Released in 2002, 13 tracks, 63 min
Why Justin Timberlake’s Departure from *NSYNC was ‘Justified’ with his solo debut
Boybands were a big hit in the 90’s. Some of the big groups that emerged include Backstreet Boys, Take That, 5ive, Boyzone and NSYNC. As a young girl living in the Philippines, these bands normally go on a promotional tour in Southeast Asia first before they take the risk and gain confidence in serenading the hearts of potential fans in their home countries. I remember a young Justin Timberlake with his curly blonde hair singing and dancing with four other good-looking guys in the tune of “Tearin’ Up My Heart” in one of the noontime TV shows. That time, Backstreet Boys and a number of boybands have been to the country and this is yet ‘one of those’ groups. For me that time, they were too generic. Boybands of the 90’s are the whole package – they can sing, dance and have the good looks worthy to be posted in our room walls. It was also normal for every group to have that one person who really stands out because of the overall package. Backstreet Boys has the boy-next-door prototype Nick Carter, Boyzone’s Ronan Keating is truly the star and with NSYNC, it was the youngest but most talented member named Justin Timberlake.
There’s Something ‘Bout ‘Like I Love You’
I remember the time I first saw the music video of Justin Timberlake’s “Like I Love You”. It was midnight and I was with some of my classmates at home. We were scheduled to go on an Educational Field Trip in Manila. When Justin popped on the TV screen with his slick music video, we were just stunned. We saw the Michael Jackson influence right away and we ended up talking about how strong Justin’s first solo single was with that one look/listen to the single. We want more! Gimme us more!
CRY ME A RIVER: The Pinky/Stinky Break Up
His past as a Mickey Mouse Club member with the then pop princess rivals Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera kind of helped in boosting Justin’s profile as a pop star. Who didn’t say ‘awww’ when Justin and Britney were snapped in almost every music magazines and websites back then? The most iconic is the denim ensemble that they sported. For young fans, the Justin-Britney break-up is like destroying someone’s idealism about teen love. Yep, it doesn’t last forever. So what does a brokenhearted ambitious artists do when he wants to use the pain creatively? Write a song about it. To turn your suffering into something lucrative, shoot a music video that features a look-alike of your ex-girlfriend. Oh, the damage is gone so I guess I’ll be leaving. If I am not mistaken, this is Justin’s first collaboration with Timbaland. He might have lost his first love, but he definitely found a good partner in songwriting through “Cry Me a River.”
FROM MJ TO JT: Rock Your Body!
Did you know that “Rock Your Body” was initially offered to the King of Pop Michael Jackson? When he had a falling out with the producers The Neptunes, this disco dance tune fell unto Justin’s lap and the rest, as they say, is history. The music video shows that era’s Prince of Pop showcasing his dance moves. It kind of signifies that he is not completely letting go of his boyband persona despite the fact that he decided to go on his own.
SENORITA’s Inspiration in my Blogging Career
My #1 favorite track in the Justified album is “Senorita.” It is the 1st song in the official tracklisting and the 4th single to be released from the album. It is one of the songs Pharrell and The Neptunes created with Justin and it became a summer favorite worldwide. There’s something about that song that makes you want to dance and let lose in a subtle way. The song lyrics is a combination of something romantic yet naughty. Honestly, this song is one of the inspirations in registering my travel blog (www.senyorita.net for shameless plugging – please check it out!). What you need is real love if you can just be in my arms… Any senorita or single woman (or lazy lady for Filipinos) will surely be touched if they here a guy sing this out to her. The song is full of idealism about love and giving everything a guy has, which I just realized as I type this as a common theme in at least half of Justin’s songs in the album.
The Idealistic Lover Boy + Other Tracks
What I enjoy most about listening to Justified is the reminder of how young JT was when the song was released. He was in his early 20’s and is about to embark on an unfamiliar territory on his own. Thanks to his collaboration with The Neptunes and Timbaland, they were able to produce sounds that will soon be a blueprint for future male pop stars. The lyrics of his songs like ‘Let’s Take It From Here’ and ‘Let’s Take a Ride’ automatically brings me back to my high school days when I wished that my crush will sing or dedicate these songs to me. The former is a 6 minute song and listening to it at this age makes me smile on reminiscing how idealistic I was when it comes to love. Meanwhile, the latter reminds me of the *NSYNC song ‘Girlfriend’ and that is a good thing. Let’s just get away… Other tracks from Justified include a Janet Jackson collaboration entitled “(And She Said to Me) Take Me Now”, which honestly is forgettable. Let’s just say I expected something more from this partnership which could’ve delivered something bigger than what they presented. “(Oh No) What You Got” shows Timbaland’s trademark. It’s a good dance song for freestyle and hip hop dancers. It’s kind of like a prelude to FutureSex/LoveSounds and bring sexy back to the world. “Never Again” is the finale song which was written with Brian McKnight. This ballad is simple yet the genuine and raw voice of Justin is highlighted here. Why do I still feel this song is still dedicated to Britney Spears? You didn’t love me enough… For a launching solo album, Justified is a pretty strong one. This is a perfect example of surrounding yourself with the best team. If you work with people who understands your vision even if you’re just a newbie, you will be fine. Seventeen years has passed and Justin Timberlake is now considered as an icon in pop music. Going solo is Justified then!
Justified Expunges Justin Timberlake’s Bubblegum Boy Band Image and Helps Him Metamorphose Into a Bonafide Pop / R&B Artist with an Adult Following
When Justin Timberlake emerged as part of the boy band *N Sync in 1995 and as they gained massive worldwide success, it was clear that he had what it takes to make it as a solo artist. Only time was going to tell when that solo breakout was going to happen. You could say the band was still at the peak of their success when Timberlake released his solo debut album Justified – and it showed all the promise that Timberlake was already showing off as a younger performer. Justified brings him out of the teenybopper world and right smack into the world of adult music, working with top producers Pharrell and Timbaland who gave him that urban R&B sound that suits the image of an adult performer Timberlake was aiming for. Transitioning from a boy band member adored by millions of screaming teenage girls to wanting acceptance in the music industry as an adult performer can be tricky business but when it pays off, the dividends can be that good! Michael Jackson famously did it a few decades earlier – and one can see that the young Michael Jackson was just oozing with talent – it was a no-brainer he had to have a solo career. In a way, the same thing can be said about Justin Timberlake, who, if we listen to Justified was aiming for that Michael Jackson ‘sound’ and even ambitiously aiming for the prince of pop throne when the career of the king of pop at that time was slowing down. Justified was a solid debut for Timberlake not only because it managed to give him a mature image and erase that bubblegum boy band image he had for years – but it was also a portent of things to come in his future – as he aimed to make his music racier and more funky – one that defined a shift in the pop and R&B sound at that time.
Justified Was A Hit-Laden Album That Made Justin Timberlake the Heir Apparent to the Prince of Pop Throne
In my opinion, the song “Rock Your Body” is the most Michael Jackson-sounding like song in the album, and Pharrell certainly helped Justin achieve that vibe. It’s a great track and a personal favorite of mine. When I was attending hip hop classes at that time, this song and “Like I Love You” were big favorites by hip hop instructors so I practically danced to these songs for months as each instructor had his or her own version of each of the songs. It was fun to do and unleashed the creativity of the dance instructors here in Manila. It was also a great stress reliever for me, since those two Timberlake songs have that great bounce in them which really makes you want to get down and dance. The ballad “Cry Me A River”, produced by Timbaland, also sounded like a Michael Jackson song as Justin can be heard aping the way Michael sings especially in the chorus where Timberlake sings “go on and just” as the chorus “cry me a river” is sung. You can’t really fault singers if they are influenced by their singing idols – and Justin Timberlake was relatively young at that time – and still finding his voice as a solo act. In succeeding albums, he was able to cement the image he wanted to have and tie it in with the sound of the music he aspired for. This album gave him four top 40 hits (“Señorita” and “Like I Love You”) and two of them went top 5 (“Cry Me A River”, “Rock Your Body”). “Señorita” is a favorite of mine since it was the most different-sounding song in the album, with Pharrell engaging some tropical sounding vibe into the song – including a rousing sing-along in the end between the dudes and the gals. That idea would have been perfect in a concert where Justin can ask the audience to sing along with him. All these solid four tracks ensured that radio was playing Justin Timberlake for months.
Justified is a Treasure Trove of Well-Crafted Songs That Could Easily Have Been Hits
It helped a lot that Justin Timberlake worked with Timbaland and Pharrell in this album because he had the choice to pick from a bevy of songs which one to release and make a video of. This section will talk about the songs in the album that I like and which I feel would have done pretty well, if released as singles. First is “Take It From Here”, a track produced by Pharrell which has that wistful sound, a perfect driving song because of its deliberate slow groove. There’s a part in the song, which he uses effectively in the live video performance he had for a London audience years back. When he sings “I want to be your mother, wait”, he pauses at this part – and waits for the audience to shriek out aloud in delight, before he sings again “See what I see / And when you see that can't nobody hold you like me / 'Cause I love you”. Another Pharrell-produced song in the album, that I like is “Let’s Take A Ride”. It has a relaxed vibe to it and is actually an escapist type of song where Justin invites a girl to have a getaway with him – “Let's take a ride, on the country side / Let's just get away / We can spend the night, till the morning light / Let's just get away. That is an invitation that would be very easy to accept. Would you? The third song, “(Oh No) What You Got” is produced this time by Timbaland, and this one has that signature Timbaland sound where the rapper-producer sings in the track, calls Justin, Mr. JT, and has that Arabic-flavoured flute sound and that heavy recurring percussion beat that gives the song its pulsating rhythm. Here, JT naughtily asks the girl “Is that your hands, (your hands) Rubbing on me / If so (Girl) / If that's your hands, (your hands), / then tell me what you got for me”. Finally, the only song I picked which is not produced by either Timbaland or Pharrell is “Never Again” which is produced this time, by the R&B balladist Brian McKnight. It has the mark of McKnight all over it, including its piano arrangement and the way Justin sings it follows the way Brian would’ve sung it. It’s a welcome addition to an album heavy on beats and dance tracks. It’s also a refreshing way to end listening to this debut album of Justin Timberlake.
Official Music Videos
- Nov 04, 2002
- Teen Pop
- The Neptunes
- Scott Storch
- The Underdogs
- Brian McKnight
Justified is the debut solo album by American singer Justin Timberlake. It was released on November 5, 2002 by Jive Records. The album was written and recorded in a six-week period, during the hiatus of Timberlake's band NSYNC. For the album, Timberlake began to adopt a more mature image as an R&B artist opposed to the previous pop music recorded by the group. The majority of the album was produced by The Neptunes (credited as "Williams and Hugo") and Timbaland, and features guest appearances by Janet Jackson, Clipse, and Bubba Sparxxx. Primarily an R&B album, Justified also contains influences of dance-pop, funk, and soul music.Continue reading at Wikipedia...