“20/20” Will Take You By Surprise & On A THC-Induced Ride

April 16, 2013 / by / 0 Comment

Just being a girl born in the early 90s automatically makes me a junkie for Justin Timberlake’s music. I swear though, it is much more than his pretty boy swag suit and tie- he now resonates an abundance of a new talent reminscent of rhythm wonders such as Parliament, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye. Timberlake’s third solo album “The 20/20 Experience” definitely did not forget to bring sexy back- and that is an understatement.

In a single week, “20/20” sold 968,000 copies in addition to 580,000 iTunes copies internationally. These staggering statistics broke the iTunes record for fastest selling album in its first week. The second chart week experienced an additional 318,000 U.S. sales, making it the first album of the year to reach 1 million sales. But what is really profound about “20/20” is not its amount of catchy songs to dance to- in fact, it’s due to the exact opposite. The album isn’t trying to be catchy, it’s trying to be music.

Listeners can expect a smooth, futuristic jazz-heavy album dedicated to naturally lengthy tracks rooted in the elements of rhythm and flow. Some songs echo “Justified” and “Future Sex/Love Sounds” while others boldly steer away from pop into a spacey soul direction, unique on its own. It’s definitely a new perspective on JT’s familiar pop music scene. Some have categorized the “20/20” sound as the neo-soul genre.

In a world where processed synthetics have become accepted and nearly expected, modern pop seems to completely lack originality and talent. The vast majority of songs get to the hook within 20 seconds. An even larger percentage of mainstream singles are less than three minutes and 30 seconds long. Timberlake shatters this apparent pop song formula. The shortest track on “20/20” is “That Girl” with 4:47, but including the Deluxe Edition bonus track “Dress On” it’s 4:39.

According to a Timberlake interview in February, he mentioned his thought process upon the album’s creation, “If Pink Floyd and Led Zepplin can do 10-minute songs and Queen can do 10-minute songs then why can’t we? We’ll figure out the radio edits later.”

Not only does “20/20” defy pop in track length but more evidently in sound. Staccato horn stabs, beautiful falsetto harmonies, unexpected tempo and rhythm changes all serenade listeners into a spacey sexual trance of motion and sound such as in works like “Pusher Love Girl” and “Don’t Hold The Wall.” It’s a soul masterpiece from big band upbeat melodies like “That Girl” to ambient, deep endeavours such as “Blue Ocean Floor.” The afrobeat track “Let the Groove Get In” causes one’s instinct to instantly feel a parallel to the musical spirit of Michael Jackson.

The album was produced over a span of 20 days last summer, finishing around mid July. Timberlake is credited as the executive producer, primary aritst and vocal producer as well as with guitars, mixing and vocal arrangement. Of course, the Timberlake/ Timbaland tag team is in effect for Timberlake’s third solo installment. Joining the squad of music production engineering is Jerome “J-Roc” Harmon, who has worked with artists including Jamie Foxx, Mario, Keri Hilson and Jay-Z. J-Roc has worked with Timbaland and Timberlake on Timbaland’s “Shock Value II” JT-featured track “Carry Out” in 2009. “20/20” is audio evidence of the limitless bursts of creativity their production collaboration originates. It’s organic, raw and real.The album creates a listening atmosphere in which one experiences a form of heightened consciousness. The listener can more clearly hear the various instruments and vocal harmonies in cohesion to one another, in focus recognizing the parts that make up the sound in whole.

Timberlake noted the albums omniscient effects in an interview with Ryan Seacrest, explaing how that very notion is what named the album “The 20/20 Experience,”

“It more or less came out of I was playing some of the stuff for my friends and they would come in and out of the studio and I’d say, ‘What do you think of this?’ And my best friend said, ‘This is music that you can see,’ and for some reason that stuck with me,” Timberlake said.

“Suit & Tie” < Other tracks that you definitely need to hear:
“Pusher Love Girl” (below)
“Don’t Hold the Wall”
“That Girl”
“Let the Groove Get In”
“Dress On”

Never did anyone expect JT to create a love song with drug innuendos…


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Stephanie is a senior Advertising and Public Relations & Multiplatform Journalism double major at Duquesne University expected to graduate in May 2014.

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