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Album Review: Justin Timberlake – ‘The 20/20 Experience’

justin timberlake 2020 experience e1362403118342 Album Review: Justin Timberlake   The 20/20 Experience

Easily one of the most anticipated albums of the year, there’s both a pressure and excitement that ushers in the release of Justin Timberlake’s comeback LP ‘The 20/20 Experience’.

Due in stores on March 18th, the ten-track set is the star’s first collection of new material since the super-selling ‘FutureSex/LoveSounds’ hit the charts almost seven years ago. And while it’s this very fact fueling this project’s hype, being an artist of Timberlake’s caliber means there’s also ample expectation of the songs housed on the album.

Naturally, then, That Grape Juice were elated to be among the few outlets invited to listen to the LP late last month in London town. Introduced by the man himself on the eve of the BRIT Awards, the album was played in its entirety – allowing us to taste, chew, and digest Pop’s most anticipated offering.

In the weeks since, the album has been streamed for the masses – with ample debate surrounding how good it actually is.

Ever keen to plough through the smoke and mirrors, That Grape Juice has your answer after the jump…

1) Pusher Love Girl: A titillating tease when premiered live recently, the studio incarnation of the cut makes for an equally lush listen. From its orchestral intro, to its rousing chorus, this falsetto-heavy number makes for a stellar album opener. Is it the LP’s best track? We’d say close, but no cigar. It does, however, sonically set the tone for the rest of the listening experience.

2) Suit & Tie (ft. Jay-Z): Still as polarizing a track today as it was upon release, for us this makes for a markedly better listen when played at dizzyingly loud decibels. Take from that what you will.

3) Don’t Hold The Wall: With its prominent “knock” and heavy use of vocal layering, this moody mid-tempo is – like much of the album- trademark Timbaland.

Convoluted in places (to the point where it’s sometimes hard to decipher what is being sung), the track still “works” on the strength of its production value. Indeed, like each song on the album, it boasts an outro that teeters on being a different song altogether – yet is the best of example of how such a concept can work. Initially a mellow groove, the track builds into a Reggae-esque climax that will have you doing the “bogle” and “butterfly” ‘til your joints hurt.

4) Strawberry Bubblegum: With lyrics such as “She’s my little strawberry bubblegum”, this is as empty as its title suggests. Filler.

5) Tunnel Vision: Another classic Timbaland offering, the track is a mid-tempo that manages to be busy in the best of ways. For, it serves up heavily stacked vocals, tribal sprinklings, and of course, ample use of “that” falsetto. The track’s only Achilles’ Heel is its length, which may leave many wondering where the end of the tunnel is.

6)  Spaceship Coupe: Standout alert! Musically, there’s little else that delights more than a track that lives up to the quirky demands of its title. As such, we were elated at how astronomically stellar ‘Spaceship Coupe’ is. From its radio-ready melody to its epic guitar solo, this has embedded within it the makings of a monster single. Timberlake sings “Welcome to my spaceship coupe, there’s only room for two”. In many ways we wish he was singing it to us, that way this gem of track could be our selfish little secret. Incredible.

7) That Girl: Motown-like and melody driven, ‘Girl’ is very much a sing-a-long-song affair. Timberlake belts “I’m in love with that girl, so don’t be mad at me” and after listening to this, we’d have no reason to be. Solid album track.

8) Let The Groove Get In: With its pulsating tribal intro, it’s clear from the start that the song’s title is more a command than it is a question. A hot pot of sounds, the track tackles “world music” with a contemporary flare – and will easily garner play in the club, on radio, and even at your local Salsa class! Infectious horns and cowbells leave the song ringing in one’s ear, while the catchy hook seals the deal. Timberlake chants “Are you comfortable (right there, right there). Let the groove get in!” One listen to this and you quite literally don’t have a choice. The best track on the album. Hands down.

9) Mirrors: Having just hit #1 on the UK charts without a video, it’s clear what the masses think of ‘Mirrors’. Does it innovate or titillate in the way other tracks on the album do? No. Yet, in tapping into the lyrical richness and sound that made ‘FutureSex’ such a hit, the mid-tempo serves as a safe, yet solid cut  that has appeased the singer’s fiercest followers in a way ‘Suit & Tie’ couldn’t.

10) Blue Ocean Floor: While the schizophrenic production sparkles at points, it doesn’t pack enough to elevate this beyond filler status. What’s more, its “last track” placing somewhat mars the solid sequencing of the album. Random positioning for a random track.

Conclusive:

With ‘The 20/20 Experience’, Justin Timberlake serves up a sonically cohesive set that potently sells the vision of who he is (or, at least, wants to be) artistically at this point of his career.

Is the album without fault? Of course not. Exhausting runtimes and pretentious intro’s and outro’s suggest the LP thinks it’s better than it actually is. Also, radio programmers may struggle to pin-point songs that are single-worthy. Indeed, the cuts screaming for “single treatment” here aren’t doing so because they meet a popular sound quota; it’s because they’re simply so good that they demand it. As such, when the hype has subsided, it’ll be interesting to see if radio keep spinning or tire of the song’s unstructured structure.

Whatever the case, the ‘Experience’ shines best as a body of work and should ultimately be celebrated as such.

That Grape Juice Rating:

3/5

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‘The 20/20 Experience’ hits stores in Europe on March 18th, and a day later in the US.

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 Your thoughts?

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47 Comments

  1. |
    March 4, 2013 at 8:44 am
    hive+navy=delusional says:
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    Lol kudos to sam, dats a mile stone but am sure when he was writing this article, smoke made of rainbow colors must have been emanating from his ass from the ecxtiment!!…lol he doesn’t get invited to this kinda of stuff often!!!

  2. |
    March 4, 2013 at 8:45 am
    bbbeey says:
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    Wheres the beyonce feature???

  3. |
    March 4, 2013 at 8:49 am
    My Forehead Tho says:
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    2 out of the 3 songs he has released/previewed have been amazing. After I heard ‘Mirrors’, I was sold.

    Unlike like other commercially successful artist, his album(s) is just that an album- not a compilation of singles. I’m buying it regardless of anybody’s review….

  4. |
    March 4, 2013 at 8:53 am
    Savannah says:
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    Is it just me or was the era rushed? And 10 tracks? Really?

  5. |
    March 4, 2013 at 8:55 am
    2bad2bme says:
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    I CAN NOT WAIT!!!

  6. |
    March 4, 2013 at 9:01 am
    Monstarebel says:
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    I have a feeling the album will be disappointing

  7. |
    March 4, 2013 at 9:21 am
    sammi says:
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    Im the girl who played the album “Justified” senior yr of high school until it couldnt play anymore lol, so clearly Im a fan. Im not so sure about this era though. Too much time has passed, way too much. I loved FSLS as much as Justified, which I still play to this day. Im not feeling Suit and Tie and that makes me feel bad cause I waited for a long time for a new Justin album.

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      March 18, 2013 at 10:41 am
      mob says:
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      AND THIS!! :-)

      I feel you although I will admit to not being his biggest fan. I do however enjoy his music from time to time and I am a bit disappointed! I was looking forwad to s*** Back or Cry Me A River not that crap S&T feat….ewww

  8. |
    March 4, 2013 at 9:27 am
    alessandro says:
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    why only ten tracks? damn

    • |
      March 15, 2013 at 9:59 am
      AdeleAdkins- Oscar Winner!! When will ur fav??? NEVER!! says:
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      Even so, The album is quite long for 10 tracks.

    • |
      March 18, 2013 at 10:53 am
      mob says:
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      I actually don’t mind ten songs if they were all of good quality. With all of the piracy artists (illegal downloads and leaked product) must deal with, if I were in the industry, I would only produce a CD containing between 8 – 10 songs!

  9. |
    March 4, 2013 at 9:34 am
    Kreayshawn says:
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    Man where this hype when my album was coming out??? Huh TGJ??? You guys let blacks disrespect me on here cause I was white now I’m gonna disrespect them. I can’t stand them chicken eating ass kisser they can suck my wet p**** for all I care. f*** them b**** ass monkey looking n*****.. They should have brought my album now my ass is having label trouble:( f****** broke ass n*****

    • |
      March 15, 2013 at 10:01 pm
      HIVE says:
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      This is your promo right here…

      comments! thats how you promote yourself….

      with anyluck you might get a first week sales of 2 copies!

      thats big for you!

      • |
        March 18, 2013 at 11:03 am
        mob says:
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        DAMN…..BANG, BANG….. LOL :-)

  10. |
    March 15, 2013 at 8:37 am
    COLE says:
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    I see that @KREAture stan is back!!!

    Anyway, I like Justin and will ever support him and his music, but…

    ‘Justified’ and ‘FutureSex/LoveSounds’ were the albums that made me a fan… This album is seriously not cutting it for me!!!

    :(

    • |
      March 15, 2013 at 12:53 pm
      Likica says:
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      I agree, his first two albums were amazing, but this one is disappointing. He had the biggest promotion for a new album (I am talking about this era), I mean he performed on every single show. If he doesn’t sell well, then.. :S
      I see that you stan for Madonna and Rih. What’s your favourite Madonna’s song?

  11. |
    March 15, 2013 at 8:44 am
    Lovebird says:
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    3/5??? f*** you Samantha, it deserves a 5/5. The problem with Samantha is he likes ghetto hoodrat anthems and does not appreciate talent.

    Anyway he’s expected to sell 500,000 first week, still mad?

    • |
      March 15, 2013 at 8:57 am
      COLE says:
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      YAAAAAAAS b****!!!

  12. |
    March 15, 2013 at 8:50 am
    Kate Middleton says:
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    Ugh!!!!!

    is anybody else tired of this guy this time around? at first i was excited but now i am dead tired of him.

    it all seems so rushed and it’s only ten tracks. i want to know why is he rushing like this? has he always been like this?

  13. |
    March 15, 2013 at 8:59 am
    COLE says:
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    I LOVE @SAMANTHA GIVES ALMOST EVERY ALBUM HE REVIEWS A 3/5!!!

    But, MAGICALLY, the only album that he has EVER given a 4 is BeTHEIFce’s ‘4LOP’!!!

    THE BIAS IS REAL!!!

  14. |
    March 15, 2013 at 9:42 am
    Kev says:
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    I heard the entire album it leaked 2 days ago n my best friend made us all cd’s. you cant really go by other peoples reviews because i thought the album was fantastic from top to bottom. Tunnel vison is my s*** for right now. Now is the Kreayshawn chick serious? Her comments are suppose to offend me but they just annoy me. N i hate when dummies say “brought” when they really mean “bought” grinds my gears

  15. |
    March 15, 2013 at 9:58 am
    ƸӜƷ MC ƸӜƷ says:
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    I agree with this rate. The album is a solid effort and is cohesive but it lacks that enticing factor that his last album had (or at least for me). The songs are way to long for a pop/R&B crossover album….. Songs like Strawberry Bubblegum, Suit&Tie, and Mirrors could’ve stayed as b-side for his last album. Pusher Love Girl, Tunnel Vision, and Let The Groove Get In are life though!

    It’s a solid effort and hopefully much success to him.

    • |
      March 15, 2013 at 10:04 am
      STERLING INFINITY (baby girl!) says:
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      i agree ^

      • |
        March 15, 2013 at 10:15 am
        BitchICan'tEvenSpellWelfare says:
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        I thought I was the only one who felt that way about “Mirrors” and “Strawberry Bubblegum.” “Mirrors” is so safe & uninteresting. “Strawberry Bubblegum” is just…those lyrics. That great beat deserved BETTER.

        For me, you can add “Spaceship Coupe” and “That Girl” to your list.

        Maybe I do agree with you & Sam: 3/5 or 3.5/5 like I said in my post.

  16. |
    March 15, 2013 at 10:00 am
    BitchICan'tEvenSpellWelfare says:
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    I think 3/5 is a bit low, but it’s definitely not a 5/5. I’d give it a 3.5/5 or 4/5.

    I absolutely disagree with what @Sam says about “Blue Ocean Floor.” THAT is the best song on the album. It is perfection. The most interesting song Justin has ever done.

    To people who keep saying 10 Tracks??!! Yes, it’s 10 tracks. The shortest song on the album is 5:26. The album is over 70 minutes long with 10 tracks.

    For those who haven’t heard it yet, you can still preview the album in its entirety on i-tunes I just looked.

    My Top 5 songs in order:

    1. Blue Ocean Floor
    2. Don’t Hold The Wall
    3. Let The Groove Get In (that 2nd movement SCREAMS Michael Jackson)
    4. Tunnel Vision
    5. Pusher Love Girl

    • |
      March 15, 2013 at 11:33 am
      JARREEZY says:
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      Yess Blue Ocean Floor Is Amazing My favorite track on the album

      • |
        March 15, 2013 at 11:59 am
        BitchICan'tEvenSpellWelfare says:
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        Tell them again about “Blue Ocean Floor!” Yess! lol! That song is sheer brilliance.

  17. |
    March 15, 2013 at 10:06 am
    STERLING INFINITY (baby girl!) says:
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    I was looking for something else visually at first but this is an album. He had a theme and followed it through, the songs are like chapters to me. Very old school in some ways. I dig it.

  18. |
    March 15, 2013 at 11:13 am
    POP ROYALTY ( RUDE BOY) says:
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    wait a f*****’ good minute in here , a f*****’ BARB is giving a JT album 3/5 ?!!!!!

    with songs like ” don’t hold the wall” and “let the groove get in” ?!!

    and you didn’t even listen to ” body count” yet ?!!!!

    WOW. 8O

    i bought it from iTunes ” the deluxe version ” plus the LP and it’s heaven !!

    3/5 , get the f*** out of here !! and “bubble gum ” is amazing !

    my rating is 4/5 for the standard edition and 4.5 for the deluxe edition because let me tell you : “Body count” is E V E R Y T H I N G you b****** :P

    *leaves*

  19. |
    March 15, 2013 at 11:26 am
    trucieb says:
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    I for one really do love the album. I have been listening to it non stop this whole week and I’ve got a few favs already. The vocals are on point and the runtime of each song makes up for there only being 10 tracks on the album. So no complaints on my end. To each his own. But for me it’s A+ across the board. No one else with the exception of very few artist is really giving us adult music. So I definitely appreciate what JT did on this album.

  20. |
    March 15, 2013 at 11:32 am
    Davide laffe(NYC/LA NIGHTLIFE PHOTOGRAPHER) says:
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    WOW.. a 3/5 i totally agree. when you rush to put out something.. theres always gonna be something missing. i like the album.. but it seem like it was rushed. and sounded like hot re-worked left overs of his last album. Listen to Jamie Woon’s -Mirrorwriting album… to be honest that was better than justing shocking and suprisingly

  21. |
    March 15, 2013 at 12:37 pm
    Matthew Charlery-Smith says:
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    Haven’t heard the album yet, but:

    I’m surprised you could give this album 3/5, Sam, when you gave Christina’s “Lotus” 4/5. How many missteps were on that album?

    Good review, but I think 3.5/5 would have been more credible.

    Btw, the album cover is ugly! It does nothing to capitalise on JT’s youth or looks. In a world of One Directions and Biebers this was a mistake.

    Ten tracks is also a no-no. 12 would have been more complete. He seems to have made up for it by having longer tracks but if, like “Mirrors” the last half of the songs is just mindless repetition, he may need to bring out some Disco 12″ to see how you can make an 8 minute song a journey to a destination rather than a ride on the roundabout.

    Kudos to Justin for not releasing 7 Deluxe versions with N’Sync lip balm, photos of him having his nappy changed in 1982 and 16 club remixes to get more sales.

    I hope he does well but I only see Platinum sales.

  22. |
    March 15, 2013 at 12:51 pm
    Nick says:
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    ugh he gave LOTUS 4/5? THA ALBUM IS TERRIBLE (her worst yet!) anyway, I played 20/20 all nite (it leaked, sorry) & THAT GIRL is my favorite, BUT the album is just OK for me, NOTHING hits me too hard like I am used to with him, he has on teh BONUS edition a song: BODY COUNT & it sounds like MADONNA hard candy era, its all TIMBALAND & I am NOT so sure that was smart, but ey he is JT, he will sell regardless, MIRRORS is a nice song, b/c it reminds u of what goes around, it is the new verion of that song-100%, LET GROOVE GET IN is fun & tunnel vision-spaceship coupe! SUIT & TIE of course is my banger, but the album as a whole is sumthin i will let just shuffle vice play the album alone….

    • |
      March 15, 2013 at 12:57 pm
      Likica says:
      Vote

      h** hush! Lotus is amazing, but I agree that it’s not her best album. My fav is Back to Basics, the whole image, performances, singles were flawless.

  23. |
    March 15, 2013 at 1:36 pm
    mc the place to be! says:
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    I heard target got some few extra tracks

  24. |
    March 15, 2013 at 2:32 pm
    maestro J says:
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    Why is everybody complaining about 10 tracks yall do know most great albums only have about that amount. THRILLER ONLY HAS 9 (OMG HOW COULD THE KING GIVE US 9 TRACKS!!!!!) LMAO

  25. |
    March 15, 2013 at 3:45 pm
    adanzinfool says:
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    I think this review is STELLAR. Like i feel the best part of the album is the production. Is this TimbaLAND’s best album? ABSOLUTELY! Is it TimberLAKE’S absolutely not. The lack of lyrical depth is astounding and disheartening. I just wish JT was a better songwriter. But this is by far Timbaland’s best production to date.

  26. |
    March 15, 2013 at 4:09 pm
    Denise says:
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    I was bored by this overrated, dated sounded mess. Sorry. The reason he will sell is due to the free publicity and anticipation that the media gives people like him, Rihanna & Beyonce regardless if the music is good or not. Also, the media will be forcing this down our necks until we have no choice but to like it.
    This is not a goo album it sounds like rehashed Aaliyah/Ginuwine and missy beats

    • |
      March 18, 2013 at 10:23 am
      mob says:
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      THIS!! :-)

  27. |
    March 15, 2013 at 4:22 pm
    Suicide Blonde says:
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    Best album of the year as of March 2013, b****** will deal, 500, 000 copies. lol.

  28. |
    March 18, 2013 at 10:21 am
    mob says:
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    YAWN! This CD will probably sell & if so it will be based on Justine Timberfakes status as a MEDIA DARLIN’! I’ve not heard one noteworthy song. I’ve never been a big fan of the little Mickey Mouse Club member but I can say, he has produced some great music in the past. ‘FutureSex/LoveSounds’ was a good CD but this 20/20 Experience crap is just not it……for me!

    With that said, YES he will win a Grammy along with Bey’s pet camel. YES he will win VMAs, AMA and even a BET Award for best male R&B artist! It’s sickening how fake and controlled the MUSIC-MEDIA MONOPOLY has the industry & everyone in it!

  29. Vote

    [...] echoed in our review of the ‘Experience’, we’re not sure the album meets the lofty expectations it [...]

  30. |
    March 19, 2013 at 8:47 pm
    nina says:
    Vote

    Another ten hit CD will be coming out soon. 10+10=20/20 :)

  31. Vote

    [...] and yet more evidence that Justin has the best of the best behind him – regardless of how debatable the material he’s churning out [...]

  32. |
    April 7, 2013 at 12:06 am
    TINA M. says:
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    The sample in spaceship coupe is baby let’s rap now by the Moments.

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