I still don’t know what to think of Justin Timberlake’s musical comeback, ‘The 20/20 Experience’. Nevertheless, I have listened to the album so many times by now, that I can call it a work that deserves some serious attention.
In discussions on the length of the tracks on ‘20/20’ people often oversee the fact that JT also featured long tracks on his previous albums. It seems to be the work of producer Timbaland, who, with this length, finally bothers to show his skills again. He makes tracks like Suit & Tie and Mirrors move through different perspectives, but, less scientifically, he provides some pretty slick, recognizable beats again.
Check out this video to see what JT is all about. Also make sure to check the 5 parts of history of rap he did on Jimmy Fallon.
‘Smooth’ seems to be the best word to describe ‘The 20/20 Experience’. No matter the difference between songs like the calm Blue Ocean Floor or the more danceable Body Count, the focus remains on JT’s smooth singing voice, embedded in beautiful harmonies. The lyrics are smooth as well, but don’t have much to offer, though considered all the aforementioned I’ll take that for granted. Right now Dress On is my favorite track, but as my preference has shifted so many times I think I’m still not done with ‘20/20’.
Back in 2006 Robin Thicke released his track Lost Without U and while I was still in puberty, or maybe it was before my puberty, I noticed the sensuality in the track and while I got older I kept hearing the track every once in a while and I still fall in love with Thicke’s falsettos every time. Now, after some sort of hiatus, Robin Thicke is back with another sensual track though the sensuality is mostly in the lyrics, and not so much in the music. Together with two men of approximately the same age, Pharrel and T.I., Thicke delivered a fun song and though their biggest successes may be past them they still deliver quality, or at least a very fun video.
On Blurred Lines it seems like Robin Thicke lost a bit of his singing skills, while still singing flawlessly it seems less smooth and easy than it did before. Luckily he gets backed up by the legendary Pharrel, whose age doesn’t seem to matter at all and who’s having a great time in the video, and T.I., who delivers the necessary fun rap part that keeps the song from getting boring.
It’s been a few years since Autre Ne Veut debuted with his self-titled album in 2010. He was one of the first acts combining R&B music with other, more alternative genres, but the album sounded like one big haze. Now, with his new album ‘Anxiety’, Autre Ne Veut focused on his singing more ; his singing on his debut wasn’t really the centre of his songs but rather an addition to the music.
Autre Ne Veut already showcased in some live performances that he is a great vocalist and does this again on his new album; the singing is skillful and clear, with an incredible vocal range. But unfortunately his singing gets overpowered by the exorbitant production; most of the songs are really bombastic and blasts of synthesizers kill his beautiful carrying voice at times. The more empty songs, like Counting and A Lie, are the best songs of the album, these are the songs that Autre Ne Veut really shows his strength on as a vocalist without being overshadowed by the synthesizers and drums. Just like on his first album, Autre Ne Veut didn’t manage to find a good balance between his fantastic voice use and the production. Although ‘Anxiety’ is really worth listening.
Not even a month after the release of Suit & Tie, the comeback of Justin Timberlake, JT releases a second track from its upcoming album ‘The 20/20 Experience’. Mirrors is produced by longtime companion Timbaland and shows the two different sides of Timberlake in 2013. Counting over eight minutes Mirrors steps in the seemingly reborn tradition of lengthy tracks. Luckily, the song isn’t monotonous or boring, as it can be divided in two parts. The first part embraces the ‘old Justin Timberlake’, the ‘FutureSex/LoveSounds’-vibe, with the recognizable synths and beatbox-y Timbaland-beat.
The second part shows the ‘new Justin Timberlake’, sounding more like Suit & Tie. While the transition to this part is smooth, the contrast with the first part is big. The production is calmer, emptier and gives JT more space to showcase his distinct singing-voice. In the lyrics he even explicitly distances himself from ‘the old’ (“so now I say goodbye to the old me”) and moves on to ‘the new’. In this way, Mirrors could just be the key-track for ‘The 20/20 Experience’: combining the old with the new, taking the Rock Your Body Justin to 2013. I hope that’s true, I like the new JT.
BBC’s Live Lounge is a place where magic is made: a place where quality artist often come around to play a song of their own on the UK’s national radio, but, more importantly, they come around to play song that’s not theirs and change it to their style and create something new and interesting. A few weeks back for example, Mikky Ekko covered The xx, and around Christmas The xx covered Wham!. This time Jessie Ware is welcomed and she does something few may have expected: she covers Rihanna’s Diamonds brilliantly.
Not only does Ware show her undeniable class as a singer, she also shows the way in which she has created and developed her own sound throughout the years making it possible for her to take a well-known, maybe too well-known track, and still make it sound like her own. Accompanied by a bassist, a guitarist and a drummer the British songstress delivers a stunning minimalistic version of her “favorite pop song” of this past year, showing the core quality of Rihanna’s song too. My hopes are high for another album this year, but only time will tell if that’s going to happen, as nothing has been said about it so far and Jessie Ware seems to be touring permanently.