Tunes for Tuesday: Justin Timberlake
This is not ‘NSync, this is Justin Timberlake. (Though I will accept arguments that Pop is in fact the latter rather than the former.) To celebrate the release of The 20/20 Experience (which is growing on me like a fungus), I thought we’d take a pass at some of his better solo efforts.
There are at least seven layers of simultaneous activity in the song: it’s as if Timbaland wanted to see how much he could pile on without creating atonality. First there is an arpeggiated keyboard figure, followed by male voices singing a bit of Gregorian-style chant. Next comes a steady, sombre pattern that sounds a little like the minor-key vamp in Ellington’s “East St. Louis Toodle-Oo.” Below it are four bass notes, recurring in chacona style. Now the angelic Timberlake enters, together with a more nasty-minded rhythm section, a vaguely Indian-sounding synthesized string orchestra, and, finally, sped-up versions of all the above.
In sum, “Cry Me a River” may be the most polyphonically complex teenybopper ballad in history.
Of course, Justified wasn’t all about impressing the heck out of those who write for Eustace Tilley. There was fun stuff too.
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