LAS VEGAS, NV - SEPTEMBER 18: Singer/actor Justin Timberlake arrives at… (David Becker / Getty Images )
1.5 out of 4 stars
At least Justin Timberlake's “The 20/20 Experience: Part 1” provided some stylistic variation between tracks like “Suit & Tie” and “Mirrors.” On “Part 2,” JT’s lost in his own reflection.
On the second and final installment of “The 20/20 Experience,” Timberlake's wrestling with many of the same themes from “FutureSex/LoveSounds”: hot sexy sex, heartbreak, drum machines and true love. But that album came out in 2006. In the time JT was gone from the music world, he’s become bros with Jay-Z, shot movies with David Fincher and Ben Affleck and shaken those omelet hands on “SNL.” For the record: I am not hating on the omelet hands. “Bring it on in to Omeletville” is one of the best lyrics ever to be followed by jazz hands.
But the multi-talented icon also fell in love for real, broke up with the girl of his dreams, then found her again and supposedly is living in wedded bliss with the former Ms. Biel. So why do most of the songs on “Part 2,” with lyrics like “’Cause I got you saying ‘Jesus’ so much it’s like we’re laying in the manger,” sound like the gross lines batted around at your neighborhood Big Ten bar? You’ve gotten into the panties, dude—it’s time to show us a real relationship.
Justin's music, however, could use some simplification. Since the guy's now potentially recognized by young music fans (who may not even know N'Sync!) more for his TV and movie endeavors, perhaps he feels he must prove his status as something even more than your average pop star. So on the entire “20/20 Experience” he does things bigger and hopes it counts as serious artistry. The songs on “Part 2” run an average of more than 6 minutes. One, “Only When I Walk Away,” is 7 minutes, 6 seconds long, and repeats some version of the phrase “when I walk away” 35 times. These tracks are so long that you think they must have ended 3 minutes ago. Then you check and there are STILL 4 minutes of “True Blood” left. Each song is a wall of the exact same sounds, over and over.
Speaking of “True Blood”: This song is terrible. It runs for 9 minutes and 32 seconds, which is probably how long Justin spends staring into his own eyes in the mirror each morning. And the only reason to even call a song “True Blood” in 2013 is to draw Sookie Stackhouse fans into your band of merry groupies.
From a fiscal standpoint, there is every reason for “Part 2” to exist. From an artistic standpoint, though, there is no reason for “Part 2.” Justin hasn’t done anything new from “Part 1” and in fact has backtracked into a sonic rut.
If JT really had employed 20/20 hindsight when staging his comeback, he would have realized there very easily can be too much of a mediocre thing.
Also, now I really want an omelet.
In concert: February 16 and 17, United Center
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