Justin Timberlake is one of music’s last great pop stars. So it makes sense for his first album is seven years to have high expectations. The release of his single “Suit & Tie” is already on pace to outsell “Sexyback”. But there is no doubt that The 20/20 Experience will be a retail success. JT could read the phone book and it would go gold in a week. The real question is, will the album be another classic in his sparkling discography? Here are the five expectations that will ensure that The 20/20 Experience will indeed be another classic.
1) A New Sound
He brought “Sexyback”, he made us “Cry a River” and on his new album we certainly hope he will impact music he will create a new sound. When he was creating FutureSex/LoveSounds he was motivated to experiment with a new sound. Songs like “Summer Love” and “My Love” stand alone as great songs as well as fitting into the concept of the album. There is no copying current trends in music. Timberlake is a trailblazer for pop music. With a great production team around him that seems like a feasible expectation. Timbaland who produced “Suit & Tie” one of the greatest producers of all-time will undoubtedly have a heavy hand in the crafting in the album’s overall sound. Pharrell who produced “Senorita” and “Rock Your Body” should play a role as well.
2) Not Feature Heavy
Having a feature heavy album is a cop-out and rarely works for having a great album (exception The Chronic). Putting a big name on a song untimely boils down to a marketing technique. That is partly my problem with “Suit & Tie.” Jay-Z’s verse was underwhelming and could have been left of the song. JT could collaborate with anyone he wants to. That does not mean he should. The temptation is there to put a hot artist his song just to sell records. It has been seven years I want to hear him carry a song.
3) A Definitive Single
Justified had “Cry Me a River” and FutureSex/ LoveSounds had “Sexyback”. The 20/20 Experience needs a single to define the album. In all honesty “Suit & Tie” is a forgettable song. There needs to be a song that will still bump ten years from now. With JT’s track record that does not seem like a far fetched expectation.
4) A Duet With a Pop Legend
Justin is a pop music icon. He has been on countless hit records. One type of record missing from his discography is a duet. Country music artists perform duets together all the time and are wildly successful. It would be great to see him collaborate with another icon. The short-list would be for Timberlake to collaborate with Christina Aguilera or Britney Spears. This is a long shot to actually happen but it would be interesting to hear given their history.
5) A Complete Album
Music today is lacking complete albums. We live in a world of singles. There is more of a focus to put out one great song than to put out a complete body of work. Justin Timberlake is one of the biggest pop stars of this generation. If any one can shift the landscape of music it is him. Having a complete album that is enjoyable to listen to top to bottom is a necessity for his musical legacy. He is two for two with his solo records. The bar is set very high for The 20/20 Experience. Regardless, it will definitely be worth a listen.