Timberlake is back for the first time in seven years with “The 20 / 20 Experience” (2013). What does his new ‘vision’ for music show us?

“It more or less came out of me playing some of the stuff for my friends…and I’d say, ‘what do you think of this?’
And my best friend said,

‘THIS is music that you can see,’
and for some reason

Music video still - suit & Tie

– that stuck with me.”

JT - Studio

Timberlake is back for the first time in seven years with “The 20 / 20 Experience” (2013). What does his new ‘vision’ for music show us?


“Back in June of last year, I quietly started working on what is now, my next journey 
– with that thing I love called MUSIC.

The inspiration for this really came

out of the blue…
and to be honest, I didn’t expect
anything out of it. I just went into the studio and started playing around with some sounds and songs.

It was probably THE best time I’ve had in my career…just creating with no rules and/or end goal in mind
– and really enjoying the process.”

JT signature

Justin Timberlake
(January 2013, http://justintimberlake.com)

Justin Timberlake is taking a different marketing approach the 3rd time around. There is no need to wait any longer for “The 20/20 Experience. ” Justin is letting fans stream his latest, and possibly his last, album on iTunes for a whole week prior to the release of the album on March 19th (in the US), and
March 18th (in the UK).


The optical ‘experience’: But what does his vision
for “The 20 / 20 Experience” (2013) tell us or make us think about?


Source: http://kymx.cbslocal.com/2013/03/13/

Nicholas Simmons ‘VIEW’ of

“The 20 / 20 Experience”

06th April, 2013.

Profile - Nicholas Simmons

IT certainly has been a busy year for Justin Timberlake,
to say the least. And with an album sequel subtly announced by the man himself at his “20 / 20 Experience” launch party in Los Angeles earlier this March –  he clearly is a musical force you just can’t reckon with, in 2013. On top of that, he is headlining the
“Legends Of The Summer Tour” (you can buy tickets in this link!) 
in collaboration with rapper Jay-Z.
This is most definitely – in the fans view of the artist – a much needed and long over due return to what Timberlake is best known for and delivering every little now and then – his music.

forget the music – just for a second.

For me, what’s surprising most of all, well atleast so far in this year for Timberlake’s musical return – has been his efforts to strive considerably within his artistic and human nature (no, not Michael Jackson!!) to ‘give it back’ to the fans, and the likeminded  music lovers of his work . But before I explain ‘giving it back to the fans’, just take a glance at some of JT’s recent appearances this year. I really do admire him for his respect and dignity to give it back to the fans. That’s what we should all appreciate when it comes to music artists these days. Just the ‘giving back’ and the clear, hard effort that has gone in to his few televised performances, as for example, Timberlake’s debut performance of  the mysterious, and mystical  “Mirrors”, at “The Brit Awards” (2013).

Take a reflection:

Credits go to user thebritawards:

His nerves certainly may have got the better of him towards the start, as perhaps like at the Grammy Awards in America –  but singing towards the middle bridge and finale chorus – I think, he killed it for those last remaining minutes. His live voice is on par with his studio – and to me – you can’t beat that. When you can satisfy your audience both on the studio level and the live performance level – you know your on to a winning ‘experience’. Also, the live band – INCREDIBLE. It not only oozes quality and enhances the original with it’s trumpet horn arrangement – but just makes the song that extra bit quirkier!

Now before I begin – I also want to show you something. Something that I think – is where other artists seem to shy away from – or at least, don’t invest the time and effort for.

This is the part of:  ‘giving it back to the fans’.

You know, in this day and age, where we are surrounded by commercials and online media and constant products and services thrown us at – doesn’t it make you wonder – what about the person behind the screen? Who are they? What are they like? Are they just as simple and as normal as how the advert sells them out as? Well, just recently, Justin and his management set out to create, FOR THE FANS, a crowdsourced video. So, instead of JT just simply making a glorified, commercial advert for his new, recent single, “Mirrors”, on his own – he decided to surprise 20 chosen ‘JT superfans’ by walking in on a TARGET produced commercial of groups of the fans singing “Mirrors”. Such a great idea. It almost humanises JT. It goes to show he is much a human as everyone else.

Where you see these huge commercial global superstars in the past rise up to the peak of their fame and success, in some (but not all!) cases, these ‘superstars’ just don’t want to know or hear about their fans as much past a certan point of recognition – or, even, their creative input towards where the artist should diret themselves in the future – on both a visionary, creative and artistic level.
For instance, to sharpen their craftsmanship or showmanship. To better themselves in the industry. To top what they had previously achieved. Be it album sales, chart positions or even the content and direction of their  stage performances.

Because, I think, it is the fans who essentially make the artist to who they are, and essentially, WHO they become. In Timberlake’s situtation – what is ideal, and beneficial for both the artist and the fans – is that the advert serves as an intuitive, clever, publicity campaign, but also gives fans and spectators a candid, raw, spontaneous filming commerical shoot with some of, arguably, Justin Timberlake’s ‘biggest fans’.
This, I believe,  is certainly something he deserves much more credit for – far beyond where the music scene is concerned!

You can tell in their eyes they had so much fun making this. As did JT, to no one’s ‘surprise!’

 Enjoy this fun (and borderline ‘cheesey’ piece!)

Credits go to user justintimberlakeVEVO:

Let us look through the lens.

JT Cover

Timberlake’s recent music video for the single, “Mirrors”, directed by Floria Sigismond (“Runways”), premiered on Youtube Tuesday the 19th March 2013. In a bold move taken not to feature himself in as much as half of the 8 minute length long music video, Timberlake dedicates the piece to two people,
his “grandparents, who were married for 63 years before his grandfather’s death in 2012”.


The pairing are taken through their life generations, conceptualised in different ‘mirrors’ or reflections, if you will, of their lives, and tribulated love; painted out with as much artistic valued conception and conviction as, for comparitive example, the John Lewis advertisements, which UK viewers have the fortunate privilege of watching during the Christmas season. Notice the mystical fantasy and inspiration for Timberlake’s latest short film drawn very much from the optical illusory presented
iin the film adaptation (2005) of C.S. Lewis’ classic novel, “The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe.” 

Understand what I mean:

Credits go to user Fairygirl912:

Also, the John Lewis advert, entitled ‘She’s Always a Woman’ (2010), which is almost a complete emotional juxtaposition to the story presented in “Mirrors”, as seen below. We see two contrasts – a happy, ‘school sweetheart’ couple; presented up against the more disruptive relationship witnessed in Timberlake’s piece.

 However, at the core of each of these films, we, as the viewer, are presented with the ‘vision’ of a romantic couple throughout the generations:

Credits go to user optimoparker:

To “William and Sadie”.

Watch – but with an open mind!
Be patient – and you will understand more that way. It won’t all come at once!


as we can see,

JT is back.

Justin Timberlake is back with a new album for the first time in SEVEN years – and has already created an impact with his stand still number one spot on “the UK singles chart with ‘Mirrors‘ for a third week”
(as of March 17th, 2013)

Source: http://www.politicsballa.com/2013/03/justin-timberlake/no1-singles-uk-mirrors-keeps-third-timberlake-justin-week#eyGqFySHdsg8JrxY.99,

But , most remarkable of all, Timberlake has actually expanded his horizons whilst remaining absent from the music. Whilst pursuing an acting career, Justin now has a ‘boastful’ number of Hollywood acting parts under his belt, which include the blockbuster release,
“In Time” (2011) and the charming, witty ‘rom-com’, “Friends With Benefits” (2011), starring alongside the beautiful Mila Kunis, who, for most of you out there, will remember her mostly as the voice for the animated character, “Meg”, on “Family Guy” (1999 – present, Seth Macfarlane).

But, coming back to the music, JT is fresh on the music scene again, and with a very interesting
(to say the least!) creative marketing campaign for his highly anticipated release,
“The 20-20 Experience” (2013), as he titles it; launching a much more perceptive account of his career – which sets the mark as his “first album since 2006’s FutureSex/LoveSounds”.

(Source: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/earshot

To elaborate on the album’s strategy, documented on http://www.timberlake-justin.com/  – the new strategy Justin adopted for marketing the “20 / 20 Experience” was revealed recently in a Billboard.biz interview with the President of Timberlake’s record label, president/COO Tom Corson, of RCA Records::

“While it feels like he is everywhere, he has been going with less-is-more. The looks he has been getting have either been large events or strategic. He hasn’t been doing every TV or print opportunity.”

To further familiarise yourself with JT’s “20-20 Experience”, please watch this report from fuse!

Credits go to user fuse:


In a candid note to the build up the hype of JT’s comeback, Timberlake posted out a candid,
‘peek in to his soul’ note which gave fans an insight in to where he has explored as a music artist again, and where his new found inspirations for the new “Experience”, has, quite frankly, come from:

Album announcement - JT's Letter



The ‘fuzzy-ness’ of the image is the result of not having the 20-20 Experience I’m afraid …..apologies for that.

But fear not! Click above, or on the image! You will retain your ‘vision’, or Timberlake’s, at least, on there! 😀

So what does the album title mean? What are it’s messages to audiences? Upon independent research, I had uncovered that the meaning of ’20/20′ may in fact not come as a surprise to many. In simplified terms, according to Abby Willow, of Yahoo! Contributor Network, 20/20 vision is considered to be the best corrected vision, and is the vision that most people get their vision corrected to. It means that your vision is at the best capability”

(Source: http://voices.yahoo.com/what-does-20-20-vision-mean-8579837.html).

Further to this point, Timberlake clarified in a recent interview with Ryan Seacrest (American Idol) that the album’s theme much ties in with having a ‘clear vision’, with “music you can see,”  and just like that, ‘The 20/20 Experience’ was born.’.

(Source: http://popcrush.com/justin-timberlake-2020-experience-grammys/).

From what I can gather, each of the songs on the album take a clear meaning. To take a few for example – “Suit and Tie”, “Mirrors”. They both present literal things or objects. From that, the substance of the song is created – and clearly, Timberlake wants to get the message out VERY loud, and most importantly! – ‘clear’. In doing so, this album provides for an enlightening new ‘perspective’ for audiences to enter his world of a newly found, inspired, re-discovered artistic, musical and stylistic expression.

Take a look at the track list, confirmed by the man himself via his Twitter profile (@JustinTimberlake):

20 20 Experience - Track List

“The image served as an interactive experience to discover more, including a complete, hand-written track list for the release. See the complete list below. Several of the songs will appear familiar to New Orleans concert-goers, as the pop star debuted multiple tracks at a Super Bowl weekend show.”

Source: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/earshot/justin-timberlake-reveals-20-20-419087

So, from that, the notion of a clear vision to me, represents Timberlake’s idea of being a ‘Visionary‘. What a mouthful, you may be thinking. Well, what I mean is – an artist, who sets out a clear path for their future – their releases – and at the core of it all, their art. He clearly is an artist who likes to explore his creative juices and exercise them when and where appropriate. This is coming back to the whole idea of his marketing – I mean – take a look at his exclusive performance on The Grammy Awards 2013, debuting songs on the upcoming album, including the collaboration with the “99 problems” rapper, Jay-Z, which of course, was “Suit and Tie”. The fact that this was one of his first official performances in more or less four years almost served this performance on a plate to be one hell of a spectacle for fans and audiences alike.

Have a browse of the a pre-interview backstage explaining the subtle meanings behind the ‘vision’ of the album, and then, THE performance. The showmanship here is different and always challenging to what he has done prior in his career. He clearly seized this opportunity!

Credits go to user EEntertainment, and Johnny5tvHD:

But, coming back to the main passion – the reason as to why Timberlake was known – primarily as a ‘boy band pop star’ – (must be daunting for him to reflect on his musical roots, to say the least!), and now, considering where he has gone and IS heading in his multi-faceted career of acting, producing, and essentially, singing, he is certainly now not an artist to shy away from any extra opportunities in the industry to add to his impressive portfolio. He is almost morphing in to the respected stars of the likes of Will Smith, Jennifer Lopez, who, in their fields, have done a great job of maintaining their rooted talents as music artists, but have gone on to have ‘higher than modest’ acting careers


The ‘Fresh Prince’ and ‘Jenny from the block’ (above):

Two successful entries bridging the gap between
the roles of both established music artists and Hollywood actors,
and now, arguably, Justin Timberlake


Tell you what though – Will Smith – please come back with some fresh music! Can you imagine how big that would be! I am missing the Fresh Prince in my life, and in my headphones.
Bring back the ’90’s sound!

‘Summertime’ (1991), anyone? DJ Jazzy Jeff? Reunion?
One can dream, in 2013.

will and DJ jazzy jeff

‘Summer- summer- summer – time!’ : The songs of the ’90’s

But, as for other stars similar to this category, take a look at what “next movie” did in 2011! I don’t agree with every one on the list, however! Some are rather trivial….but see what you think all the same!

Source: http://www.nextmovie.com/blog/best-musicians-turned-actors/

  With two previous albums spanning over ten years, including his solo debut which saw the ‘breaking ties’ moment in his career with his former boy-band, N-Sync, “Justified” (2002) debuted Timberlake’s entry in to the music industry as a solo artist. After the great success of “Justified”, which included “an estimated $6 million deal with McDonald’s to help the fast food chain promote the new “I’m Lovin’ It” tag line”, the singer was well on his way to establishing himself as a highly successful commerical artist, who can write and perform highly regarded ‘pop’ music and, most importantly still retain that appeal to a broad range of listeners.


Take a look at the global “I’m Lovin’ it” advert, launched by Mcdonalds in 2003!

Credits go to user Filipe Augusto:

Taking a break off from the music front for four years, Timberlake , as many fans like to see it, brought “Sexyback (quite a bold statement in retrospect, don’t you think!), with 2006’s release of
Future Sex/Love Sounds”, co-produced by Timbaland (known for producing hits for artists by the likes of Nelly Furtado and 50 Cent) .

And for that, I seriously respect him, as I’m sure some of you out there may do as well. One thing that blew me away, was a song below, in this live performance taken from 2007, of
“Another song (all over) again”. His return did bring some pop classic and R ‘n’ B hits including
“What goes around…comes around” and “My love”, but to see Timberlake in an unplugged session like this is a true testament to his talent –  as not only a raw vocalist, but as an instrumentalist (playing the piano).

Put this one on the ‘chilled’ playlist:

Credits go to TheBluelegend26:

No matter what your pre-conceptions are of him as a person, or on a musical level, he certainly doesn’t just manufacture or put ‘pop songs’ out there for the sake of a quick #1 hit (except perhaps for when he was a part of his band, “N-Sync”), . Neither does he just sell his way through a route of commercialised music genres and cheap artist collaborations that create catchy, but fatefully short-lived, ‘only relevant at the time’ catch-on music.
In other words, disposable.

They wouldn’t be songs that go down in the history books, put it that way. And it is for that, which  I think sets Timberlake aside and puts him streaks ahead of others in the industry, despite actually being out of it for some time now (2007- mid 2012). He was clearly observant though, and his moderately successful Hollywood acting career he’s pursused has more than likely taught him new ideas in terms of his image and artist brand identity to market himself.

Back to the point though – Timberlake is very much an artist, in my view, with a vision for QUALITY over quantity. Although a central mainstream artist, his efforts to channel his creativity in different realms, such as acting and producing definitely deserves him some extra credit, in that respect. Perhaps his experience, this time around, goes far and beyond just putting out musicfor the sake of it being out there, after having such a long break off in his music career.

I really admire his artistic vision and combined ethos as an artist; one who doesn’t just simply use his platform to launch a song purely for commerical gain or various other reasons, or to just storm up the charts with only a song that , although may be quick and catchy – actually in fact bares little or insufficient meaning as well as any artistic integrity with it. THAT’S where my admiration for him as an artist really hits the roof.

justifiedfuture sex love soundsTHE 20/20 EXPERIENCE ALBUM COVER AND TRACK LIST REVEALED!

‘What goes around, comes around’ (in the best sense!):

Setting out ‘visions’ of musical quality (above right) with past releases

Justified (2002), FutureSex/LoveSounds (2006),
and now, “The 20 / 20 Experience” (2013) 

However, something which Timberlake has also taken in a new direction this time around –  although still very heavily based in collaboraton with “mega-producer Timbaland” (has been his choice for artistic freedom in writing his songs. As a result of a long six/seven year hiatus from his music career, 
Timberlake was able to return to the studio ‘as and when’ the moment felt right, which as he put it, was with “no rules and/or end goal in mind”



Take a look at a video JT posted on his youtube channel earlier in January (2013):

Credits go to user JustinTimberlake:

I mean, atleast from my experience, I can completely identify his sense of musical inspiration, given he is in the same field (but not exactly in the same league as some critics/fans state otherwise!) as the late
‘King of Pop’, Michael Jackson,
as far as musical inspiration and direction goes in to making an album work.

Just look at these two quotes together, and you will see what I mean. It’s a real shame other artists aren’t as independent and free flowing as these, not being constrained or controlled or pressured by the industry or outsiders. Genius. Take a read, of two quotes, one from Timberlake, and one from Jackson. And as eccentric as you may think their way of thinking is, it normally creates the most productive work out of it, as a result. One huge global popstar who broke music record sales, and transcended cultures and race to listen to his music, and then one – arguably – current, fresh, innovative pop ‘product’ of the latter, who has always had a ‘foot in the door’ in this today’s digital age, which of course includes Timberlake’s unique approach to marketing, sometiing he may have learned early on during his career with “N-Sync”.

Genius on both sides of the coin, however you may look at it:

Timberlake (2013):

“When we were making the record I said, ‘If Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin can do  10-minute songs and Queen can do 10-minute songs then why can’t we?’ We’ll figure out the radio edits later.”


Jackson (2007):

Credits go to user itsJustMeEllie:

Skip to 3:33 for the relevant quote!

“Ever since I was a little boy, I would study composition,” he told Ebony magazine in 2007 (via MTV News). “And it was Tchaikovsky that influenced me the most. If you take an album like Nutcracker Suite, every song is a killer, every one. So I said to myself, ‘Why can’t there be a pop album where every song is a killer?’


It’s crazy, isn’t it? 

I never thought two artists could be so similar in their thinking. I mean, of course, Jackson has always been a heavy influence amongst many pop artists in the 21st Century, including the likes of Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Usher and Chris Brown – to name a few – but it’s interesting to see where the ‘vision’ could go with Justin.

And on that note, I shall leave you with two video’s. One, being a very insightful interview on ABC which aired back in 2002 during the debut of Timberlake’s solo album, Justified (2002), and a rather funny performance of a song, called “pop”, ironically, from N-Sync on the MTV Music Awards, 2001, glorifying much of what ‘pop’ was and is, and it is just quite funny to look back on how the music scene has changed radically since then, escpecially where Timberlake has progressed in his artistry, from 2001 until now.

So now, we are all left to wonder in the loop, of how his ‘Vision for
“The 20 / 20 Experience” will now carry Justin though to the further stages of his career, this year, and far beyond.

Credits go to user Aleeepower:

Well Mr. Timberlake I will leave it here. All I have left to say is one thing – as long as you’ve got your “Suit and Tie”, “Im’a” leave this blog all on the floor tonight.

Credits go to user SiBeLL:

Timberlake is back for the first time in seven years with “The 20 / 20 Experience” (2013).
What does his new ‘vision’ for music show us?

Photo credits:









Categories: Music FeatureTags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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