Even in a boy band, Justin Timberlake awkwardly showed signs of wit. "Pop" by N'Sync had some funny, self-aware parts in the video. No, I never bought any N'Sync songs. I confess, under duress, to buying "I Want it That Way" by Backstreet Boys: a pinnacle of the Max Martin formula! The enigma about "that way"! During "Pop" there were already rumors about N'Sync members splintering off, commencing the inevitable "Now I'm a solo teen idol with a boner" phase. Oh, the heap of bodies lining that path. Don't look. Walk on.
I eyerolled when Timberlake's Justified album was released. Ugh. Does it come with a packet of Axe Body Spray, the external douche for douchebags? Whatever. Ignored the first few singles. Then I started liking "Rock Your Body" (video warning: Timberlake's facial hair tries too much in the "Imma man" department. Cf: DiCaprio, Leonardo). A well-produced tribute to Michael Jackson's Off the Wall album, with Janet Jackson in the backing vocal. Okay, at that I nodded a little cred Timberlake's way. Also heard Howard Stern confessing to liking the album. Hurm.
Then "Señorita" came out and seemed to prove all the over-the-top Axe Body Spray milieu I feared. Especially the call & response at the end.
Then, although it had already been released, I gave a closer look/listen to "Cry Me a River". Like the rest of the world, I initially saw the video and thought "Ah! Justin's mad at Britney. He's got an angry edge. That's a lot of venom given they both told us over and over they were virgins. Whatevs." But then I realized it was THE Timbaland in the video, and that he must have produced the song. I like Timbaland's work with Missy Elliott: he has a good ear, daring, and the confidence to be funny in a field of dour faces.
Timberlake was an utter chickenshit during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, acting as if it were an accident and leaving blame on Janet Jackson. The cue for tearing at Jackson's dress was "I'll have you naked by the end of this song." The moment was deliberate. Shame on him also for causing the phrase "wardrobe malfunction" to be added to our pop culture lexicon. But, worse, was the media and government fines imposed because of the shock, SHOCK that we mammals have mammary glands. The rest of the world laughed at our puritanism and prurience. Again.
Years pass. His album FutureSex/LoveSounds is released. It's a full-on Timbaland production. They have great rapport. I bought the whole album. Interesting, solid stuff. No wisdom within it, but catchy and melodic and fun.
When punchy one night with friends, "Sexyback" came onscreen and I changed the refrain from "Go ahead be gone with it" to "Go hippie gone wigga." It summarizes the life path of many of us males grown in hippie-strong Eugene, Oregon. That's still what I think of when it plays.
I have considered taking a sample of the "Ya!" that ends each lyric to play in my real life to punctuate every sentence.
"Do you have any more wheat hot dog buns?" (Ya!)
"No, I'm not interested in giving money to the University Alumni Association." (Ya!)
"Will you PLEASE pick up your juice bag straw wrapper?" (Ya!)
Seven(ish) years later a new Timberlake/Timbaland album is en route. I'll buy it on faith.
A few whiffs of Axe Body Spray emit from the computamer/phone-amajig in the new official lyric video for "Suit and Tie" the lead single for the upcoming album. "Lyric" videos are a new-ish thing where the artist doesn't promise to have much in the way of visual production effort, but does provide a relatively accurate transcript of the lyrics onscreen. I appreciate the anti-art of emphasizing vapid lyrics by making them visually prominent.
And am I now, in 2013, rehearsed to karaoke "Señorita" at some point, including the call & response? Yup. Le douchebag? C'est moi!
Hippie gone wigga,