Let’s face it: it’s no secret that Justin Timberlake has quickly become one of the most sought-after musicians, actors and sex symbols of the 21st century. With the upcoming release of his third LP The 20/20 Experience, it made me want to take a look back at the artist’s previous material to see how the former N*Sync heartthrob evolved into the successful soloist he is today. However, in order to find the specific moment where Timberlake exploded into stardom, one must look back on all of the artist’s accomplishments as well. Which has had the most impact on today’s society? Which took the world by the storm the most? And most importantly…which has had the most lasting appeal since its release? That one achievement would have to be the artist’s second album: Futuresex/Lovesounds.
It’s weird to imagine a world with pop music that wasn’t technically, lyrically or vocally influenced by Futuresex/Lovesounds in one way or another. Without the stellar LP, one can only hope that the world would’ve naturally developed a need to produce pop as classy, dignified and undeniably sexy as Timberlake provided back in 2006. The 13-track behemoth was revered as one of the finest examples of modern pop of the ‘00s, topping many end-of-the-decade lists. After the record was released in the closing summer days of 2006, the genre would never be the same.
In order to properly dissect Futuresex/Lovesounds, one must first properly split the record right down the middle into two categories: singles and deep cuts. Starting with singles – and believe me there’s a lot to talk about – the transition from ’06-‘07 treated Timberlake exceptionally well with six major singles released over the next seven months. “Sexyback” is a perfect example of how to spark a dance-pop revolution with one single piece of music. In an almost unrecognizable vocal turn, the singer was able to turn heads with this rock-laced, club-funk ode to bringing sexiness back. Honestly, until I heard “Sexyback,” I had no idea that the idea of sexiness was in need of saving. Oh, how wrong I was.
Singles like “What Goes Around…/…Comes Around” and “Lovestoned / I Think She Knows” show why radio edits have a place in modern music. When separated into “What Goes Around…” and “Lovestoned,” the songs work exceptionally well to help break up mundane filler in any radio station’s queue. However, it’s their heavily musical interludes added on at the end that allow them to really soar. “I Think She Knows” adds a lot of elegance to the track’s slick former half. Additionally, because the singles contain these beautiful add-ons, it allows for a more cohesive feel to Futuresex/Lovesounds as a whole. Tracks like these make the record work exceptionally well as a collection of music – not just a big hodge-podge of singles.
That being said, who could forget some of Futuresex’s less familiar moments? Hopefully no one, as these are the tracks that allow the record to stand out above many other pop albums. Though the singles show a sophisticated, all-business side to Timberlake, it’s songs like “Sexy Ladies,” “Damn Girl” and the unfortunately underrated “Pose” that give the artist his third dimension – that he’s capable of having a great time. Timberlake isn’t afraid to let you know that he “don’t know need to Maybelline / ‘cause you a booty queen / don’t need no Loreal / ‘cause bitch, you’re bad as hell.” Furthermore, expect him and Snoop Dogg to formally ask to “pose, pose, pose / only for my photos.” Moments like these on Futuresex/Lovesounds help drive home the fact that Timberlake is no longer that cocky heartthrob with the frosted tips that your older brother used to make fun of for listening to. Timberlake’s grown up…and he wants to take your woman.
Finally, we arrive at what has made Futuresex/Lovesounds such an important record not just for the public, but for Timberlake himself. I won’t lie, until I first bought my copy of the record back in 2006, I had a very undesirable opinion of Timberlake. From being the cocky pretty boy of a boy band I was never really interested in to inadvertently exposing Janet Jackson’s breast at the Super Bowl, everything I had been fed about the pop-start had an extremely negative connotation attached to it. However, it was after Futuresex that everything started to change. Timberlake became a much more amiable, easygoing human being. Sure, regardless of the lyrical overtones that hint at any kind of arrogance, Timberlake has allowed himself to have a great sense of humor about everything he’s done thus far in his career. It’s what makes the artist perfect for our generation.
It’s for this reason that, while Timberlake’s recent achievements are tough to match, it was the brief, shining moment back in September 2006 that allowed as the tipping point for the artist to become one of the coolest, down-to-earth music sensations of our time. Seven years later, it’s still just as catchy and mesmerizing as it was back then, and has kept its lasting impression. Now that we’ve discovered the potential the album had, let’s hope that future generations will use these love sounds to their advantage.