2013 has proved to be an enormously successful year for musician Justin Timberlake — and for pop music in general — as he released his album entitled “The 20/20 Experience” to both American and international audiences. This year marks as the comeback year for Timberlake, as faithful fans patiently waited for another album following his sophomore “FutureSex/LoveSounds” back in 2007. The album proved well that Timberlake’s hiatus from performing did not affect his status in the music world, with both parts debuting at number one on the Billboard 200 albums chart, as well as peaking at many other countries around the world.
The first part of the “The 20/20 Experience” was released on March 15, 2013. Consisting of ten songs, with two bonus tracks added on by various retailers, the album is holistically quite a sound trip. For instance, all but one of the songs are over five minutes long, with the excitingly reeling opener “Pusher Love Girl” and the dance-oriented “Let the Groove Get In” stopping just a few seconds after the eight-minute mark. The songs on the album are described by many music critics as a mix of neo-soul music and older soul styles, while still managing to hook on to its listeners with a heavy pop influence. Celebrating the snappy gentleman lifestyle, “Suit and Tie,” the first single off the album, features hip-hop rapper Jay-Z as the only musical guest and is arguably the most mainstream radio-friendly. The small success of “Suit and Tie” seemed very calculated as it was released as a promotional single approximately four months before the album release.
However, the second single “Mirrors” truly rewound the spotlight back on Timberlake. With hand claps and guitar melodies reminiscent of the sounds of “FutureSex”, Timberlake truly redefines the concept of professing your love to a significant other. While all the songs the album are enough to keep avid listeners constantly blasting the system, a standout track is the mysterious “Blue Ocean Floor.” The lyrics are possibly the most distinct out of the rest of the album, as Timberlake visualizes: “20,000 leagues away, catch up to you on the same day. Travel at the speed of light, thinking the same thought at the same time…”
Released on September 27, 2013, “The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2” included 12 songs and also had two bonus tracks just like the first part. “2 0f 2” has been described by critics as a supposed supplement of the first part, with some songs not actually necessarily adding up to the so-called “Experience.” Songs such as “True Blood” and “Only When I Walk Away” gave mixed reactions from various media outlets, saying that they were “too long and excessively unfocused.” Some highlights however are the heavy-drummed “TKO” and the first promotional single “Take Back the Night.” “TKO” sounds similar to Timberlake’s first commercial solo effort “Justified”, while “Take Back the Night” incorporates yet another new sound. It is influenced by discotheque elements and classic R&B.
As a whole, “The 20/20 Experience” provides something for everyone. It gives throwback sounds and compositions that allow most of Timberlake’s older and long-standing fans maintain interest in his music. However, the albums also introduce new elements and aspects of songs and instrumentals that can attract a new audience. It certainly is a fresh and reassuring reminder that pop music is not all that “bad,” despite numerous critics and people that say otherwise. “20/20” has the potential to even be a significant pop release in years, and it can keep crowds of new and old JT legions dancing and simply jamming out for a long time.
“The 20/20 Experience” – 9/10.
“The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2” – 7/10.