A mere glimpse of Justin Timberlake dressed as a rural woodsman in the trailer for his forthcoming album, Man of the Woods, prompted accusations of “[w]hite colonialist fantasies” and pandering to Trump’s America. The Memphis-born artist’s foray into what his record label describes as “the sounds of traditional American rock,” however, could be interpreted as a return to his roots. He’s been setting the stage for it since at least 2015, when he performed with Nashville crooner Chris Stapleton and even cracked the country radio charts with his single “Drink You Away.”
Justin Timberlake (#1–10 of 43)
Toronto International Film Festival
To witness Justin Timberlake + The Tennessee Kids, which captures the final performance of Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience World Tour at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, is to be in pure bliss. This shouldn’t come as a surprise to those familiar with Jonathan Demme’s history as one of the premier documenters of musical performance, though his previous subjects, like the Talking Heads (Stop Making Sense), Neil Young (Neil Young: Heart of Gold), and Robyn Hitchcock (Storefront Hitchcock), often tended toward niche more than mainstream embrace. So what happens when the director trains his uniquely empathetic eye on a bona-fide megastar? He finds, happily, the potent heart and soul underneath all the rehearsed glitz and glamor.
In case it wasn’t already obvious that Justin Timberlake’s new single, “Can’t Stop the Feeling!,” is vying to be this summer’s “Happy,” the music video for the song, from the upcoming DreamWorks Animation film Trolls, looks strikingly similar to the clip for Pharrell’s 2013 smash, which was also recorded for an animated film. Aside from its aspect ratio, there’s little to distinguish Timberlake’s video from that of the infuriatingly ubiquitous “Happy”: Both were shot in sunny Los Angeles and feature “regular” but charmingly eccentric people dancing in their local habitats, a concept that already felt trite three years ago. Directed by Mark Romanek, the man responsible for some of the greatest music videos of all time, “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” is, at best, an innocuous visual interpretation of an innocuous song. Coming from two titans of the industry, it’s a shockingly derivative, lazy bore.
1. “Classicist says quote of Virgil’s inscribed on 9/11 Memorial is ’shockingly inappropriate.’” The inscription, from Virgil’s The Aeneid, is more than just grim.
“As the New York Times’ David W. Dunlap points out, Virgil’s ’you’ actually refers to the characters, Nisus and Euryalus, two warrior-lovers who ’have just slaughtered the enemy in an orgy of violence, skewering soldiers whom [they] ambushed in their sleep.’ And for this massacre, Nisus and Euryalus are killed, their heads impaled on spears. Of the inscription at the 9/11 Memorial Museum, Helen Morales, a classicist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, told the Times, ’If we take into account its original context, the quotation is more applicable to the aggressors in the 9/11 tragedy than those honored by the memorial…So my first reaction is that the quotation is shockingly inappropriate for the U.S. victims of the 9/11 attack.’”
Last year I made the mistake of second-guessing the Academy’s recent trend of awarding the biggest selling album in this category, giving the edge to the Black Keys’ El Camino, which had been outsold by Mumford & Sons’ Babel by only half a million copies. Mumford’s (both initially and in retrospect, obvious) win, however, makes predicting this year’s victor all the trickier. Justin Timberlake, whose The 20/20 Experience was 2013’s top seller (even before the second volume’s scanned an additional 800K copies), failed to snag a nomination here, which leaves Taylor Swift’s Red as the category’s big kahuna. Trouble is, it’s unlikely NARAS will be so quick to award the country-pop ingénue with the top prize twice in four years. The last artist to pull off a double win was Paul Simon way back in 1987, and he had to wait more than a decade for the honor. [NOTE: As “lazarus” points out in the comments below, the last act to win two Album of the Year awards was actually U2 in 2006, and the gap was even longer than Simon’s.]
Starting tomorrow, we’ll predict the winners in all four General Field categories of the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, airing Sunday night on CBS. To kick things off, though, here are our thoughts on some of the smaller categories:
Best Pop Duo/Group Performance: If this category is indeed meant to honor performance and collaboration, it’s hard to argue with the crossover synergy of Robin Thicke featuring T.I. and Pharrell’s “Blurred Lines,” whereby Pharrell supplies the Marvin Gaye sample (plus those all-important head-bobs), while Thicke brings the yelps, grunts, and falsetto blue-eyed R&B flourishes that critics have admired for a full decade, even as Thicke failed to drop a #1 single. That single is here, and we suspect it means Thicke will be taking home at least one tchotchke on Grammy night. Ted Scheinman
- anthony hamilton
- armin van burren
- best alternative music album
- best dance recording
- best pop duo group performance
- best pop vocal album
- best r&b song
- best rap sung collaboration
- best rock album
- black sabbath
- blurred lines
- bruno mars
- calvin harris
- celebration day
- daft punk
- David Bowie
- florence welch
- Grammy Awards
- hesitation marks
- holy grail
- Jay Z
- justin timberlake
- kings of leon
- led zeppelin
- love and war
- magna carta holy grail
Last year’s biggest hits heralded the return of good times unto perpetuity, eternal youth and the enduring pleasure of receiving your first phone call from the set of washboard abs next door. Perhaps taking a cue from Britney Spears’s prescriptive “Till the World Ends,” maybe just drunk on borrowed time, 2013’s biggest singles took the pleasure principle to reckless new, solipsistic heights. It was the sort of year when the real-life counterpart to Mike Seaver could slick his thick hair up and let the devil horns sprout, betting the farm that nothing unlocks a good girl faster than “agreeing” with her with a wink in your eye that lets you both know you’re lying. Still, the year’s best tracks invariably stared down the lies of the moment and opted instead for sincerity and honesty. And the truth often hurts. This embittered sincerity gave listeners a whole new set of hashtags to test out in the hope that, next year, everybody will be dancing and be doin’ it right.
The music video for “TKO,” the second single from Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2, plays as a sort of reverse companion piece to the singer’s “What Goes Around…Comes Around.” The plot, presented non-chronologically in the seven-minute mini-movie, goes something like this: After unceremoniously banging his girlfriend, played by Lisa-Marie Presley’s actress-model daughter Riley Keough, on the kitchen counter (natch), she clocks him with a frying pan, ties him to the back of a pickup truck, and hauls him out to the desert. Aside from a few technical quibbles (the apparent day-for-night shots and the fact that JT creates very little in the way of a dusty wake despite being dragged at high speeds through the arid sand are a little distracting), the Ryan Reichenfield-helmed clip is far more inventive than the by-the-numbers song itself. It wouldn’t be giving too much away to say that things don’t end well for the former boy bander. Watch for yourself:
Okay, so it may only be a “musical” in the eyes of the Hollywood Foreign Press, but even the “bad” music is great in Inside Llewyn Davis, the Coen Brothers’ tuneful, bittersweet study of a deeply talented failure amid the 1960s folk scene. As is their wont, the Coens lay on the dry satire as they turn the likes of Hedy West’s “Five Hundred Miles” into an impossibly earnest sham, set in stark contrast to the rich and raw poetry of the titular artist’s (Oscar Isaac) soul-bearers. But, as arranged by incomparable music producer T Bone Burnett, and as performed by co-stars Justin Timberlake, Carey Mulligan, and Stark Sands, the West cover still sounds gorgeous in all its tongue-in-cheek squareness, and it’s one of many songs that could humble Les Misérables in regard to the “novelty” of singing live on film. Isaac’s tracks, which are each flawlessly sung in scenes that operate as sober, angelic interludes to the film’s irony, are, unfortunately, all covers as well, leaving them ineligible for Original Song consideration (it would have been swell to hear Isaac croon traditional ballads like “Dink’s Song” or “The Death of Queen Jane” on the Oscar stage, but that won’t be the case). The only eligible track appears to be “Please Please Mr. Kennedy,” a political parody song penned by Burnett, Timberlake, the Coens, Ed Rush, and George Cromarty, and performed by Timberlake, Isaac, and a quasi-beatboxing Adam Driver. The song is deliberately un-soulful, but it’s an absolute hoot, and it has a good shot here if only because voters will want to squeeze in some music from the film.
Someone tell Ted Cruz the Obamacare war is over.
The New York Times predicts your healthcare premium under Obamacare.
George H.W. Bush is witness to gay marriage.
Vince Gilligan and David Shore join forces for new series Battle Creek.
Watch the creepy opening credits to American Horror Story: Coven.