He is pop music’s man of the hour. The first part of his double opus The 20/20 Experience was last year’s highest-selling album in the US. Nominated for several Grammys this year, the 32-year-old arrives in the capital riding high with critical and commercial success.
Loving Abu Dhabi since ’07
Look back seven years ago and the UAE concert scene was mostly a haven for classic acts peddling their greatest hits for the umpteenth time. In 2007, Timberlake gave the region a real shot in the arm with a sparkling set at Emirates Palace. The success of the show proved that UAE music fans hankered for something modern; promoters got the message, with Madonna, Justin Bieber, Jennifer Lopez and Bruno Mars making their way here over the years since.
Making pop not a dirty word
It was Timberlake who was largely responsible for pushing his former boy band ’N Sync away from the saccharine material of their early records towards more adventurous territory with their third and final album, Celebrity, in 2001. Teaming up with the young and hungry producers The Neptunes, Timberlake’s 2002 debut album Justified added off-kilter beats and a hip-hop attitude to the tame pop formula of the time. His follow-up, FutureSex/LoveSounds, released four years later, could have come out today and it would still have been praised for its dynamic songwriting. While the latest two-part album, The 20/20 Experience, may have come close to overindulgence, it once again demonstrated Timberlake’s interest in pushing pop music’s frontiers – this time by adding neo-soul and prog rock elements to the mix.
Makes the most of every appearance
The carefully scripted television guest appearance is not for him. Timberlake’s slots on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon and Saturday Night Live have been the stuff of TV legend. In 2010, Timberlake teamed up with Fallon to condense 30 years of hip-hop history into a dizzying three-minute musical medley that saw them perform excerpts from more than a dozen genre classics by the likes of Kool and The Gang, Dr Dre, Snoop Dog and Missy Elliott. The duo teamed up again recently in Saturday Night Live’s Christmas episode (with Fallon hosting and Timberlake as musical guest) to deliver the show’s biggest ratings of the year.
Before the suits and ties, Timberlake was rocking cornrow braids and puffy jackets. The kid wised up to adopt a less-is-more approach. Since 2007 he began ditching the accessories (thankfully no more furry fedoras) for more classic menswear items including his now signature dapper blazers and tuxedos.
• Justin Timberlake performs at du Arena on May 23. Ticket prices will be announced soon and will be available from www.ticketmaster.ae and select Virgin Megastores across the UAE from midday on Thursday. For more information go to firstname.lastname@example.org