Review: ‘The 20/20 Experience’ deserves a 20/20

Ryan Morris

Editor’s Note: The following reflects the opinions of the author.

Justin Timberlake’s “The 20/20 Experience” is a nearly flawless album, from the first bars of “Pusher Lover Girl” to the end of the uncharacteristically melancholy, but still wonderful, “Blue Ocean Floor.”

It is clear that Timberlake and his team took great care with each song on “20/20” – the shortest piece on the album lasts just under five minutes, and the longest is more than eight minutes.

Standouts on the album include dance hit “Suit and Tie,” which features Jay-Z, and the eight-minute-long pop/ballad/R&B/perfection song “Mirrors,” which will probably become this summer’s can’t-get-it-out-of-my-head rekindling of the hit “Sexy Back.”

But it feels like many of the songs on the album run unnecessarily long.

“Pusher Lover Girl” has the making of a great three-minute pop hit, but it clocks in at around eight minutes, which seems excessive. Though it’s a fun song, the magic was lost around minute four.

The same thing happens with “Spaceship Couple” and “Don’t Hold the Wall,” though the latter still has staying power as a hit song.

The two songs on “20/20” that will definitely prove they have staying power are “Suit and Tie” and “Mirrors,” the golden song of “20/20.”

“Mirrors” is kind of a ballad, if ballads can be highly synthesized and make you want to dance.

“Blue Ocean Floor” is the most interesting song on the album. Whether or not it is the best one depends on your taste, but it certainly takes a different turn for the pop singer and shows real vocal talent.

Smooth R&B beats and crooning vocals show Timberlake’s audience a side of the pop idol they’ve never seen before – a side that maybe shouldn’t have taken the entire album to get to. But hey, it was still a great dance album to listen to while we waited.

As the Renaissance Man of 21st century pop music, Timberlake has done what very few former boy-banders have managed to do: evolve into an artist that isn’t embarrassing to admit you like.

Yes, his music is silly and shallow, and lyrics like “Baby please don’t change nothing/ because your flavor’s so original” from the song “Strawberry Bubblegum” kind of venture a little too far into the Ke$ha and Britney Spears realm of terrible grammar and candy love metaphors. But pop in “The 20/20 Experience,” and you’re guaranteed to get your groove on.

Rating: Four out of four stars.

Story: EMMA SPECKMAN, A&E Reporter