July 2021 MTP Day 5- “FutureSex/LoveSounds” by Justin Timberlake

Wow this month’s plan is just packed with talented, beautiful people, isn’t it? Teen heartthrob boyband star turned Oscar nominated dramatic actor, Justin Timberlake, fits this month’s theme like a glove. While I most definitely will not champion his artistic accomplishments in the same way that I did Sinatra’s and Bowie’s, I’m happy to express how much I enjoy this fun album, and a number of acting performances that JT has brought us over the years.

Justin Timberlake was on television at the age of 11 on a game show called Star Search, which he did not win. Following Star Search young JT appeared on The All New Mickey Mouse Club alongside Britney Spears, Ryan Gosling, Keri Russel, Christina Aguilera, and JC Chasez, who would become bandmates with Justin later on. At the age of 14 JT joined a boyband called *NSYNC that he would stay with for 7 years before leaving to focus on a solo career in 2002. In recent years, Timberlake has been more active in making movies than he has making music offering his talents both as a voice actor and a leading man in live action movies. Some of his most notable film performances include his portrayal of Sean Parker in The Social Network, being the lead actor opposite Mila Kunis in rom-com Friends with Benefits, and of course, voicing Branch in Trolls. While JT isn’t exactly Brando, you gotta admit, he’s not a terrible actor by any means. He’s had to carry comedies, offer support in dramas, and voice king Arthur in Shrek the Third, so he’s definitely got range. At the end of the day, though, he never could’ve gotten his foot in the door to start acting seriously if he hadn’t become so famous as a musician, and this is a music blog. Today we’re going to dive headfirst into the sophomore effort of Justin Timberlake’s solo career, and probably the worst titled album I’ve ever written about: FutureSex/LoveSounds.

As bad of a title as it is, Timberlake doesn’t mislead the listener at all. The majority of this album’s hour long runtime is dedicated to songs primarily about love, sex, or some combination of the 2. There are the occasional deviations from this theme though like “Losing My Way”, a narrative song about a man whose addictions and lack of ambition have ruined his life. Outside of that, Timberlake’s lyrics are mostly pedestrian, fitting of the pop-radio scene of the time. JT was, and is, a good singer though and each time I listen to this album I kind of forget how high that guy could sing. The real key for the vocals, however, was being able to come off as confident and sexy; really make the listener believe that this guy singing exclusively about women could actually get women. Having some understanding of who Timberlake is helps, but I’d say that, for the most part, I buy it. Yeah this guy sings really high, but he’s got the confidence, and that’s really what matters.

The real reason to listen to this album has very little to do with the lyrics or the vocals. The reason you turn on FutureSex/LoveSounds is for the music of it, the instrumentals, the high levels of production and the interesting, bold sounds that they were able to produce. Timberlake was more inspired by the sounds of rock and roll when making this album and would later say that while he drew heavy inspiration from the likes of Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder on his first album, he pulled more from David Bowie and Prince on his sophomore work. Bowie and Prince are 2 interesting names to list, and they feel appropriate enough given the wide range of styles and sounds present on FutureSex/LoveSounds. It isn’t really a rock album at all, but the influence is there alongside R&B, soul, funk, rap, and more which all fuse together for an interesting and diverse listening experience. Pretty much the whole album is easy to listen to despite being somewhat experimental, and I find that to be highly impressive. At the end of the day, though, this is another album that’s just fun. Put it on, remember how catchy those singles are, enjoy the album tracks in between, and then put it back on the shelf for a while. And if you don’t think that “SexyBack” or “What Goes Around… Comes Around” are excellent tracks, then maybe this album just isn’t for you. But for most of us, I think today will be a fun one.

Thanks for reading, stay sexy.

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