March has not been a good month if you don’t like Justin Timberlake. Even people like me, who generally like the former N’SYNC-er are experiencing a little JT fatigue. He’s seemingly everywhere.
Technically, this media blitz really started in January, when a mysterious countdown clock appeared on Timberlake’s website and this fairly anticlimactic video was posted:
Three days later, Justin Timberlake officially announced that 7 years after bringing “SexyBack” and a mediocre at best attempt at a film career, he was ready to release a new album. A new single, “Suit and Tie” featuring Jay-Z was released. Reaction was mixed. I didn’t love the song at first, but after repeated listens it has really grown on me.
February brought a Jay-Z/JT performance at the Grammy’ as well and the announcement of a 12 city co-headlining stadium tour (I will be at the first Yankee Stadium show – YAY!).
In March, the Timberlake publicity machine really went into high gear. Justin hosted Saturday Night Live for the 5th time on March 9th, though I must admit that I didn’t think this show was as good as some of his other performances. I don’t necessarily knock him for that; SNL has been slumping along as the ghost of its former self for several years now. The sketches and writing just aren’t that funny anymore, regardless of who appears in them. There were only a few sketches that made me laugh at all; “It’s a Date” really wasn’t all that hilarious, but it was nice to see JT reunite with Andy Samberg as well as the unexpected return of Steve Martin and Dan Aykoryd’s “two wild and crazy guys.”
While it was nice to see so many familiar faces, I thought the “Five Timers Monologue” wound up being more awkward than anything else.
The only other thing memorable was Justin’s alleged swipe at Kanye West, who has been acting the fool lately (not all that surprising; I think this is Kanye’s default setting). Timberlake changed the lyrics in his performance of “Suit and Tie” from “Sh*t so sick got a hit and picked up a habit” to “My hit’s so sick got rappers acting dramatic,” which pretty much sums up Kanye. This seems like a pretty harmless little spat and since I don’t see this feud elevating to Tupac/Biggie territory, I think it’s fine that Timberlake responded.
Justin then followed up his SNL appearance with a week’s residency on his pal Jimmy Fallon’s show. Timberlake has been the musical guest every night this week and has also popped up in some of the skits. So far, nothing has come close to meeting the greatness of the Fallon/Timberlake “History of Rap” songs, though perhaps they are holding something back for tonight’s final show. The barbershop quartet version of “Sexyback” was fun:
And while this sketch of a young Justin and Jimmy at camp wasn’t hilarious, I also enjoy Toto’s song “Africa”:
This week iTunes also allowed people to stream Justin’s new album The 20/20 Experience in its entirety. I’ve listened to it a few times now and overall I enjoyed it, which is good as I assume he’ll be performing a lot of these songs when I see him in July. The song “Mirrors” kind of reminds me of something that he would have done during his boy band days and “Let the Groove Get In” has a kind of weird Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine vibe to it that just strikes me as an odd choice. But overall, the more I listen to The 20/20 Experience, the more I enjoy it. Not as good as Justified or FutureSex/Love Sounds, but better than I honestly expected.
The month-o-Timberlake will conclude on March 19th when The 20/20 Experience will finally officially be released. That night at 8 pm, the CW will air an hour long special Target Presents The IHeartRadio Album Release Party With Justin Timberlake which will feature performances, interviews and, presumably, lots of shilling for Target (Target is also having a big month, as they were prominently featured in last week’s episode of Cougar Town). I’m not sure how much more there is to reveal about this album and with all this buildup, it would be very easy for it to fail to meet the unnecessarily inflated expectations. This all seems like a bit much – he recorded some songs, not found a cure for cancer.
So if you are beginning to suffer Timberlake exhaustion like I am, the end is hopefully in sight. I’m eager for things quiet down for a bit so I can get properly excited for the concert this summer. I like Timberlake, but it turns out in mostly smaller doses. I honestly can’t imagine any pop star or band that I would want to see this much in such a short amount of time.