Trying To Get To You

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Virtual Sex

When Justin Timberlake's Justified came out in 2002, I, of course, paid it no mind initially. Being the rock snob that I was, I couldn't see why so many people were paying attention to it. Wasn't this the guy that was in N'Sync?

So I was pleasantly surprised by the album. As pop albums go, I thought it was pretty damn good, and if it was an album of surface pleasures, the pleasures ran pretty deep and repeated themselves well after many a listen. "Senorita," "Like I Love You," and "Cry Me A River" were all great singles that had a real spirit about them that made me think that this guy was a real talent who would continue to grow. So far, I've been wrong about that.

I've had Timberlake's new record, FutureSex/LoveSound for the past couple of weeks and I've almost taken aback by how disappointing it is. "B-level Prince" is how a friend described it to me, but "C-level Prince" is more like it. It's a record that exists only in the world of priveledge that it was created in - the world of clubs and super V.I.P. areas, where access is only granted to the famous, the wealthy and those that service them - and it's about as deep and rewarding. Timbaland's production doesn't feel tired, it feels exhausted; obviously in a Giorgio Moroder phase, he's looking to European techno for inspiration, and it's just not happening. (Nor are all the hip-hop cameos - if any marketing ploy has begun to feel totally played, it's this one.) It's light on the melody...and the beats ain't happening either.

FutureSex/LoveSound is about, well, sex. But it comes off like a facsimile of the real thing. When Justin sings about wanting to be some woman's slave, the results not only feel inauthentic, they're downright laughable. Sex is hot when there's you get below the surface of a person, finding out who they really are and what they want, and they you. The sex on this record never even thinks to get to a place like that - everyone is too busy looking in the mirror and thinking about how fabulous they are to concern themselves with the person they're with. Narcissism, despite what it's adherents might think, isn't sexy.

This is an absolutely terrible record.

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