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Music Reviews

MPAA Rating
Genre
Pop, R&B, EDM/Electronica/Techno
Performance
Debuted at No. 1 with first-week sales of 350,000.
Record Label
RCA
RELEASED
September 27, 2013
Reviewer
Adam R. Holz
Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake

The 20/20 Experience - 2 of 2

Justin Timblerlake's first new musical effort since 2006, The 20/20 Experience, was also the top-selling album of 2013 as Timberlake-starved fans snapped up nearly 2.5 million copies of the former 'N Sync singer's comeback. Just six months later, JT followed up that album with a second batch of 20/20 songs he wanted fans to experience, once again melding his supple, soulful tenor with dreamy, synthesized, dance-ready R&B stylings (largely courtesy of producer and frequent collaborator Timbaland).

Pro-Social Content

"You Got It On" compliments a woman's beauty ("Everything you put on looks better on you than the one you tried on before"). "Not a Bad Thing" imagines a couple's forever future ("Said all I want from you is to see you tomorrow/And every tomorrow/ … And is it too much to ask for every Sunday/And while we're at it, throw in every other day of the year?"). "Pair of Wings" finds a man wishing he could lift his lady out of her struggles ("If I had a pair of wings/I'd scoop you up, we'd fly away and disappear/Then you could put your worries upon my shoulders, my dear").

Objectionable Content

The first six songs focus almost exclusively on sex. Some of the nastiest moments are found on the third track, "Cabaret," on which Timberlake and guest contributor Drake envision a woman putting on a private sex show for them. Timberlake tells his sex-hungry partner she doesn't have to rush to orgasm and instead should spend more time satisfying his own lust ("How can we discuss/How fast you just got undressed/Girl, if sex is a contest, you're coming first/ … Don't rush, go slow/ … Put on a show, get on the floor/ … You giving me everything you got/All I really want is more"). Drake profanely sleazes up the proceedings further: "I'm gonna f‑‑‑ you like we are having an affair." A nod to S&M creeps in when he adds, "I swear it's like I'm undercover the way I'm cuffing you."

"True Blood" steamily pictures vampires coupling and drinking each other's blood ("She's got that true blood/I come around and raise the h‑‑‑ out of you/It's the demon next to me that's got me screaming/Make me wanna build a coffin for two/ … I taste your blood/And found out you was the perfect fit"). "Gimme What I Don't Know (I Want)" instructs a lover to "get closer to your animal inside," then suggests she should unleash those primal instincts.

S-word-laden "TKO" finds Timberlake lamenting that his girl might have cheated on him. But that doesn't keep him from employing a carnal strategy to patch up their conflict-filled relationship ("Baby, now I don't really know what we're fighting for/This rematch sex is amazing"). "Take Back the Night" (which boasts a title that prompted immediate criticism from an identically named anti-rape foundation) suggestively details an all-night soiree of sultry, sweaty dancing that more than likely ends up transitioning from vertical to horizontal. That song also throws caution to the wind when it comes to the consequences of a couple's choices ("Stay out here living the life/Nobody cares who we are tomorrow").

"Murder" metaphorically describes a woman's "killer" curves in homicidal terms ("Might end a man's life with that innocent face/'Cause everything below your neck killin' everything next/It's murder, murder"). Then it flirts even more with combining death and sex imagery ("You killin' me softly, but we can go as hard as you want to/Bed's way under the ground, under the ground"). Guest Jay Z's brief contribution manages to squeeze in two s-words, one f-word and a use of "p‑‑‑y" in a crude verse about how Yoko Ono's anatomy ultimately resulted in The Beatles' dissolution.

More f- and s-words turn up on several other tracks as well. "Drink You Away" narrates the sad story of a man who finds that no amount of alcohol is enough to dull the pain of a breakup.

Summary Advisory

The first Experience poured a stream of romantic gushing out into a sea of sensually suggestive material. The second? Let's just say it's a very big ocean Mr. Timberlake is swimming in.

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