Justin Timberlake's "20/20 Experience": Worth the 7-Year Album Hiatus

There’s more reflected in the “Mirrors” on JT’s latest release, The 20/20 Experience, than just his love for wife Jessica Biel — as the album both picks up where he left off with Future Sex/Love Sounds and also expands past it, with an infusion of his cinematic journey in his latest sonic journey.


In a Q&A that ran in Rolling Stone, Timberlake addressed this journey, stating, “Now I can really paint a picture for people 'cause being involved in the film process, you get to see the writing change, you get to see the direction change, you get to see all those things change. But you get to see those things change and you go, ‘You can really do this with music, too.’”

And it’s clear when you listen to The 20/20 Experience that Timberlake is reflecting on the past musically — drawing even more heavily from the lines laid down by the music he listened to growing up like Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, and more — and romantically, with a cinematic storytelling flair. He's taken general themes of FutureSex and pushed it to the limits, with longer songs and love themes that expands the physical.

Take "Pusher Love Girl," for example:


Plus when Timbaland and Timberlake get together, there’s nothing like it. Timberlake in that same Q&A referred to how sonically the album takes listeners on a journey and is meant to be listened to from top to bottom. And the tour de force of promotion on NBC in the last week, between the stellar SNL hosting gig and "Timberweek" on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, has proven that the star isn't made to make a record ever year, but when he does push one out, it deserves our full attention.

Much in the way that movies have become shorter to accommodate attention spans of audiences, songs have seemed to shorten as well, but JT bucked this and decided to head for full song-scenes, luscious horn accompaniments , reminiscent of Wonder’s “Do I Do” to his tenor vocals in seven-minute journeys, a very King of Pop step to take. 

Another example: "Strawberry Bubblegum."


Or try "Let the Groove Get In."


If you haven't streamed it on iTunes yet, do it now. Or just wait until March 19 when it drops to snatch it up for good. 

How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Jazmine Woodberry

Jazmine Woodberry is a communications professional working in nonprofit communications, journalism, and technical writing and editing. As a professional writer, she has had work published by Thomson Reuters, The New York Times Co., the Huffington Post, the Arizona Republic, the Chicago Tribune, Gourmet News to name a few. When not writing for work or for fun, she's easily found in a great hole-in-the-wall restaurant, on a night ride on her vintage Schwinn road bike, wearing scarves and boots during whatever season she pleases and indulging in all-day TV and movie marathons when she can squeeze it in her schedule.

MORE FROM

'Fear the Walking Dead' season 3, episode 5 reveals who killed Travis

The survivors at Broke Jaw Ranch might want to move out.

The 'RuPaul's Drag Race' finale format change just saved the show from predictability

Predictability seized the last few seasons of 'RuPaul's Drag Race,' but season nine's finale flipped the script.

Journalist Kevin Powell sues 'All Eyez on Me' filmmakers, claims they stole from his Tupac articles

More bad news for the embattled Tupac Shakur biopic.

Who won 'RuPaul's Drag Race' season 9?

A lip-sync battle tournament leads to a surprising winner.

Halsey just started a feud with Iggy Azalea

The pop singer thinks Azalea is a "fucking moron."

'Game of Thrones' author George R.R. Martin has a new TV show in the works

An early, gory novella from Martin is heading to Syfy.

'Fear the Walking Dead' season 3, episode 5 reveals who killed Travis

The survivors at Broke Jaw Ranch might want to move out.

The 'RuPaul's Drag Race' finale format change just saved the show from predictability

Predictability seized the last few seasons of 'RuPaul's Drag Race,' but season nine's finale flipped the script.

Journalist Kevin Powell sues 'All Eyez on Me' filmmakers, claims they stole from his Tupac articles

More bad news for the embattled Tupac Shakur biopic.

Who won 'RuPaul's Drag Race' season 9?

A lip-sync battle tournament leads to a surprising winner.

Halsey just started a feud with Iggy Azalea

The pop singer thinks Azalea is a "fucking moron."

'Game of Thrones' author George R.R. Martin has a new TV show in the works

An early, gory novella from Martin is heading to Syfy.