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ISSUE 116 VOL 8 PUBLISHED 11/8/2002

Timberlake's new album 'justified' by fans

By Byron Vierk
Staff Writer

Friday, November 8, 2002

Justin Timberlake, a former N*Sync member, pays tribute to the 1970s pop idol Michael Jackson as he channels the classic Jackson with (impeccable) pop sensibility in his newly-released hit album Justified. Justified is the album that Jackson only wishes he could still produce, and that is no small statement. Timberlake sheds the boy band baggage almost effortlessly, thanks in no small part to the expert beats and production courtesy of Timbaland and the Neptunes. The first song, Senorita, kicks off the album perfectly. Its mix of Spanish rhythm and Neptunes style is impossible to resist. The sing-along at the end of Senorita is a genius stroke of kitsch in a genre that had lost the ability to laugh at itself. From the get-go, it is obvious that Timberlake had the time of his life creating this album. It is hard to pick a standout in an album filled with pop gems. Cry Me a River, despite the horrid title, is a song one could envision Aaliyah singing, backed by a spiraling and claustrophobic Timbaland beat. Rock Your Body is pure Jackson style, complete with a disco Neptunes beat. Still On My Brain is a surprisingly listenable ballad, certainly better than any of the work Timberlake did with N*Sync. Last Night is danceable venom, a cold shoulder to a cheating lover. The song borders on cathartic, as Timberlake croons I remember/Last December/We were walkin holdin hands/and I was your Man/Can’t we just get back to that? One wonders if Britney Spears is listening. The truly classic track on the album is the marvelous Nothing Else. The beats are new, but true. The story is common, but expertly told. The chorus is pure pop fun, filled with Jackson style joy: “Theres nothing else that I have seen/Theres no getting around it or in-between/ Youre out of this world, but youre not green/ Look, you dont know just what you mean to me. The song is a quintessential slow burner, building to a brilliant climax of staccato rhythm and unbridled soaring crescendos from Timberlakes superb voice. With Justified, Timberlake proves his ability to create pop songs worthy of recognition. It is very easy to hate an artist like Timberlake, and even easier as a listener to write him off as just another swimmer in the pop music sea. The fact remains that Justified is a well-produced, and a surprisingly well-written album. Timberlakes lyrics are far more mature than his prepackaged pop beginnings would suggest, and his taste in producers is more than impeccable. Justified is enough to make even Jackson feel more than a little envious.

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