*Live show review by fearless23*
Oh we’re getting close. So close that Britney, Janet and Cameron can taste it! Yes… it’s the number two album on the Best of 2006 countdown: Justin Timberlake’s “FutureSex/LoveSounds“! Justin came back strong on his sophomore offering and it just blew me away.
After his 2002 release “Justified“, I could have cared less. I didn’t listen to the album and never gave Justin a chance to break the stigma of the boy-band mold and everything bad that surrounds it. I did like the single or two that I heard on the radio but was never really invested in the music or anything he was doing. Then I started to pick up on public appearances and little interviews. Those really got my attention. Not only could this artist amass thousands of screaming girl-fans (and guy-fans), but he could also speak about music, and the craft of music, intelligently. Hu? But he came from a boy band! He dances well! Hey plays the piano ?!? He puts on amazing live shows? He’s really talented? Now, I will admit that I’m usually not the first to know about emerging artists, but I’m certainly not the last to know. So when I caught wind of Justin’s next solo project, I was all ears.
“Damn Girl! You so fine!” Justin has a way with lyrics that head-voice, falsetto, Bee Gees, faker-wanna bes can only hope to have. No seriously, the track Damn Girl is a seriously groovy tune. Timberlake sounds like he could walk into a funk session and lay down lyrics with the best of them. And funk is the sound that comes to mind when I listen to this tune. There are a couple of tracks that sway out into the smooth ballad realm but overall, the taste is funk, and I want more. So Damn Girl uses this great sample from J.C. Davis’ A New Day is Here at Last. Just a perfect starting point for this tune. Now, I was lucky enough to have been born in the early 70s, which means that while disco was thriving, I was listening to the theme from “The Great Space Coaster” and “Land of the Lost“. By the time my musical pallet started to develop, the early forms of rap music and disco/funk transition tunes were getting airplay; so I missed the whole bell-bottom, disco ball thing. But this song makes me wish I had at least been around to listen to J.C. Davis, Parliament and the late great James Brown. The rest of the album reminds me of my musical childhood. I hear lots of early 80’s influenced samples and sounds that really bring me back to that cardboard box and the parachute pants time of joy. Will.I.Am makes a groovy little appearance and lays in a nice little breakdown vocal. Give this track a listen. If you have a convertible, put the top down and let it rip.
Justin Timberlake – Damn Girl
Love Stoned is just a well-produced track. I use the word meaty in a lot of my posts and it can be a compliment or an insult. In this case, a compliment. Timbaland has really developed a great ear as a producer and the combination of Timberlake and Timbaland is one that really deserves a lot of recognition. The integration of beat box and a cappella vocalizations really warm up and personalize this tune. Their understanding of rhythm and arranging is very evident on this tune and everything fits nicely in the mix. The outro interlude section of the song I Think She Knows features a guitar-strumming Timberlake and a sweet string arrangement by Larry Gold. For those of you that don’t the name Larry Gold, he’s a Curtis Institute uber-prodigy that has been instrumental (no pun intended) in shaping the sound of popular music (maybe even more instrumental than Quincy Jones). He’s worked on projects for Teddy Pendergrass, Boys II Men, Christina Aguilera, Kelly Clarkson, The Roots, Erykah Badu, Common, Jill Scott and Justin’s last album Justified. All in all, Love Stoned is the culmination of all the hard work and collaborating efforts of a lot of really talented artists and engineers. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did here at The Alternakids!
Justin Timberlake – Love Stoned
I am a supporter of live music, and not just small local bands mind you. Live music is a real intimate look at how artists have molded their craft. There are nuances that you will hear live that might never show up on a studio album. It also gives musicians a chance to say, “Look at what I can do!” Who thought that John Mayer could actually play guitar?!? Who thought Clay Aiken could be so bad live?!? Who thought Justin Timberlake could really put on a great live show? Justin is a fan of music and has a sense of musicianship. This combination has lead to some incredible “live” televised performances on SNL and the Today Show. But here to shed some light on his recent visit to the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA is fellow Alternakids contributor and Timberlake fan, fearless23:
So I bought the tickets as a gift for my wife, but I was certainly excited to see if Justin could live up to the hype of this tour. His album had already wowed me… can this concert be all it’s predicted to be? The answer is a clear YES, and than some. I’ve been to many concerts and stage shows — large and small, local and Vegas… and this took the cake. They built a stage and performed a show that was unlike any other… they transformed the Staples Center into an all out visual extravaganza. Basically, Club Staples if you can imagine that? There wasn’t a bad seat in the house. Stage design, choreography, and Justin’s constant energy keep this show alive from beginning to end. Even the intermission was a show in itself (Timbaland spinning some beats). The stage extends in every direction, and works on multiple levels — just like the concert itself.
J.T. opened with the album title (F.S.L.S.)… and brought the crowd to it’s feet as the best stage show they’ve ever witnessed began to unfold. “My Love” was a wonderful remix — in the sense, Justin did every verse (after the first) in a different style of genre of music — including a little bit of jazz, and ending it with an all out hard-rock feel. “What Goes Around” was marvelous live expression of that song and sound. With an incredible hydrolic light show above his piano, it was something difficult to forget and almost impossible to describe. It’s obvious it’s going to be his next hit single (which leads nicely with the expected Scarlett Johansson video release this weekend).
“Damn Girl” is a perfect example of why this show kept you constantly entertained. Even when you didn’t have Justin Timberlake dancing and singing with beautiful dancers on your stage section — you were given another show in itself. Sexy dancer/ladies giving each other lap-dances and exotic performances only seen in the best shows Vegas has to offer. They tried to think of everything for the viewing audience member. His closer was obviously “Sexy Back” — and he kicked it out strong. His encore was an unexpected piano ballad that gave him an opportunity to express his heart felt appreciation for the stardom he has been given (he even shed a tear, if your seats were close enough to notice). It was a rare moment for him to showcase his all around talent in vocal and melody — with a man and his piano. And a rare twist to such a highly energetic show — but it worked, and worked well.
Obviously, I recommend the show to anyone — it’s even worth the price (plus you get Pink! to open). And although the sound from the youtube clips are poor (due to intense bass and a bad camera mic), you should get a feel of the energy and performance that is given. Even if you aren’t a fan, there is no chance you won’t be amazed and caught off guard by the visual show and talent on the stage. Welcome to the club… — fearless23.
Thanks fearless23! It’s too bad the Dixie Chicks won all the Grammys this year… It would have been nice for Justin to pick up a couple more. Here’s the performance for you to check out with contest winner Robyn Troup singing along (and holding her own!).
Dixie Chicks aside, I really liked this album. Almost more for its nostalgic content than for the way Timberlake has really grown into his own sound as a solo artist. And in a way, they are one in the same. After listening to this album, seeing the press junkets and watching him grow as a performer, I really feel a connection to Justin that most artists try to achieve with their audience over the span of several albums. If you don’t have it already, pick up Justified. Then listen to FutureSex/LoveSounds and see just how far Justin has come from boy-band sweetheart to number two on The Alternakids Best of 2006. Thanks for listening and stay tuned for the number one on the Best of 2006 countdown!
Visit the Official Justin Timberlake Website
– David Schatanoff, Jr.