Justin Timberlake – FutureSex/ LoveSounds (2006)

I think this is why I skipped out on law school.

I’ve argued for many people in my life, but there exist an elite few that are simply indefensible. Justin Timberlake might be one of those people. If your history of decision-making includes blonde cornrows and sequin jean jackets, I can understand a level of doubt. But even Miles rocked the wet curl for a minute, so I think it's safe to say that sometimes the music supersedes the persona.

Timberlake's quirky entrance into the pop arena builds a cavalcade of arguments against his insertion into the longstanding canon of musical brilliance. From choreographed dance steps to matching boy band ensembles, his career was manufactured with all of the bubbly imagery of Disney Channel original movie. But this, of course, all changed. Because FutureSex/LoveSoundswas one of the greatest pop albums in the last 25 years.

For the few of you still reading, as I assume most got lost in the potential hilarity of that last statement, I want to first give credit to the inspiration for today's discussion.

While comical in nature, there is a validity to proclamations of JT's greatness and subsequent sophomore release. FutureSex/LoveSounds is a masterfully crafted piece of work that goes far beyond its contemporaries. Unlike most pop endeavors of its era, FutureSex/LoveSounds has a legitimate structure, defined by an actual continuity—both musically and conceptually. This isn't the amalgamation of the best ten or twelve songs recorded in a given session. This is an actual project. It has a strong foundation with heavy layers.

Naturally, we're well aware of the singles. However, this is simply the facade. Situated within are these understated interlude that hold the structure together. Take for a example, the moment between “Summer Love” and “Until the End of Time.” They are standalone brilliant. And yet, a carefully placed transitions steals the show. “Set the Mood” is a two-minute engagement, but does more for music that most artists' entire albums. While your favorite artist is attempting to force feed you overindulgent manifestations of sexuality, Timberlake is reinvigorating the entire idea of the “slow jam” with a lush sincerity, exuding sensuality. There is nothing brash here, just a subtle injection of eroticism.

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In a supplemental role, this record speaks volumes to the sonic trajectory predominately helmed by hit-producer Timbaland. Together, the duo built soundscapes divergent from the syrupy sensibilities of Timberlake’s earlier days. Instead, we are presented with a lyricism, that even at its most playful, maintains a certain semblance of maturity, marking an experienced growth. This songwriting is built atop a variety of sounds absent from the pop arena at that time. In one instance, the listener is given a taste of auditory sophistication thanks to the assistance of prolific composer Benjamin Wright (“Until the End of Time”) and in the very next moment provided with an uptempo, horn-driven dance record (“Damn Girl”) featuring the likes of artist will.i.am. Timberlake explored a sound that was incredibly raw, in all of its conceptions, flirting with the synthetic funk of techno and pulsating bass of dance music.

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To many, “pop” is a bad word–a pejorative in civilized music discussions. It describes the diluted nature of music that floats comfortably in the mainstream. What many forget, however, is that Motown was pop music. Madonna was pop music. And Michael Jackson was, is, and will always be the King of Pop. FutureSex/Lovesounds was an incredibly popular album, but that doesn’t take away from its credibility. It follows a lineage that demanded consumers to only except excellence. It showcased pop music that wasn’t simply a watered down mix of claps and snaps, but instead a blended collection of musically articulate compositions. This was the potential of pop music, actualized. Hopefully, we don’t have to wait another five years to hear it again.


Written by: Paul Pennington

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Comments

Justin Timberlake – FutureSex/ LoveSounds (2006) http://t.co/y6vwT1r8

posted by K.lure (@Klurexperience) on 05.14.12 at 8:47 am

New JT has me getting high off my own supply… http://t.co/pbxIJTB6 #repost

posted by Paul Pennington (@paulpennington) on 01.13.13 at 10:17 pm
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