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Lack of fresh material makes Timberlake's 'Experience' a snoozer

Jive

By Gregory Hicks, Daily Arts Writer
Published October 4, 2013

Excess will be the undoing of Justin Timberlake. The suave pop and R&B singer isn’t the first big name to relentlessly release material — a common critique or praise of the dynamic Barbadian pop singer Rihanna — but Timberlake’s work is far too monotonous to be generated in surplus. The 20/20 Experience was about twice the length of a standard album, and The 20/20 Experience — 2 of 2 is even longer than its 70-minute counterpart. That’s nearly four albums’ worth of material within the same seven months. Perhaps Timberlake is eager to fill in the gap for his six-year music hiatus.

At the very least, work with somebody — anybody — other than Timbaland. This will be Timberlake’s third album entirely produced by the celebrated hip-hop producer, and those who don’t verse themselves on their music history are doomed to repeat it. Artists who cling to the same producer will preserve the sound they’ve come to be known for, but shorten their musical shelf life in doing so. Grungy pop artist Ke$ha encountered this dilemma in 2012 after gluing herself to Dr. Luke for four years, when Warrior massively undersold.

There’s nothing to be said about The 20/20 Experience — 2 of 2 that couldn’t be said by describing The 20/20 Experience. Seems like an obvious statement, given the titling, but why not just opt for a re-release? Artists like Lady Gaga experienced immense success with their re-releases, such as The Fame Monster, despite having a new number of tracks that could’ve constituted an entirely new record.

Each song on The 20/20 Experience — 2 of 2 was created simultaneously with the tracks from The 20/20 Experience, making it a recipe for a second-hand piece of work. It’s essentially a collection of every song unworthy of Timberlake’s musical hiatus return six months ago. Releasing unused goods is common practice for artists, but once again, typically done on re-releases or EPs.

Drake spices up the collaborations a bit on “Cabaret,” but another Jay-Z-Timberlake tag team on “Murder” only serves to highlight JT’s predictability. Surprisingly, “TKO” — one of the album’s most watered-down, beat-oriented tracks — was chosen as the record’s second promotional single.

Sadly, most of its tracks aren’t worth any detailing, aside from the lead single, “Take Back the Night,” which comes as a combination of Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall era and Jackson’s single “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ ” from his Thriller days. Though, debuting in the Top 40, the single performed poorly in contrast to his last few releases. Timberlake may be taking back the night, but he should consider taking back the album instead.