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August 13, 2007 - Image 28

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2007-08-13

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16 The Michigan Daily - Orientation Edition

Bringing pop back
Timberlake's bite (almost) as bad as his bark
By KIMBERLY CHOU positive reviews for the singer's band and his superstar girlfriend,
Associate Arts Editor digitized boasts ("I'm bringing sexy subsequently creating - aided pri-
back ... don't make me make up for marily by Timbaland and Pharrell
Sept. 12, 2006 - Right now, Jus- the things you lack") and casual Williams - the best vehicle for "Sorry, babe. Ij

4
6

tin Timberlake is absolutely bul-
letproof. Throw
together natty ***
suits, ubiquitous
facial hair and Justin
disemboweled Timberlake
disco balls. The
combo of Timbal- Futuresex/
and and espionage Lovesounds
equals a hit video lice
for "Sexyback."
And admitting to
reporters his experimentation with
drugs only makes him more popu-
lar.
Fururesex 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

profanity ("them motherfuck-
ers 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, puls-
ing keyboard pushes JT's vocals
over classic Timbaland chirps and
clicks from Aaliyah's "Are You That
Somebody?" T.I's guest rap adds 40
seconds of icing, his easy drawl slip-
slidingtoward 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.
The setup for Justified was as
near-scripted as it gets in melodra-
matic pop-music land. Timberlake
broke up with both his superstar boy

a newly solo pop artist in recent
memory. The few ballads arrived
flat, but "Like I Love You" became
the season's guilty pleasure 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.
But if imitation is truly the sin-
cerest form of flattery, Timberlake
is showing an awful lot of love
for his influences. On the playful
"Damn Girl," the clean '70s horns
and flirtatious, soaring chorus jux-
tapose with his modern tongue and

style. Sexy Al Green yelps brighten
the song. He draws from Green on
the orchestral ballads and subtle
slow jams and looks to Stevie Won-
der for ripples of sunshine-bright
pop and soul.
On Futuresex Timberlake trends
toward the experimental. "Sexy
Ladies - Let Me Talk To You"
serves as a prelude for "My Love,"
referencing the latter in a quirky
call-and-response with Timbaland
over light, clattering percussion,
while the "LoveStoned" interlude
and it's stutter-stop beat makes way
for the moody, quasi-indietronica
of "I Think She Knows."
But when Futuresex fails, it trips
in embarrassing fashion. "Losing My
Way" - with Timberlake playing a

washed-up crack addict - is out of
place next to cuts featuring Three
6 Mafia ("Chop Me Up," one of the
album's weakest) and semi-homo-
erotic Justin/Timbaland sexbanter.
Timberlake is currently the best
at what he's doing - dancing, hit-
ting birdsong falsetto, foraying into
movies - that it's impossible not
to judge him or desperately search
for one of his contemporaries that
is qualified to show him up. But
what's scary is that there's no one
else around him at that same level.
That might not be so much a sign of
his ability as a consummate enter-
tainer/performer but an alert that
we're seriously lacking in quality
pop music. The kid's not only com-
peting with Usher anymore.

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