looking at paintings.
Looking at sculptures. Going to a
foreign movie. Quick answers that
transform "arts appreciation" into
a misnomer.
We should be appreciating cul-
ture, the arts being one part of a
great whole.
Which brings us to Ann Arbor.
It's where you are - you have to
make the most of it.
Ann Arbor, for all her rich his-
tory of hippies and hash and poli-
tics, is glossed over by repetition
of the mundane. Dry commercial
and yuppie chains are acces-
sible anywhere. Dorm rooms are
small and cramped, which feels
like that Angell Hall classroom
which feels like that Dennison
classroom and hey, Scorekeepers
is like Rick's is like Ashley's is
like Leopold Brothers. The broad
Diag paths don't feel so roomy
around noon on a Tuesday. Fast
forward 14 hours and you have a
barren landscape.
Seasonal depression is a reality.
When you're deprived of sunlight
for too long, your brain, imagina-
tion and energy suffer. Is it such a
leap to claim that additional stimu-


li - that which makes us think, to
any capacity - is necessary? That
a day-to-day, semester-to-semes-
ter, graduation-to-graduation rou-
tine demands an "appreciation of
culture" in order to maintain equi-
Ann Arbor has been around long
enough to develop deep
nuances and quirks.
Expression ranging
from the individual to
the collective, the aes-
thetic to the political,
is ripe for the experi-
encing. Some exam-
pies are easy: the Law
Quadrangle, the Fleet-
wood Diner, Work (the
SARGUS student art exhibit on
State Street), Nickels
Arcade. But even these

gems run the risk of falling into the
humdrum mesh of college life.
How can we as students of any
status rise above the superficial?
We must adapt.
Adapting to your environment
is one of the most important skills
you can learn in your life. It's how
horrible jobs become bearable, how
dull cities become hotbeds of inspi-
ration. How can we adapt to Ann
Arbor? By finding and appreciating
nuance: the graffiti-thick alley off
of Liberty Street (kitty-corner from
the Fleetwood), the brick streets in
Kerrytown, the Union's wind-rip-
pled ivy and the fact that folks smile
at you and hold the door open.
But here I go, listing random
things that make my Ann Arbor
experience as individual as I can
manage. Every once in a while
I stop and watch our beloved
Michael Jackson impersonator
near Liberty Street and State
Street. If he's not there, I go into
that acoustically perfect alley and
walk through its maze of murals
and tags.
We owe this ourselves: keeping
our heads up, noting the excep-
tional and the everyday and how
the two combine to give us our
appreciation of culture. It's an
awareness of your surrounding,
not just specific actions (going to
and "appreciating" an art exhibit,
for example), that complements
our personal development. Ann
Arbor may not be the best place
for you to spend the next years of
your life, but you owe it to yourself
to make the most of what you can.
When you can.
But when 10, 20, 50 years go
by and retrospection sets in, what
will Ann Arbor mean to you?
Classes and beer? Or a time when
you developed your mind not just
through your classes but with every
step in between? Time will tell.
- Klein's scruff is, like, really
deep performance art. E-mail
him at andresar@umich.edu.

M BlcM gves U a cance torecord

By Bernie Nguyen
Managing Arts Editor
If you've failed your Ameri-
can Idol audition, take heart. Your
chance to make it big might finally
be here. In search of what they hope
will be "the most original musical
piece and performance by a Univer-
sity of Michigan student or group,"
Block M Records, the University's
recording company and studio,
opened a school-wide competition
called "New Music on the Block"
on Sept. 5.
Mary Simoni, associate dean for
the School of Music, Theater and
Dance and one of the competition's
chief organizers, said that "New
Music on the Block" is aimed at all
the students on campus.
The program was designed with a
goal of celebrating creativity in the
student body through the promotion
of original works composed and
performed by University Students,
she said.
"It's just because we've seen so

much student creativity here in the
School of Music, Theater and Dance
beyond those students who are
enrolled,' Simoni said. "We wanted
to give them a creative outlet on the
label - just the joy of having their
music heard by the world"
The contest will be judged by
a panel consisting of experienced
producers, composers, University
faculty and media personalities,
according to Block M. The panel
will select winners based on creativ-
ity, originality and quality of perfor-
mance, and will award the winning
performers with a recording contract
for the winter 2007 semester.
Winners will also get a chance to
record their music at the newly reno-
vated Audio Studio in the Duderstadt
Center. Block M and the School of
Music, Theater and Dance will help
produce the piece. The new sound
engineering program at the school,
Simoni said, will bring students
together both in the composition and
in the production of original music.
"It's directly tied to making our

classroom a living/learning experi-
ence for all our students," she added.
Distribution of the winning pieces
through iTunes is also a possibility.
Simoni said that the School of
Music,Theater and Dance and Block
M are planning on making the com-
petition a yearly event, and that in
the future the program may expand
to include video, a rising creative art
among the student population.
"It could be video art, documenta-
ries," Simoni said. "It could be music
The contest, which runs through
Friday, accepts submissions on CD
only, and a submission form must
accompany each entry. Entrants may
range from single student perfor-
mances to groups of 100 members.
The main qualification is that the
work must be original and must be
performed by University students
who are currently enrolled.
Submissions are due by 5 p.m.
Friday, and should be hand-deliv-
ered to the School of Music, Theater
and Dance and Block M Records in

the Moore Building on North Cam-
pus. Winners will be notified by
Oct. 1, and will receive invitations
to perform at the Video Studio at
the Duderstadt Center on Oct. 20
and 21.
The competition is sponsored
by Block M Records, the School of
Music, Theater and Dance, the Digi-
tal Media Commons of the Duder-
stadt Center and Apple, Inc.

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Public Policy
Introducing a new interdisciplinary liberal arts degree from one of the nation's
top public policy schools.

We invite you to attend one of two
upcoming information sessions about the
Ford School B.A.
Professor John Chamberlin, faculty direc-
tor of the undergraduate program, will
describe the new degree program and
will be available to answer questions.
The Ford School B.A. is a junior/senior
program. The application deadline for the
first incoming class is February 1, 2007.

Wednesday September 13
4pm - 5pm, Weill Hall
Betty Ford Classroom, miso
Monday, September 18
6:30pm - 7:30pm, Weill Hall
Betty Ford Classroom, 11o


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