Friday, February 8, 2013

The Return of Timberlake

Justin Timberlake is the biggest music star in the world. And he’s been a music star (again) for a week and a half. You thought that ten-minute train wreck at halftime of the Super Bowl was a great performance? Everyone said it was. Great? Watching Beyonce lip sync in her underwear while they shot off lights and distractors? Justin would blow her off the stage. He’s the biggest music star in the world.

“Brian, you think JT’s bigger than Paul McCartney?” Of course not. Nobody's Beatles Big. In basketball terms, the Beatles are the NBA, Michael Jackson is Jordan, and Justin's Kobe. But they say you can’t sell CDs in today’s I-Tunes Market. Justin’s gonna sell ten million copies of his new release: the 20/20 Experience. Guarantee it. Why? Not only is he off-the-wall talented, he has the BEST people in music marketing him. For all three of his solo albums: JUSTIFIED, FUTURE SEX, and now 20/20, he has been remarketed as a completely different character. He was trucker-hat, open-flannel guy for JUSTIFIED, suit vest and sneakers for FUTURE SEX, and now he’s this mix of Sinatra, and Marvin Gaye, and Michael Jackson with 20/20. There’s nothing he can’t do in music.

As an actor? He sucked. He’s not an actor. He’s Elvis. He’s MJ. He’s Jagger. Is he Sinatra? He’s ten times better than Sinatra. Don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at Justin’s career. He sold eighty million albums by 26 years old, has ten songs in the Billboard top ten, has five number ones, has headlined three stadium tours, holds the 1st place and 2nd place records for most albums sold in first week of releases (both with NSYNC), he’s won Grammy’s, Emmy’s, and of course VMAs. Both JUSTIFIED and FUTURE SEX were nominated for Grammy's, JUSTIFIED for album of the year. So every solo album he’s ever made has been a commercial smash AND critically praised. (I admit he's never made an "epic" pop album. THRILLER was epic. CONFESSIONS was epic.) He’s worth a hundred-million dollars. And he just played a Pre-Superbowl concert: Three million for one hour. Name anyone else in music that gets that for one hour of work. He donated it to charity.

Remember when Justin was just another face in the whole Boy Band/Britney Spears/X-Tina/Eminem Music scene in the early 2000s? That group--like them or not--just flat out sold albums. And guess what? JT is the undisputed winner of that era. Why? Because he’s a better singer, dancer, performer, and song writer than any of them. Britney’s a nut job. When Eminem said “oops my CD just skipped and everyone heard you let one rip,” he was finished, and is Christina A. even still alive? Oh yeah, THE VOICE, big deal. The Backstreet Boys were a better “unit” than NSYNC, yes, but NSYNC had Justin, so they were better. When Justin was eighteen he was dating one of the most famous women in the world. Eighteen.

But it’s the way they market him that makes Justin a cut above. They put him out there with such a mysticism (i.e the “I’m Ready" Youtube video that got like 10 million hits) and they make it so you don’t want to miss his next move. For instance, his people won’t tell you what he’s going to perform at this Sunday’s Grammy’s, only that it’s a new song, and “sources say” a "can’t-miss performance." All that wording is orchestrated by Justin’s people. Does that same orchestration work with Katy Perry or the Beebs? I don’t think so. Justin plays the media so perfectly. And he's respected. David Letterman would never do to JT what he did to the Beebs. In the end, it'll be his career and Michael Jackson’s that rule over all others in Pop. Yes, I think JT’s that big, and I’ve known it from Day One.

I was 18 the first time I ever saw Justin sing. I was watching an HBO concert special, but I had never heard of Timberlake or NSYNC. But I knew--the second I saw him--that this kid was special, that he’d be around for the long haul. Fifteen years later he’s the biggest music star in the world, still.

Watch First Time I saw JT:

Watch: Suit & Tie Live Pre-Superbowl:

Brian Huba

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