This wasn’t the plan. The plan was to write about Mad Men. I had graphics done, I had my plan in my head. It was probably going to be gibberish nonsense but I was going ahead with it anyway. I even started writing the post but then, noticing that it had miraculously stopped raining, I took Molly (my dog) for a walk and everything changed.
The idea was somewhere in my head for a couple of days actually. Since the announcement of a new Justin Timberlake album I’ve been meaning to go back and listen to his music and that walk set the change of blog post in motion. I didn’t realise I would have such a reaction to hearing the songs again. What I mean to say is I didn’t realise that I enjoyed his music as much as I actually do. But my enjoyment and fondness is riddled with contradictions and questions to the point where I asked myself earlier why I liked any of the songs in the first place.
I had no idea who NSYNC were. I had absolutely no idea who the curly haired one was that began a solo career. At the time, I was right in the middle of my quietly-angry-at-the-world phase, forever with earphones in, listening to some punk music or whatever was trendy with the “uncool” kids who hated mainstream pop music at the time. Then some “uncool” friends of mine betrayed me. They liked a song, a mainstream pop song, by someone called Justin Timberlake. A song called ‘Like I Love You’. This one.
OK, there’s a lot to be said about this. The first thing is that Pharrell is a genius. The second is that I kinda want to punch Justin in the face for the entire length of the video. Actually no, I shouldn’t have said that. I absolutely want to punch him. It’s not his fault exactly but he embodies a type of person that I hated when I was younger and can just about tolerate now. An extremely confident, verging on cocky male really irritates me and he is spraying his cocky musk all over this video…There’s probably a better way to phrase that.
I was heartbroken when my friends that were girls told me that they thought he was super attractive. Him? But he’s a cocky cock!! Why is that attractive? If they thought he was attractive then I had no hope. I was on the other end of the cocky spectrum. Actually, that implies that we were on the same spectrum when we really were not. I was about five hundred levels beneath the spectrum and JT was a card carrying member of the cocky elite.
The third thing is dancing. Justin is actually very demanding when it comes to dancing. He’s constantly telling you, nay insisting, that you dance. What if I can’t dance Justin? What am I supposed to do? Just because you have wonderful dance moves it doesn’t mean the rest of us do. There was a moment when this song was a huge hit and I was at a nightclub. My friends and me were dancing together on a packed dance floor. I use the term ‘dancing’ loosely because I can’t really dance, I just make people laugh. All my extremities jutting out in violent fashion, complete disregard for the beat of the song or the safety of people’s faces around me. I’m a dancing health hazard.
While we were moving on the dance floor, and at every opportunity screaming “I just wanna love ya baby” in each others’ faces, some girls shimmied over to us. As they danced beside us, trying desperately not to make eye contact, I could tell that one of them was staring at me. I assumed this was the beginning of a long whirlwind romance between myself and this girl who had been in my peripheral vision for all of 4 seconds because why else was she staring at me? I was equal parts delusional, romantic and absolutely desperate at the time. It’s a grim cocktail. Because even though I knew I was delusional I still wanted desperately to believe my own romantic delusions. As the song was ending there was a mass dance off, because Justin demanded it, the girl who was staring at me approached. She got right up close to me and while she danced she asked…”Why do you dance like that? Can you not dance normally?”
She actually didn’t mean it as an insult, I think she was genuinely curious. There was a faint hint of sympathy in her voice like she thought I had some sort of dancing disability. I just replied…”no”… Knowing that I wanted to make a swift exit but also not wanting to make a scene, I shifted down the dancing gears and very stealthily and skillfully reversed my way off the dance floor, sat in the corner and contemplated existence.
That whole Justified album reminds me of that awkward time. By the time his next album had come around, everything had changed…Cocky McGee went into overdrive! Sexy was gone, there was no more sexy…but don’t worry people who love sexy things, Justin was bringing it back.
I have a mental exercise that I like to do. I like to think of the moments when musicians are coming up with lyrics to their songs. To imagine the exact moment when they are putting pen to paper and making the decision that they are going to commit to the words they’re writing down. Knowing full well that if the song is a hit that people will want you to sing it forever…even when you are past the legal age to still be considered sexy. So at some point Justin wrote down on a piece of paper “I’m bringing sexy back” and thought…”Yup, that’s a great way to start a song” I admire him because there is no way I could have done that. Unless it was a parody…wait…is this song a joke?
The boyish charm from the Justified album is gone. This is straight up Justin Timberlake wanting to have sex with you. The head was shaved, the beard was grown…It’s what I always want from a movie sequel, a natural progression. Justin Timberlake 2: This time it’s even more sexual. The producers changed and the sounds changed but the songs that he put out into the world were all huge hits.
The way I feel about Timberlake is similar to the way I feel about Kanye West. Meaning that I don’t particularly enjoy the genre of music that they are coming from but I really enjoy what they make. There aren’t many other artists from the R’n’B/Pop/Hip-hop scene that I will sit and listen to. I know listening to both Justin and Kanye that this isn’t my type of music at all but for some reason I find myself enjoying it.
There are parts of FutureSex/LoveSounds that I really enjoy and parts that I can’t get my head around. Take the song ‘My Love’ for example. It’s a sweet love song at the core.
because I can see us holding hands
Walking on the beach, our toes in the sand
I can see us on the countryside
Sitting on the grass, laying side by side
You could be my baby, let me make you my lady
Girl, you amaze me
Ain’t gotta do nothing crazy
See, all I want you to do is be my love
See? Thats sweet, right? He can see a future with this girl and it’s lovely, there’s countrysides and grass and toes…Then T.I. joins the song and offers his 2 cents on proceedings.
You say you wanna kick it when I ain’t so high? Man
Well, baby it’s obvious that I ain’t your guy
I ain’t gon’ lie, I’ll fill your space
And forget your face, I swear I will
Ugh… I hate it! Can we have a rapping interlude where T.I. just says some nice things? He also laughs after his ‘Candle Guy’ joke. He laughs at his own unfunny joke…I can tune that stuff out most of the time but in general I’m not a fan of lyrics that make me stop and think “Wow that’s unnecessarily disrespectful”.
Timberlake’s branched out and done a lot of acting also. I’ve always had the idea that he was cast as Sean Parker in The Social Network because David Fincher feels the same way about him that I do. From the very first time he’s on screen in the movie I want to punch him. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t always want to punch him. I’ve seen him in interviews and such and he seems like a good guy, he just seems to be able to slip into Cocky McGee mode very easily. I’m very wary of saying that any male celebrity is a good guy in our current climate because there could be a career shattering revelation about him around the corner. This post will be severely edited if such a revelation occurs.
So in general I would say I have a complicated relationship with JT. I admire him for a lot of things. I love that there’s only been three proper solo albums. I’m sure his hardcore fans want more than that but it makes it seem more essential listening when he hasn’t had an album out since 2013. That album, The 20/20 Experience completely passed me by. I don’t really know how, it just did. I may not be into this new album he’s got coming out either. But no matter whether I listen to it or not, he’s got the style of a well groomed cocky cock…and I gotta admire a man with style.