Before we start, what do people think of the updated Spotify? Why does it suggest bands to follow (all country artists, no less) and why to I have to follow people to see what they listen to? I’m already following the likes of Justin Bieber and Tenacious D against my will. And the lags. Outrage.
At least there’s still the music. This week I take on new albums from Justin Timberlake and Bon Jovi. Should you buy either? Let’s discuss.
Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience
The important thing here, if you can, is to temper expectations. No matter what you envisioned in Timberlake’s third trek, just know that this album probably won’t fit that paradigm. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.
We aren’t dealing with a Futuresex/Lovesounds or an NSync reprise here. This is a stylish re-branding of pop music that is unlike anything on the radio. That might not sit well at first with some listeners. Then consider the 10 tracks comprising the album’s hour and 10 minutes. That’s seven minutes per song in an age where 3-minute downloads are packaged for individual purchase.
With so much emphasis on so few tracks, these are more than just simple songs and each one deserves some exploration. Spoilers ahead.
“Pusher Love Girl” – Silky smooth crooning meets some trippy “I’m just a j-j-j-junkie for your love.” Note that starting an album with an eight minute track is usually taboo.
“Suit and Tie” – I can see why people don’t like this song. It has been polished profusely because it represents a lifestyle reserved for Illuminati meetings and NBA postgame press conferences.
“Don’t Hold the Wall” – Has an weird Arabian vibe with Timbaland adding some vocals. Not really the makings of a single.
“Strawberry Bubblegum” – I could have sworn this was Robin Thicke. There has to be some kind of sexual innuendo here.
“Tunnel Vision” – Personal fave. It’s got energy, adorable one-liners and indecipherable squeaks. It’s the album’s “My Love.”
“Spaceship Coupe” – If we’re comparing this to FS/LS, this is the “Until the End of Time” of the album. Only “Meh” track.
“That Girl” – Clocking in at 4:49, we have the shortest track on the album. Great southern blues with the assistance from the Tennessee Kids (whom you saw on SNL). Classy.
“Let the Groove In” – This song is basically a conga line waiting to happen. Avoid putting on party playlists at all costs. Great dance song for personal use, though.
“Mirrors” – We’ve been over this. Vintage JT.
“Blue Ocean Floor” – At first, this song sounded like a transitional/dream sequence filler, a la “Set the Mood Prelude.” After a few minutes, this becomes perhaps the most alluring track on the album, a vulnerable tranquility Timberlake has never done before. It ends and I want more.
Yes, The 20/20 Eperience is all over the place. And yet, even though it most likely doesn’t fit our mold of what we think a Justin Timberlake album should be, it has all the charm to bypass those predispositions and come out refreshing. No other pop artists would dare construct an album like this. But when you have the hype that snowballed during JT’s musical abstinence, you can do anything you want. Let’s hope those rumors that he was forced to make this album weren’t true and call it what it is: Art.
Bon Jovi – What About Now
This band has shared the stage with Metallica.
No one expected Bon Jovi to be “metal,” be we could have had another Foreigner or Journey keeping 80s synth alive. They used to ROCK:
Instead, something happened to them in the 90s and it was never the same. I blame These Days.
If you’ve kept up with this band for the past few albums, nothing has changed. Bon Jovi has taken that “Livin’ on a Prayer” mantra and applied into every song since, fighting for the everyman. I can’t really knock them for that, as stagnant as the music has become. It’s much like those blue-collar anthems that Bruce Springsteen and John Mellencamp have been churning out for years: You are worth it because you work hard; let nothing stand in your way. “Because We Can,” “What About Now” and “Beautiful World” should be enough to get you through a mid-life crisis. “Amen” is the love-it-by-default ballad and boy does Jon Bon still have pipes. It just won’t win over any new fans.