Rethinking JT in the age of #metoo
February 7, 2018 4:33 AM   Subscribe

Justin Timberlake seems lost in the woods. No longer can a star like Justin Timberlake — a white artist who has spent his career connecting with black music and popular culture, a straight male artist who has released countless dance-floor seductions that sometimes veer into pushiness, let's say — expect for people to just accept this point of view. Regardless of your feelings about Justin Timberlake at the Super Bowl halftime show (I enjoyed at the time), NPR gives an interesting perspective on his Super Bowl performance, his new album, and how the time just "is not right" for JT.
posted by foxywombat (97 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 


God, it was weirdly flat and perfunctory. After previous shows carrying real weight (Beyonce) or at least bonkers spectacle (Perry) this was just... they almost may as well have just had recorded music piped in. To say nothing of all the wider cultural baggage.
posted by ominous_paws at 4:39 AM on February 7 [7 favorites]


Massive mainstream pop stars usually fall flat when they try to explore their experimental ambitions, at least under their own name. His Man Of The Woods seems to be an echo of boy-band graduate and IDM enthusiast Robbie Williams' homage to electro hip-hop BEATBOX, which apparently ended up being ground up to pave roads in India.

The obvious counterexample is Scott Walker, though didn't he have a decade or two in the wilderness between Walker Brothers fame and critical kudos?
posted by acb at 4:40 AM on February 7 [4 favorites]


Rage, rage against the dying of the white.
posted by Mayor West at 5:05 AM on February 7 [71 favorites]


Justin Timberlake is no Scott Walker.
posted by parki at 5:13 AM on February 7 [22 favorites]


"We want statements and struggle in our pop music, not just another smooth dance mix."

That's a claim that one person made for, um... everyone? The JT performance was bad. My wife who is a hug fan of his thought so as well.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 5:19 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


i heard about his Prince projection and just noped out of even bothering to give him clicks.
posted by cendawanita at 5:23 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]


Justin Timberlake and the fall of the mediocre man.

A huge opportunity comes your way, followed immediately by criticism that you don't deserve it. The naysayers discount your past successes, attributing them to luck in landing talented collaborators.

I guess Justin Timberlake has something in common with women of colour after all.

posted by The Card Cheat at 5:24 AM on February 7 [14 favorites]


Timberlake has played off of various situations in his life in which he sailed through unaffected while a woman suffered, be it making fun of his ex girlfriend he cheated on who was having a nervous breakdown (and twisting the narrative into she cheated on him), or never mentioning the disrobing of Janet Jackson while her career was stung by it. So yea, white male privilege.
posted by opsin at 5:26 AM on February 7 [37 favorites]


In honor of today's Super Bowl halftime headliner, I wanna dedicate a thread as to why Justin Timberlake is trash✨✨✨

(with details on how he milked his 'ship with Britney Spears, what happened after Janet Jackson, and a bit of background about him and Prince)
posted by cendawanita at 5:44 AM on February 7 [50 favorites]


Over-thinking the disposible industry. He is now a legacy act. You get them while they are young and cute-ish. Fans fantasize about marrying them or being them. The music and talent have always been secondary.

When that idealism is undoable thanks to age and reality, fans let go. New generations get fresh meat, and have their acts to drool over.

It is not like he is the first teen idol to fall out of favour. And it is not as if there isn't the crop of fresh mediocre white men who are now getting attention.

Nothing happened except a natural cycle in a very predictable and exploitative industry.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 5:50 AM on February 7 [22 favorites]


His performance was, as stated above, just fine. There have been far better. Beyonce, for one. Prince, for another. And the attempted erasure of Janet Jackson was a pile of shit decision no matter how you slice it. That was a deliberate choice. A well-intended one, maybe, but really stupid if so.

More broadly, though, and I know this is probably me wearing an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time, but: I have never understood why the halftime show is so culturally venerated. It has always struck me as the Branson, MO of rock & roll. A rock or R&B show at a conservative, corporatized event that's that polished and funded and branded up to its eyeballs seems about as authentic as requiring the singing of the Star Spangled Banner before a Circle Jerks show.

The music of youth should be the music of rebellion, and Beyonce certainly showed us that the last time she stepped out there. But she's the exception. Outside of her and Janet, I can't think of anyone who used that moment to do something contextually real.
posted by middleclasstool at 5:54 AM on February 7 [44 favorites]


I was (am?) a huge fan of 'Nysnc and I loosely followed JT's solo career with more or less positive support and interest (despite his horrible treatment of Britney which I tolerated out of juvenile and internalised misogyny). But then that stupid single for the Trolls movie came out and then something just completely switched in my head. I remember hearing it for the first time and thinking "Oh god is he re-hashing a tepid version of Michael Jackson's sound again?" and that was that.

Also, #justiceforjanet
posted by like_neon at 5:57 AM on February 7 [6 favorites]


I write about country music, and the album was supposed to have country sounds, so I gave it a listen.

His regular soul-pop with an occasional acoustic guitar or fiddle does not make it country.

Every single song on Chris Stapleton's new album, From a Room: Vol. 2, is not only better than the duet he does with Timberlake, but is better than the entire album.

It's too bad. Timber Lake sounds like something a mountain man would live near.
posted by maxsparber at 6:00 AM on February 7 [8 favorites]




I'm not trying to sound like a radical feminist, I'm just saying that's the tenor of our times.

Um, nothing in that article was remotely radical, and I’m not even sure pointing out that Timberlake’s history is problematic is exceptionally feminist. You set your bar too low, NPR.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:03 AM on February 7 [30 favorites]


> I have never understood why the halftime show is so culturally venerated.

Back in the day they didn't hire the biggest star(s) of the moment, they got George Burns or an Elvis impersonator doing magic tricks or Up With People or...Ella Fitzgerald? Okay, that's awesome.
posted by The Card Cheat at 6:10 AM on February 7 [6 favorites]


It was just BORING. I couldn't believe it when it ended - I was sure there was more coming.
posted by showbiz_liz at 6:13 AM on February 7 [6 favorites]


The obvious counterexample is Scott Walker, though didn't he have a decade or two in the wilderness between Walker Brothers fame and critical kudos?

Christ, I would’ve paid a lot to see a half-time show of JT beating raw carcasses of meat and screaming “HORRORRRRRR!!!” But we get the half-time shows we need, not the ones we deserve.

(The two decades or so that separate Walker from pop star to critical acclaim were filled with a lot of work for hire and punctuated by Tilt in ‘78 and Climate Of Hunter in ‘84. They’re also two decades Walker spent learning as well as working. Ain’t saying Timberlake couldn’t do that ...)
posted by octobersurprise at 6:16 AM on February 7 [9 favorites]


Okay, on the one hand, yes, Justin Timberlake certainly seems like trash. And the sort of horizon of possibility for him being trash is set by being a white straight man - he can be trash in ways that most white women and all BIPOC could never get away with, take up far more than his share of space, etc.

At the same time, when I look at all the tabloid garbage in the twitter thread about him being trash, I'm struck by the fact that lots and lots of people are into this whole thing, the infidelity, the having-a-pop-star-who-is-your-"nemesis", the gross prying into people's private lives, the sleazed up performances, etc etc. Timberlake is a product of that milieu. Granted, he doesn't have to be garbage, he could have stood up for Janet Jackson and not traded on his relationship with Spears and there are certainly famous white men who are less terrible. But as long as the star system persists - where young teens are put into this disgusting, exploitative high-pressure milieu and it's all supposed to be okay because they make money - and as long as leering in a frankly disgusting way at people's private lives is something that ordinary people like to do....well, the real trash is the people who read the gossip rags along the way, IMO.
posted by Frowner at 6:21 AM on February 7 [29 favorites]


I found the show to be measured and underwhelming. On reflection though, I mostly reached that judgment from reading critical reviews before the half-time show started.
posted by ZeusHumms at 6:28 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


Guess I probably shouldn't judge, as AFAIC the apotheosis of Timberlake's career was "Dick in a Box."
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:33 AM on February 7 [27 favorites]


I'm not a fan of JT, but it was ever thus with these teen acts once they grow up. I thought his presentation was poorly executed, from the stage design, to his ugly outfit, to the sheet, to the pandering by going up to the kid in the stands (though I love the meme that went out of the kid supposedly googling "who is justin timberlake?"). I can't imagine this latest album of his selling well.

"You'll take me aside, and say,
'Well, David, what shall I do?
They wait for me in the hallway.'
I'll say, 'Don't ask me, I don't know any hallways.'
But they move in numbers and they've got me in a corner..."

posted by droplet at 6:40 AM on February 7 [4 favorites]


I've never understood the Timberlake phenomenon. It makes me feel old, to be honest. I've listened to his music, and some of it is actually kind of good, but there's always been this push to make him a Meaningful Cultural Icon, and I don't get it. Nobody ever tried to argue that Joey McIntyre or Nick Carter were important. It seems like Timberlake just had the good fortune to have released a popular record as Poptimism became ascendant. Is there something I'm missing?
posted by kevinbelt at 6:42 AM on February 7 [7 favorites]


The fact that Justin got the flourishing solo career instead of JC Chasez is proof that we are in The Bad Place.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 6:43 AM on February 7 [21 favorites]


Back in the 70s there was a kid in my sunday school named Prince Timberlake.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 6:49 AM on February 7 [11 favorites]


I don't really have an opinion about Timberlake's music but the half-time show was pretty lackluster compared to the last few.
posted by octothorpe at 6:52 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


So hey, my comment got deleted. I apologise to anyone who was offended.

I am curious though: was Prince not an evangelical homophobe? Was I factually wrong about that? Not trying to have an argument, I'd like information in case I have the wrong idea.
posted by pompomtom at 6:59 AM on February 7


Christ, I would’ve paid a lot to see a half-time show of JT beating raw carcasses of meat and screaming “HORRORRRRRR!!!”

This comment is the only redeeming feature of our discussing Timberlake at all.
posted by ryanshepard at 7:01 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]


Was Prince a devout member of his church who still went knocking on doors sometimes? By all accounts, yes.

Was Prince a homophobe? I mean, a good portion of his songs are about how having kinky sex with your preferred person with both of you reveling in your preferred gender presentations (and/or switching if that is your thing) brings you closer to God, so.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 7:03 AM on February 7 [18 favorites]


I mean, he may have been an evangelical homophobe, but like, it's kinda gross to suggest that he somehow deserves to have his personal beliefs trampled on.
posted by chainsofreedom at 7:03 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


I work in pediatrics and the highlight of my Monday was a 6-year-old breathlessly reporting on how Justin Kimberly danced at the Super Bowl.
posted by a hat out of hell at 7:08 AM on February 7 [41 favorites]


Thank you. Bowing out now.
posted by pompomtom at 7:09 AM on February 7


My husband and I were moved by the Prince purple lights tribute, and also just by hearing one of his songs, mostly because we don't care about Timberlake at all and only perked up and paid attention when we saw Prince's image. Mostly it was a dull show that was only enlivened by some of his backup dancers being really fun to watch.
posted by PussKillian at 7:10 AM on February 7


I don't have an opinion on Prince either way, and maybe I missed a really offensive and now-deleted comment, but evangelical homophobia sounds like a belief that's pretty much worth trampling into the cultural dirt whenever its found and wherever possible. Just because someone believes it doesn't make it beyond reproach; that's how shitty people get away with shitty stuff—they cloak their bias in religion and then carry it out into the temporal world, because all religion exists, at the end of the day, in the same world we all have to goddamn share. So that's pretty thin.

Similarly, and perhaps more to the point, Timberlake has never (to my knowledge) been so tone-deaf as to say anything bald-facedly homophobic, but the sexism is pretty off the charts. He's going to get called to account for that, and maybe this is the start, and I don't think he's going to have a religion-based defense to fall back on there. About the best I think he'll do is a confused "well, it was the 90s and that was the thing to do!" and hope nobody checks the dates on the songs too closely.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:12 AM on February 7 [7 favorites]


One thing I appreciated about the back-up dancers is that most of the women's costumes featured warm clothing and sensible shoes--boots or sneakers--and even the few wearing fancier footwear were given chunky heels. I'm always bugged by costume choices that feature the women freezing in skimpy outfits and teetering on 5-inch spikes while the men enjoy the comfort warm clothing and comfortable shoes. See also: newscasters.
posted by carmicha at 7:13 AM on February 7 [19 favorites]


Right, I don't disagree that we should stomp on homophobic beliefs. But I don't see how a digital representation of a person who was virulently against it does that.
posted by chainsofreedom at 7:14 AM on February 7


In later life, Prince returned to (became?) being a Jehovah's Witness and seems to have been, yes, kinda anti-gay, per the linked essay in The Root. People don't like to talk about this. I mean, I don't think he was at all evangelical about his beliefs, you have to give him that; if you're going to be kinda anti-gay, keeping that to yourself is the best way to go.

My own feeling is that I'm not thrilled about this fact, and not thrilled that it's not something considered nice to mention, since after all Prince was, later in life, kinda-anti-me and people like me, and I'm supposed to be all "oh well he was very talented, I won't say anything".

I mean honestly, it's tough. No one wants to say anything bad about Prince - I don't really want to say anything bad about Prince. He was enormously talented, he stayed here in Minnesota, he did a lot for this state, and he pretty much kept his beliefs to himself rather than trying to make them the law of the land. I don't get the sense from his public persona that being kinda-homophobic was a big part of his personality, unlike a lot of right-wing politicians.

So I guess for me it's a big "I have mixed feelings".
posted by Frowner at 7:16 AM on February 7 [28 favorites]


"Evangelical" doesn't mean "super-christian" or however people are using it here. Prince was a Jehovah's Witness. Both evangelicals and Jehovah's Witnesses would be offended at using the label evangelical for him. He was raised Seventh Day Adventist which is also not an evangelical tradition.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 7:16 AM on February 7 [15 favorites]


(I assumed "evangelical" to be used to mean "actively preaching", like "she's a real juice cleanse evangelist".)
posted by Frowner at 7:18 AM on February 7 [7 favorites]


Sorry, to have to explain, I meant lower-case ‘e’... totally going to bed now
posted by pompomtom at 7:21 AM on February 7 [3 favorites]


For what it's worth I flagged the comment that was deleted - not because it shouldn't be mentioned but because it ended with applauding Timberlake for appropriating black culture/cultural icons AGAIN on the excuse that Prince deserved it because he was homophobic? We can certainly deal with any of Prince's ills, but saying it's ok to use his image in a way he found actively demonic? I dunno, it was just a weird argument.

Prince was a lot of things and had at least as many bad opinions as good ones but that still doesn't excuse Timberlake's use of his image as it had absolutely nothing to do with all the things we could discuss about how Prince wasn't perfect. That part of the show was honestly, to me, an extension of the same problem as the MLK truck commercial - as someone quoted the tweet up above - the master using the labor of those he enslaved even after death.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 7:23 AM on February 7 [17 favorites]


One thing I appreciated about the back-up dancers is that most of the women's costumes featured warm clothing and sensible shoes

Was just trying to formulate a comment along the lines of carmicha's. I don't know if this choice had anything to do with Timberlake, but I'd like to think it definitely had to do with #timesup. A million miles removed from what he did with Janet. That would never fly today.

That said, it made me think back to Beyonce's halftime show, where she and all the dancers were in skimpy (but awesome) outfits and high-heeled boots. I think people would say Beyonce was empowering, not exploiting, so maybe it's more about intent and having a choice - and who makes that choice - rather than just a simple matter of what is worn.

Still, really happy to see women featured as dancers and not just treated as eye candy for a global TV audience.
posted by martin q blank at 7:30 AM on February 7


(When specifically discussing religion, evangelical means a specific thing. It'd be like saying that Mitt Romney is a real Catholic Mormon.)
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 7:30 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today!: It'd be like saying that Mitt Romney is a real Catholic Mormon.

Or a real catholic Mormon, in the lower-cased (and similarly confusing) sense of that word.
posted by clawsoon at 7:43 AM on February 7 [6 favorites]


(When specifically discussing religion, evangelical means a specific thing. It'd be like saying that Mitt Romney is a real Catholic Mormon.)

Capital-E Evangelical means something specific, just as capital-C Catholic means a specific thing. Lower case-e evangelical means something else, just as lower case-c catholic means something else.

A Mormon can be said to be catholic, if not Catholic. A Jehovah's Witness can be evangelical, if not Evangelical.
posted by Four Ds at 7:44 AM on February 7 [7 favorites]


[Maybe enough on this what-about-Prince sidebar.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 7:44 AM on February 7 [9 favorites]


Maybe the best critique of Justin Timberlake is to note that Prince is two years dead and still more interesting.
posted by ardgedee at 7:48 AM on February 7 [80 favorites]


Pretty high bar there--Prince could be dead for a lot longer than that and he'll still be a lot more interesting than a *lot* of people, dead or alive, famous or not.
posted by Four Ds at 7:58 AM on February 7 [5 favorites]


I can’t believe that people are just now realizing that Justin Timberlake is a piece of shit. Besides the consistent misogyny, and besides the way he beat up on Britney Spears for years to help his own sorry career (while she was having a nervous breakdown!), does no one remember the wedding video making fun of homeless people? What kind of piece of shit does that?

Like, the entire reason I don’t want Brooklyn 99 is because I don’t like Andy Samberg—his shtick is exactly the kind of exhausting “but I can get away with being a childish dick because I’m a guy” that’s one step removed from playground bullying — and at some point I realized my side eye for Andy Samberg started the very second he started his bromance with Justin Timberlake.

That is how garbage Timberlake is. The stench of his garbageness actually draws attention to the particular scents of garbageness of the people he surrounds himself with. He is the ambergris of garbage.
posted by schadenfrau at 8:03 AM on February 7 [19 favorites]


Timberlake now embodies that phrase so often spoken today: white male privilege. [...] It's gotta be confusing for a guy like Justin Timberlake, who is used to making hugely successful and fairly sophisticated pop music, but 2018 is a different time. Right now, the feminist reckoning that's taking down popular figures is also making us think about art itself differently. That's how Man of the Woods is being judged. No longer can a star like Justin Timberlake — a white artist who has spent his career connecting with black music and popular culture, a straight male artist who has released countless dance-floor seductions that sometimes veer into pushiness expect for people to just accept this point of view.
1961 - 1980: The Personal is Political but Just for Cishet, Middle-Class White Women
1980 - 2008: Nah, Politics Suck, Feminism Sucks
2008 - 2016: We Solved Racism, Feminism is Edgy and Still Very White
2017 - ????: what the fuck were y'all thinking
posted by runt at 8:05 AM on February 7 [3 favorites]


The handful of years during which Sexyback was insanely popular was my personal hell.

I just did. not. get. the appeal of that song. And it was everywhere.
posted by schmod at 8:06 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]


I could generally care less about Timberlake either way, but there are just some real clunkers on this album. There's a laughably condescending song called Livin' Off the Land with Timberlake and Timbaland and another song with the hook "I love your pink, you like my purple" which is just about the worst line ever. Yuck.
posted by ejoey at 8:18 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]


I barely paid attention to the show. Had a niece, who has gone over to the dark side, trying to murder me with a lightsaber at the time. But I did take note of his outfit. Was he deliberately evoking Redneck Revolt? I imagine not, but that's a strange coincidence if not.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 8:31 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]


I'm far too old to have ever found anything about Justin Timberlake appealing, and I also have some reservations about Lainey Gossip, but I have to admit I really enjoy just how much they enjoy disliking Timberlake.
posted by Squeak Attack at 8:50 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]


From a pure performance standpoint, I was impressed with JT: 14 straight minutes of fairly energetic, competent singing/dancing.

His casual pop god sexism is problematic, and so is a lot of pop sexism. We're eventually going to have to address the fact that a LOOOOT of pop music is about getting in a woman's pants.
posted by DrAstroZoom at 8:57 AM on February 7 [5 favorites]


But I did take note of his outfit. Was he deliberately evoking Redneck Revolt? I imagine not, but that's a strange coincidence if not.

A red bandana isn't exactly a unique signifier, and JT isn't the first musician to wear one.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 9:02 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]


We're eventually going to have to address the fact that a LOOOOT of pop music is about getting in a woman's pants.

Are you saying that come-hither pop music is inherently problematic?
posted by grumpybear69 at 9:04 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


Usually yes, I would agree with that. Hugely problematic.
posted by agregoli at 9:16 AM on February 7 [4 favorites]


who wants Timberlake to succeed this badly and why are they spending so much money on it
posted by The Whelk at 9:24 AM on February 7 [10 favorites]


I don't remember who said it, but some comedian once summed up Justin Timberlake's talents as a comic performer as on about the same level as the funny youth pastor at your local neighborhood church.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:35 AM on February 7 [11 favorites]


No longer can a star like Justin Timberlake [...] expect for people to just accept this point of view.

this is the same guy who pandered for McDonalds, right? Can't say I've ever had much credence for his point of view.

Christ, I would’ve paid a lot to see a half-time show of JT beating raw carcasses of meat and screaming “HORRORRRRRR!!!”

I'm still holding out for Hawkwind having their few minutes. We'd need a Lemmy hologram, but that's not un-doable anymore.
posted by philip-random at 9:36 AM on February 7


There's a laughably condescending song called Livin' Off the Land with Timberlake and Timbaland and another song with the hook "I love your pink, you like my purple" which is just about the worst line ever.

Ew.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:51 AM on February 7


Justin Timberlake did co-star in The Love Guru, which means we all owe him a debt of gratitude for helping bring about Myers' almost total absence from the entertainment world for the past decade or so.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:57 AM on February 7 [4 favorites]


The entire time, I was like, “Yeah but when do we get Janet?

I think it’s pretty funny how many people are saying how much his new album is a disappointment compared to FutureSex/LoveSounds. I mean, at best that album was okay but there are parts that are truly awful. Whenever I want a good laugh, I listen to this song.

In fact, just thinking about it makes me laugh.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 9:58 AM on February 7


We're eventually going to have to address the fact that a LOOOOT of pop music is about getting in a woman's pants.

I was just reflecting the other day that the percentage of pop, rock, hip-hop, R&B and blues songs that could safely be retitled "My Dick Is Pretty Great, and You Would Really Enjoy Being Penetrated by It" has gotta be well into the double digits.
posted by middleclasstool at 10:04 AM on February 7 [18 favorites]


years during which Sexyback was insanely popular was my personal hell



"How DARE this dot-eyed, crop-haired, fun-sized, guff-tongued, pirouetting waif-boy scamper on to the world's airwaves and loudly proclaim to be the sole global administrator of all things sexy? You'd think it takes massive balls to do something like that, but given the shrill, squeaking vocals cheeping through his ghastly little gobhole, it's safe to assume he's got testes the size of capers. He's practically a human dog whistle, the shrieking, high-pitched, mosquito-lunged ponce."

-Charlie Brooker, The Guardian


[graciously, this is actually in the wikipedia article for the song]
posted by Reasonably Everything Happens at 10:07 AM on February 7 [17 favorites]


(The two decades or so that separate Walker from pop star to critical acclaim were filled with a lot of work for hire and punctuated by Tilt in ‘78 and Climate Of Hunter in ‘84. They’re also two decades Walker spent learning as well as working. Ain’t saying Timberlake couldn’t do that ...)

Partial Scott Walker timeline:

1969: Scott 4 - now beloved and critically lauded, but crashed compared to his first three solo albums and Walker Brothers hits.

1970: 'Til the Band Comes In - Side 1 a suite of self-penned songs, Side 2 covers. Crashed and burned. I quite like it.

Then there were some covers albums he did in a bit of a drunken stupor. This is the nadir.

Then there was the Walker Brothers reformation in 1975, which begat a hit cover of No Regrets. After that, in 1978, they made an album of original material - Nite Flights - with about a third of the album each. Scott's songs - the first four on side 1 - were hugely influential on a small group of people (who were influential over much larger groups of people - Bowie, for example, who covered the title track on Black Tie, White Noise). The rest of the album is of no interest whatsoever. This is the beginning of the turning point for Walker.

Then Climate of Hunter in 1984, and then Tilt in 1995, at which point Walker reached a kind of apotheosis as difficult left-field artist (although he's apparently quite affable, if low key. In real life). After this he sporadically releases difficult records. The critical lull turns out to have been shorter than the distance between albums post-Tilt, though.

(Sorry, I like Scott Walker a lot, and find it difficult to repress joining in, even though the thread is about something completely different.)
posted by Grangousier at 10:55 AM on February 7 [8 favorites]


A random YouTube comment on a random Justin Timberlake song: "I love so much and this song makes me cry every time I hear this." Also: "Damn it 2006 was a damn good year lol!"

...which reinforces for me the half-baked theory that whatever music we were listening to when we hit puberty and/or got naked with somebody for the first time is the Greatest Music Ever. Even if it was created by Mr. Mediocre White Guy.
posted by clawsoon at 10:56 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]


I wish we could have had a post discussing Scott Walker instead of JT.

But actually I think they're a lot more similar than they are dissimilar. JT found fame with NSync, then released two excellent solo albums, and then kinda...*deflating noise*. Mediocre albums. Featured spots on other people's tracks.

Scott got famous with the Walker Brothers in 1965, two years later released four acclaimed solo albums within two years, and then...*deflating noise* Nine mediocre to crappy albums. The Walker Brothers reformed during that time. He did featured spots on other people's tracks. And then 25 years after Scott 4 he released Tilt and the critics were all over him again.

So who knows...maybe in 2038 we'll all be SUPER IMPRESSED with Justin. I kinda hope so.
posted by elsietheeel at 10:56 AM on February 7 [4 favorites]


*high fives Grangousier*
posted by elsietheeel at 10:57 AM on February 7


If this thread paves the way to launching an online petition to have Scott Walker perform at next year's Super Bowl halftime show, then all this will have been worth it.
posted by Atom Eyes at 11:14 AM on February 7 [7 favorites]


I wish we could have had a post discussing Scott Walker instead of JT.

No one is stopping you.
posted by agregoli at 11:38 AM on February 7 [1 favorite]


But as long as the star system persists - where young teens are put into this disgusting, exploitative high-pressure milieu and it's all supposed to be okay because they make money

I was going to say it seems like the phases of a pop career right now are:

- symbolic of something good
- symbolic of something bad
- possibly symbolic of something good again

I think JT might have missed the first "good" phase, though, which I think is maybe the key to what makes me feel weird about this anyway.
posted by atoxyl at 11:42 AM on February 7


No one is stopping you.

I just started composing a 50th birthday post for Damon Albarn - and I'm going to need every second of the six weeks until March 23rd!

Also I fear if we started an online petition to have Scott Walker perform at the Super Bowl we'd just end up with Bad Scott Walker giving a speech about how great the GOP is. Especially if the Packers are there (again, sheesh).
posted by elsietheeel at 11:44 AM on February 7 [3 favorites]


And he is an example of a certain kind of mediocrity in that he's actually obviously very talented but it would be hard to name what he has over others in the same echelon except a sort of generic white-guy-ness.
posted by atoxyl at 11:48 AM on February 7


I enjoyed this Twitter thread that started with somebody lauding JT for that microphone dance move and got filled with people posting videos of K-Pop superstars BST doing much better microphone dance moves as a group and everyone else discounting JT.
posted by numaner at 11:54 AM on February 7 [2 favorites]


The biggest curiosity of Scott Walker's latter career is the song that David Arnold convinced him to sing for the soundtrack of The World is Not Enough in 1999 - Only Myself to Blame. It goes to show that he's still perfectly capable of doing that superlative crooning, he just doesn't want to.

Also, why has he never featured in a David Lynch film? Between this and The Drift you have perfect Lynch music.

Sorry, yes, I'll fuck off now. The only Justin Timberlake thing I've ever noticed was the bit where he mimes to The Killers in the middle of Southland Tales . I like that bit.
posted by Grangousier at 12:08 PM on February 7 [3 favorites]


Charlie Brooker's review is weirdly like, sexist though. I mean half his complaints are that JT's too non-masculine, and so I don't think we should be holding that up as a valid complaint about Justin Tumberlake, when men being criticized for being feminine is --an enormous problem--

So lets criticize JT, because he's a problem but lets NOT do it because he's slender, short, dances or has a high pitched singing voice let we jump on Charlie Brooker's sexism and homophobia.
posted by FritoKAL at 12:13 PM on February 7 [12 favorites]


About once or twice a week, our Roomba vacuum, Alfred, will emerge from his charging pod, go for about 3 feet and get stuck in a rug.

When we get home and see him sitting there, helplessly, I’ve taken to calling out ‘Oh jeez, Alfred, you timberlaked again!’.

‘It’s not your fault’, I’ll often add to save his fragile (if entirely fictional) masculinity ‘...you tried, you really tried, didn’t you.’

The next day, he’ll try again, because he’s very confident in his abilities, and he’s done it before.
posted by The Toad at 12:47 PM on February 7 [13 favorites]


JT really doesn't have much to worry about. He's a straight white male, so there's still plenty of time for him to win the Nobel Prize for Literature.
posted by happyroach at 12:59 PM on February 7 [7 favorites]


the entire reason I don’t want Brooklyn 99 is because I don’t like Andy Samberg—his shtick is exactly the kind of exhausting “but I can get away with being a childish dick because I’m a guy”

Just FYI, this is pretty much exactly not what Jake is; you don't have to deny yourself this excellent comedy on that basis.
posted by praemunire at 1:58 PM on February 7 [15 favorites]


I think JT might have missed the first "good" phase, though, which I think is maybe the key to what makes me feel weird about this anyway.

The projection of all this onto pop stars (and the inevitable disappointment) makes me feel weird, I mean, not that I feel bad for Timberlake because he missed the initial phase of laudatory thinkpiecing.
posted by atoxyl at 2:07 PM on February 7


I think JT might have missed the first "good" phase

I'm not sure child stars (& former child stars) ever get to enjoy the "good" phase in the same way, unfortunately.
posted by mosst at 2:25 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


...or an Elvis impersonator doing magic tricks

That halftime show (for Superbowl XXIII, 1989) was a promoted as a 3-D viewing event, and some considered it the start of the arms race in Superbowl halftime shows.

Probably enough here for another FPP alone...
posted by JoeZydeco at 2:48 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


Timberlake's essential mediocrity is proved by the fact that this Metafilter thread is more about Prince and Scott Walker than it is about Timberlake.
posted by factory123 at 3:04 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


I don’t like Andy Samberg—his shtick is exactly the kind of exhausting “but I can get away with being a childish dick because I’m a guy”

If it makes any difference, I agree above about Jake from B99 being exactly the opposite of this, but additionally, Andy Samberg himself doesn't seem to actually be like this. And perhaps it makes it worse that it is nothing but a shtick, but he married one of my favorite musicians and from what I know of her, I don't think she'd put up with that sort of nonsense. Additionally, the way he talks about her is precious. He seems like a truly decent human being and nice guy in interviews.

(Sorry to be adding to the many derails about everyone but JT, but see above re: essential mediocrity.)
posted by elsietheeel at 3:20 PM on February 7 [6 favorites]


No longer can a star like Justin Timberlake — a white artist who has spent his career connecting with black music and popular culture, a straight male artist who has released countless dance-floor seductions that sometimes veer into pushiness, let's say — expect for people to just accept this point of view. I'm not trying to sound like a radical feminist, I'm just saying that's the tenor of our times. It's got to be super confusing to Timberlake, but it is what it is; this is where we live. We want statements and struggle in our pop music, not just another smooth dance mix. (bold added)

He is implying is that people don't want to dance anymore to male voices lacking statements or struggle. However, he is saying so as a critic, not as a reporter.
posted by Brian B. at 4:21 PM on February 7


On Monday I was trying to explain who Justin Timberlake was to an older colleague, and a younger colleague walked by and said "Justin Timberlake was the Michael Jackson of my generation". That can't be right. Was he pulling my leg? Another colleague walked by and said Tmberlake and his dancers looked like they had gone to the thrift store to get their costumes and had gone one size up just to make sure. She was not pulling my leg.
posted by acrasis at 5:14 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


Timberlake is just bland and boring. He is one of the most generic looking famous dudes out there. The only songs of his I ever liked were "Dick In A Box" (or well, any joke thing because I have a dirty mind) and the troll song. "Sexy Back" was always stupid because seriously, when was sexy GONE? Never, dude. Even the Victorians.

But that said, I usually don't pay attention to Mr. Boring but maaaaaaaaaaan he has apparently dragged out that Britney shit for fifteen years now?! If she cheated on him I can't say I blame him for being mad, but fifteen years of hyping it? Taylor Swift daydreams of achieving his levels of shit slinging (and I'm sure one day she will).
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:43 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


I agree with the complaints about appropriation and the general blah-ness that his music has become, but I have to admit I'm a little confused about calling JT out for the JT / Jackson Super Bowl incident. The impression I got at the time was that he was a bit flippant about it immediately after the fact, which was consistent with how I think most viewers were thinking about it -- a notable "oops" during a highly public event that exposed some of America's prudishness, and not much more. When it became clear that there were going to be real repercussions for Jackson, it seemed like he took no time in showing support for her and explicitly commenting on the hypocrisy of not including him in the backlash. The Wiki article seems to confirm that.

It seems clear that many people perceive his actions as having abandoned Jackson; left her out to dry in some sense. I guess I'm a bit confused about what an appropriate response would have been, beyond what he already did. Some kind of press tour or strike calling out studio heads or media moguls?
posted by Expecto Cilantro at 5:51 PM on February 7


it seemed like he took no time in showing support for her and explicitly commenting on the hypocrisy of not including him in the backlash.

Two years later while in the interim he's performing at events she's not even allowed in to. That's quite a bit of time. He could of said some of that around the time she was being forced to videotape an apology saying MTV was not involved or after when it was obvious to anyone paying attention to both of them that her career was being tanked for it. He could have stood by her as a fellow artist, as her friend, as her rumored sometimes partner. That's the thing with JT. He likes to stand next to blackness right up until his white privilege parachutes him out of trouble.
posted by I'm Not Even Supposed To Be Here Today! at 6:12 PM on February 7 [16 favorites]


Two years later while in the interim he's performing at events she's not even allowed in to. That's quite a bit of time.

Ah, that'd do it. The way the summary was phrased (or my misreading of it) made it seem not so long as that.
posted by Expecto Cilantro at 6:18 PM on February 7


He is implying is that people don't want to dance anymore to male voices lacking statements or struggle.

which is like saying that people don't want to watch espn sportscenter and would rather watch a news channel so they can be fully informed instead of wondering about what the hell is going on with the cavaliers

if they really, really, really wanted statements of social struggle would they be watching the super bowl?

people want their circuses - come on, didn't we always know that?
posted by pyramid termite at 6:22 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


Wasn't Timberlake the guy in the Facebook movie who told him not to call it "The Facebook"? That was kinda funny.
posted by straight at 8:24 PM on February 7


I have never understood why the halftime show is so culturally venerated.

It's turned into this cultural touchstone for what those nebulous powers-that-be decide to reflect musical taste in American culture for the year, I think?

who wants Timberlake to succeed this badly and why are they spending so much money on it


Yep, that's it. Who are they?
posted by ovvl at 8:40 PM on February 7 [1 favorite]


Who controls the British pound
Who keeps the metric system down
We do
We do
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:48 AM on February 8 [2 favorites]


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