I have a confession to make. A confession that I probably (hopefully) share with countless other males too afraid to admit it, I have a man crush on Justin Timberlake. It all begun with his music music, grew after SNL, and solidified after my perceived realization that he can appeal to everyone in various forms of entertainment. It didn’t start with NSYNC, although one of their later efforts, “Gone”, warranted a second listen. I was always a hip hop fan, almost exclusively, so when The Neptune’s laid down the beat for “Like I Love You” and The Clipse duo crushed a verse, I was hooked. His chemistry with Timbaland on countless collaborations was infectious and I was consistently impressed with what they brought to the table. Then, Sexyback and his “Futuresex/Lovesounds” album changed the game. I became a fan and shouted it from the rooftops. While the following list is not a personal favorites compilation, it is composed of songs throughout JT’s career that could make even the most vocal doubters applaud.
7. Dick in a Box
My reason for this inclusion is simple: it won an Emmy. This hilarious, “who knew JT could be funny?” SNL digital short was an instant classic and allowed Andy Samberg(!) to release an album with his group, The Lonely Island. And yea, it gave JT an Emmy…
The title track to JT’s sophomore-slump-killing album wasn’t a single but it demonstrated how fearless he had become. The beat gives off a futuristic vibe whose rhythmic drums never let up. Its a statement song that proclaims the new sound he brought to mainstream.
5. Cry me a River
This is the first entry, in what I consider, a trilogy that spans all three albums. Not only did “Cry me a River” earned JT his first top 10 single as a solo artist, but it also was the masses first look into the kind of music JT and Timbaland were capable of concocting. This bitter, breakup track was famous for its not-so-subtle target, Britney Spears, but also proved he could succeed without the boy band backing him up.
Although its the last song in my perceived trilogy, it ranks number four on the list. At age 32, JT’s love songs finally come full circle and Mirrors displays his matured, content demeanor at this point in his career. Timbaland again lays down the beat boxing canvas that breaks down with a catchy outro that the listener can ride out to. The formula is similar to Cry Me A River, but the results are a more meaningful, heartfelt claim that he has found what he’s been searching for.
3. My Love Ft. T.I.
The definition of a hit. Timbaland’s bangin’ kicks and claps allow JT to blast his way into the clubs and to the top of the charts. The chorus is effortlessly catchy and compliments the pop-like synths. I challenge anyone to resist the temptation of doing the “two step” to this song. T.I. provides a memorable guest verse as the two southern artists bridge the pop, R&B, and hip hop gaps. Even the video was impressive.
Sexyback came out of nowhere. We knew JT could produce a successful pop/R&B album with “Justified”, but when his first “Futuresex/Lovesounds” single dropped, it sucker-punched clubs, bars, radio, and iPods everywhere. Any doubts that JT couldn’t come back to the music world with something fresh and new were quickly silenced by the dance-infused drums and electric bass-line His bold choice to channel Prince and David Bowie made everyone do a double take and produced a catchphrase that people still use. “I’m bringing sexy back!”
1. What Goes Around…Comes Around
What Goes Around…Comes Around is the quintessential Justin Timberlake song. The singers 3rd straight number one single from “Futuresex/Lovesounds” is also the 2nd entry in the trilogy along with Cry Me A River and Mirrors. The soft voice and personal storytelling create a mesmerizing tune to prove that pop songs can have some depth and meaning instead of cookie cutter throwaway singles. Timbaland’s driving beat produces hypnotic melodies that come alive with the help of some epic strings. Oh, and the “second song” toward the end of this 7 minute and 30 second classic could be another single on its own.
There you have it. The top 7 Justin Timberlake songs. Don’t forget to check out “The 20/20 Experience” this Tuesday.
Top 7 List by Derek Raimondi