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January 21, 2013

Once in a great while, an artist releases an album that ultimately defines their entire career.  This kind of album manages to take them from talented to the edge of legendary contingent upon what they choose to do with the aftermath of success.  An example of this is FutureSex/LoveSounds from Justin Timberlake.

Justin (or JT as I call him because you know... he's my boy) got his start in a little known boy band called *NSYNC.  However, the world immediately forgave him for that once it heard his first solo album Justified.  There we got to hear a different side of him with hits Like I Love You and Rock Your Body, but it took Cry Me A River - the mid tempo, Britney inspired, rain pounding jam to get my attention.  I love that song.  Still.  The wife and I probably reference it at least every other week if the opportunity presents itself.

So JT went solo.  It turned out well.  Congratulations.  There's life beyond the boy band!  (At least for the lead singer... sorry Chris Kirkpatrick.)  Little did we know that first effort was only the tip of the iceberg and that preparations were in place for the revival of sexy.  That's right.  Timberlake was attempting to bring sexy back or so he claimed.

In what can only be described as a pop masterpiece, SexyBack exploded everywhere.  Teenagers were playing it, mothers were singing it, fathers were humming it, babies that couldn't talk yet were nodding their heads in perfect time with Timbaland's background yeahs.  It was impossible to get away from, which left everyone with the same assumption... maybe he did bring sexy back.

The rest of the album hardly failed in comparison and track by track we discovered Timberlake was a legit artist.  The formula here is good boy meets bad in a way that appeals to everyone.  Even those hard dudes that refuse to admit knowing the words to Bye Bye Bye aren't ashamed to give JT his props.  The rap infused Chop Me Up and My Love are instant hits with Three 6 Mafia and TI lending their skills which help bring Justin away from the boy band image and into the solo artist arena.  Although influences like Michael Jackson and Prince are heard on songs Love Stoned and Damn Girl, there's a new grit to his voice that gave him a distinct sound and edge above any other male artist out at the time.  Of course now, Justin Bieber is trying his hand at this same formula by channeling his inner Timberlake with current releases Boyfriend and As Long As You Love Me.  At least JT kept it classy and wore a suit and not this baggy bull... disagree Beliebers? **

This album also offered a Cry Me A River part two in the form of What Goes Around proving that Britney really did a number on him.  Allegedly.  We don't know for sure (although I think we do).  Recently, JT announced plans to release a new album this year and subsequently released its first single Suit & Tie.  The announcement was met with a deep inhale and small screams from girls / women / grandmothers all over the world. He already brought sexy back 7 years ago... now what?

**Two things:  1) I can't believe I said "beliebers" and 2) Cry Me A River never gets old.  Ever.

Are you still blasting this album?  Are you ready for the next one?  Or are you still on the *NSYNC train?  In which case, you should know that trained pulled into the station in 2001.

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