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Let’s Talk About “The 20/20 Experience”

Written By: Colleen - Mar• 12•13

Justin-Timberlake-2020-experience-albumcover

In case you haven’t heard by now, Justin Timberlake’s new album, The 20/20 Experience is streaming for free on iTunes right now, ahead of it’s March 19th official release date.  If you pre-order it now, you’ll get the track “Mirrors” instantly.  I checked it out last night.  I’m really awful at writing music reviews.  That’s why I pretty much never do them.  I tried to write something smart-sounding about every track while I listened to it last night, but just couldn’t come up with much more than “another smooth, retro/R&B sounding track” or “this one is more classic JT.”  Ugh, I know.  I’m sorry!  If you want to check the album out for yourself on iTunes, here’s the link to it: http://www.itunes.com/JT.

While The 20/20 Experience is not quite as good as FutureSex/LoveSounds, I still liked it a lot.  [Note: Man, does JT love his /’s or what?]  I know that doesn’t mean much coming from a girl who includes Britney Spears’ “Toxic” as one of her favorite songs, but there it is.  I found it to be a solid album.  Generally, I judge music based on one of two things:  1. Lyrics; 2.  Do I want to listen to this again?  I usually only get a “yes” on both if it’s a Fiona Apple album, haha.  Joking aside, for my listen-through of 20/20, I applied the “Do I want to listen to this again?” test.  On most of the songs, the answer was a yes.  I then did the, “Could I put this on a playlist?” test for each song – again, more “yes” than “no” answers.  So there you go, ladies and gentlemen.  On that basis alone, I recommend that you check out The 20/20 Experience!

JustinTimberlake-2020experience-tracklist-cropped2The are 10 songs on the album.  Each one is a good 6-7 minutes long.  It starts off with “Pusher Love Girl.”  It has a very MJ/R&B feeling.  Just like with “LoveStoned/I Think She Knows (Interlude)” on FutureSex/LoveSounds, this song changes direction mid-way through with its own little interlude.  I love the Old Hollywood feel of the intro music.  It sets the tone for the rest of the album.  “Suit & Tie” is up next; I know S&T has JT fans divided, but it was on a small playlist got me through hours of intense work the past 2 months, so I have love for it.  The third track, “Don’t Hold the Wall,” departs a bit from the R&B style of the first two songs.  “Don’t Hold the Wall” is a bit funkier, with more pop-sounding dance beats.  It’s more along the lines of a song you’d hear on a previous JT record.  Track 4, “Strawberry Bubblegum,” is another smooth song that’s full of falsetto and cheesy lyrics.  My 15-year-old heart wishes that “Strawberry Bubblegum” is a wink wink nod nod to Britney.  It features a nice interlude midway through that works just as well as something on FutureSex/LoveSounds.  I think I like it better post-interlude.

The next two tracks are my least favorite ones.  I can’t decide if I like “Tunnel Vision” because it’s another solid song or if it’s because it sounds a lot like all the other songs and just fits in with the listening experience.  I can’t say I don’t like it; it just doesn’t stand out as much for me.  I’m still moving my head with its beat as I type this, though.  So it’s got that going for it.  “Spaceship Coupe” is up next.  The lyrics for this song are right on par with Katy Perry’s “Extraterrestrial,” haha, but it almost reminds me of an old ‘N Sync song.  I enjoy this one, cheesy lyrics and all, but I’m not sure if it would make a playlist.  I’m also not sure if that’s supposed to be an alien orgasm or not in the background during the interlude.

We get back on track with the next song, “That Girl.”  JT and the Tennessee Kids put on another old school sounding R&B-style love song.  I hope this one is a single because it may be my favorite on the album.  “Let the Grove Get In” is also a favorite.  It has a great, funky beat and is going to go on a workout/cleaning/work mix.  It’s a really fun song.  The album’s 9th track, “Mirrors,” sounds the most like a current day pop song than any other song on the album.  It also sounds like a song that ‘N Sync might do today, haha.  The finale, “Blue Ocean Floor,” shows a much softer side of JT than we generally get.  Most Timberlake ballads sound like “Mirrors” does; this one is a bit of a departure than anything I can recall off the top of my head.  It’s a much more mature sound for him.  It kind of reminds me of a Radiohead song.  It’s quite beautiful.

Overall, The 20/20 Experience sounds just as stylistic as FutureSex/LoveSounds, only the entire album is more cohesive as a whole.  With the exception of “Suit & Tie,” nothing stands out as a song that was made for the purpose of being a single.  When you look at the album as one entity instead of ten separate songs, it really does fit together quite nicely.  I’m both impressed and relieved that I find this album to be so good.  I was so afraid I’d be disappointed.  Mr. Timberlake, you are maturing quite nicely as an artist.  Bravo.

Anyone else out there give The 20/20 Experience a listen yet?  What did you think?

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