Justin Timberlake-Take Back The Night

Apologies for the recent absence. It’s easier to be outdoors than indoors. Time to catch up with the releases of the last few days, and none are bigger than the first single from The 20/20 Experience, part 2.

Suit & Tie came with a little bit of an old-school vibe, and that carried through to one or two tracks on JT’s recent album. However, this time Justin’s really backed that vintage sound with this effort, channelling a throwback sound that lands pretty close to the Jackson 5/Michael Jackson’s early work. The funk-driven production is the primary component of this track’s retro flavour, with the bouncy melodies being eerily reminiscent of Michael Jackson’s Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough, whilst the sporadic string touches add a touch of classical vibrancy to fill out that soundscape. It’s hard to shake the impression that it’s a slowed down version of the aforementioned Michael Jackson single, and in truth that’s not necessarily a bad thing-it’s almost a cover without being a cover, and hence plays quite safe territory by evoking the fond nostalgia of the original, without ever directly replicating it.

The vocal work is solid throughout, with JT remaining fun and harmonic without being too overbearing, and hence allowing the distinctive production to breathe. Unfortunately, there are some Timbaland adlibs. Can’t that guy shut up?

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Jay-Z-Holy Grail ft. Justin Timberlake

jay z holy grail
Many are confused by this album’s release, so here’s some clarity: it was released via Jay’s app for Samsung phones today, and has hence leaked everywhere. Its official release is on Monday 8th. Clear?

So, for those avoiding the leak or without the app, here’s the track’s opening effort. New best friends Jay and JT come together for a solid start point for the album, boasting a production that switches through two distinct styles to good effect, though certainly not to perfection. Justin probably takes on most of the vocal duty here, opening with a great performance backed by a steady introductory performance that constantly threatens to explode the track to life; unfortunately, rather than building on that production’s mellow qualities, the track completely switches direction to a bassy, rather less grandiose beat. Jay arrives with that switch-up, delivering with a level of intensity suited to an opening track, but not quite with the lyrical dexterity he’s known for, whilst a badly-placed, poorly-used Nirvana sample breaks his momentum quite significantly. With that said, his second verse is rather more impressive, with his flow moving through the gears before cooling back down, though the track could probably do with being a minute shorter/with less JT at the end. It’s overkill, but finishes off what’s likely to be a track that’ll grow with more listens.

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Justin Timberlake-Mirrors (Video)

Having confirmed that his recently-released album was indeed a “part one” (with the sequel rumoured for November), Justin’s buzz couldn’t be any higher, and he follows up with a video for his successful single.

As mentioned in the audio review, the track’s got classic JT hallmarks, but with more lyrical maturity and feeling than previous lead singles. That lyrical growth is visualised perfectly here, with a story told of an elderly couple as they reminisce over their years together, with flashbacks interspersed with present-day footage for a dynamic video. The division between the two is technically impressive: the vivid colours and powerful lighting in the teenage scenes contrasts excellently with the dull colouring of the contemporary footage, whilst the less positive ‘young adult’ scenes fall somewhere in between as far as chromatics go. There’s an inescapable undercurrent of sadness throughout that grows as the clip evolves, and whilst it’s difficult initially to know exactly where that will lead, the ending of the emotional story is both rewarding and bittersweet.

The video then moves into textbook Timberlake fare, as he croons and swings amongst a plethora of mirrors, looking as suave as ever and generally offering a nice cool-down from the emotionally-intense scenes that preceded him. Very engaging watch, and though it comes in at over 8 minutes, it certainly doesn’t feel that long. Grab the album now.

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Justin Timberlake and Daft Punk-Suit and Tie (The Hood Internet Remix)

the hood internet
Disillusioned with the original version? Your day’s about to improve, as this is what it should have been. Daft Punk released a very brief (15 seconds, in fact) snippet of new music a short while ago, and the talents over at The Hood Internet have skilfully blended that into JT’s single for a very good rework.

It’s immediately apparent that the bright, funky synths of the Daft Punk production completely take this track to new levels of positivity. That’s not just down to the production itself either, as it’s equally down to their synergy with Justin’s vocals, as they’re now infused with an infectious energy that radiates across the entire soundscape, and hence moves this track into a new realm of likeability. That momentum-destroying Jay-Z verse is nowhere in sight either, and this is a remix that’s absolutely worth having.

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Justin Timberlake-The 20/20 Experience (Full Album Stream)

The buzz for Justin Timberlake’s album is about the shoot through the roof. Many expected this to come via MySpace (which of course, he partially owns), but iTunes seemed to have grabbed the the full stream for the upcoming LP, and thankfully the stream is available for iTunes users beyond the confines of the US too, which makes for a welcome change.

Having just fired the stream up myself, I can’t comment too much on the album’s contents, but the first impressions are pretty good, with a distinctly vintage style taking hold early on. You can pre-order the album at the below link too, which entitles you to get Mirrors early. Head below to do that, or just stream.

Justin Timberlake-The 20/20 Experience (Stream and Pre-order)

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Justin Timberlake-Suit and Tie (Four Tet Remix)

four tet
As far as I’m aware, this is the first remix from a major artist of JT’s comeback single, and for many will be rather more listenable. Truthfully, this is about as mixed as the original for me, but nonetheless it’s nice to have a refresh of the rather tiresome track.

Four Tet’s a great producer, and I’ve championed his work on here several times, but this production feels like one long intro. Whilst that’s just about acceptable for the first minute or so, before the brief lull, the sole introduction of a metronome-esque sound after that pause seems a little light on the ground and doesn’t really offer the pay off or depth you’d expect, both from Four Tet and the natural flow of the track. The track mostly continues in this fashion sadly, throwing in a few samples and percussion layers intermittently and in fairness, at around 3.20 things come to life much more. Whilst it still feels too thin on the ground to really close the track out, at least there’s some sense of progression. Not for me, but I’m sure many will enjoy it.

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Justin Timberlake-Suit and Tie ft. Jay-Z (Video)

I’m sure it’s been pointed out before, but a section of the hook repeats ‘sh*t tie, sh*t tie’. Unfortunate.

As per my previous audio review, the highlight of the track is definitely the more uptempo section of this, and the same applies for the video. The slow intro’s rather boring, showing JT mostly milling around, before the video steps up considerably with a lively performance of the trac accompanied by a couple of flashes of his great ability as a dancer.

The monochromatics, costuming, lighting and regular glimpses of live instrumentation all combine to add a vintage veneer to the clip, clearly an intended effect given the theme of his recent Grammy performance, and its an effective mechanism here in adding an organic touch to proceedings. It also does Jay’s verse a lot of favours, as given it seems to derail the audio’s momentum, the consistency of the video’s theme keeps it in line with the rest of the track and hence it feels much less out of place. A likeable visual that enhances the song well enough, and will certainly find favour with mainstream fans and outlets alike.

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Justin Timberlake-Mirrors

justin 2020
Many were unimpressed with Suit and Tie, but there’s no doubt the buzz for JT’s upcoming The 20/20 Experience hasn’t been impacted, and this single should help recover fans disappointed with the first single.

It’s much more pop-heavy, with Timbaland serving a production that combines his trademark clap-heavy percussion with strong synths, and an uplifting turn for the hook. It’s a classic pop formula, but as I read on Twitter earlier, when in JT’s possession it’s the sort of beat that can ‘revive Timbo’s status as a top-level producer’. As expected, the vocal performance is on point, with a couple of powerful, soaring sections that make this ideal for radio airplay, whilst the ending tacks on a slowed down section in the manner of Lovestoned/I Think She Knows. Both sections are filled with mature, warming lyrics to make this a mainstream favourite, and the whole package combines for a track right out of the old-school JT playbook with a grown-up twist.

Justin Timberlake-Mirrors

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Justin Timberlake-Suit and Tie ft. Jay-Z

Another act who decided to announce a comeback, with the announcement of The 20/20 Experience album, due for release at an unnamed point this year.

Hooking up with his frequent collaborator (well, back in 2006 anyway) Timbaland, it’s a reunion of sorts that promises much, but ultimately fails to deliver. The track opens almost bizarrely, wrongly combining a dark, creepy fairground-esque production with JT’s pop rap-style hook, before launching into something much more likeable, that being a jazzy production comprised of horns, chunky percussion and inclusions of several softer elements from key hits to light electronic effects. There’s definitely something likeable about the production here, with an uptempo feel that almost evokes images of a lively Vegas night, whilst JT’s vocals are in good form and infect that beat with even more positivity. However, the structure of the song seems very loose at best, and the track’s movement back down to the slow beat for Jay’s verse kills its momentum, whilst his verse itself drags a little. Cut off the start and the section shortly before, after and including Jay’s verse and it’s good, but as it stands it’s not going to see much time from me.

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Jimmy Fallon, The Roots and Justin Timberlake-History of Hip-Hop

This is ridiculous and awesome. Fallon and JT (backed by The Roots) go through a medley of hip-hop classics (and a couple of non-classics…) superbly. JT’s always been a hip-hop fan, but even Fallon’s good with the classics and it’s really fun viewing. Brilliant stuff!

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Diddy-Shades ft. Lil Wayne & Justin Timberlake

Bit of a weird track, which perhaps signifies the direction Diddy’s next album Last Train To Paris is going to be taking. Lil’ Wayne on this track seems like a bit of a waste (you’ll hear what I mean when you listen to this song), but Justin Timberlake saves the day and makes this track weird in a good way rather than weird in a “wtf is this sh*t!?” kind of way.

Diddy – Shades ft. Lil Wayne & Justin Timberlake

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