During a two-year hiatus, Timberlake resolved his feelings on being unable to record any new material, and as he returned to record some new music, he began collaborating with his longtime record producer Timbaland , alongside the latter's colleague Danja. The album's contents were produced at Timbaland's Thomas Crown Studios. Comes Around ". Many music publications considered it among the best albums of the s. Aside from earning numerous best-of-the-decade lists, the album received several Grammy Award nominations, including Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album , while its first four singles won in their respective categories. It has been certified multi-platinum in many countries worldwide, and has sold over 10 million copies, with four million in the United States. The album has been added to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 's musical library and archive. It is also considered by critics and fans to be one of Timberlake's best albums to date.
The pop star offers his ambitious, grandiose sophomore album: Almost entirely produced by Timbaland-- and with a more pronounced hip-hop edge than its predecessor-- the album abandons the feelgood sheen which the Neptunes peddled so adroitly on his debut, Justified , but makes up for it with the largesse of its sonic embrace. How Justin Timberlake must have sweated and strained over following his debut, Justified : As an album it was merely good, but it was graced by four singles so monumental they made him one of the decade's most celebrated pop icons. According to the laws of momentum which govern pop music, any sequel could only be either be a pale reflection or a hubristic monstrosity. Nothing is necessarily gained and often much is lost when pop music attires itself in notions of artistry and ambition, but with Justin it is, perversely, what makes him such a good pop star: As with Christina Aguilera, towering self-belief and stylistic metamorphoses provide a spectacle which papers over his stumbles and adds lustre to his successes. Almost entirely produced by Timbaland-- and with a more pronounced hip-hop edge than its predecessor-- the album abandons the feelgood sheen which the Neptunes peddled so adroitly on Justified , but makes up for it with the largesse of its sonic embrace, with Timbaland resurrecting many of his most effective guises, from rubbery synthetic funk to pseudo-crunk blare to eerie Eastern opulence. Throughout, the grooves are defined by their melodic intensity: It's the searing synth riffs and skyscraping strings which grab your attention, not stuttering beats or startling sound effects-- although these, too, are present in abundance. Here, Timberlake magnifies the persona he adopted on his debut, somehow both consummate lover and desperately needy. On hyperactive second single "My Love" his sexual propositions constantly elide into a proposal, as if anything less than matrimony is barely worth contemplating. Likewise, the suavely portentous title track-- poised between the carnal strut of Nine Inch Nails' "Closer" well, its verses and the masochistic flutter of the Junior Boys-- derives its charm from its lofty aspirations, like a familiar lover staging an elaborately exaggerated seduction. Songs which sound puzzlingly self-indulgent in isolation-- most obviously, the smirking, tenuously tuneful first single "SexyBack"-- are cloaked in a compelling intensity and purposefulness when played in succession.
Give Justin Timberlake credit for this: he has ambition. He drove the teen pop quintet to the top of the charts, far exceeding their peers the Backstreet Boys , and when the group could achieve no more, he eased into a solo career that earned him great sales and a fair amount of praise, largely centered on how he reworked the dynamic sound of early Michael Jackson at a time when Jacko was so hapless he turned away songs that later became JT hits, as in the Neptunes -propelled "Rock Your Body. Hell, a quick look at the titles of those first three songs shows some cracks in the album's architecture, as they reveal how desperate and literal Timberlake 's sex moves are. Each of the three opening songs has "sex" sandwiched somewhere within its title, as if mere repetition of the word will magically conjure a sex vibe, when in truth it has the opposite effect: it makes it seem that Justin is singing about it because he's not getting it. Surely, his innuendos are bluntly obvious, packing lots of swagger but no machismo or grace. They merely recycle familiar scenarios -- making out on the beach, dancing under hot lights, acting like a pimp -- in familiar fashions, marrying them to grinding, squealing synths that never sound sweaty or sexy; if they're anything, they're the sound of bad anonymous sex in a club, not an epic freaky night with a sex machine like, say, Prince. But Prince isn't the only idol Justin Timberlake wants to emulate here. Like any young man with a complex about his maturity, he wants to prove that he's an adult now by singing not just about sex but also serious stuff, too -- meaning, of course, that drugs are bad and can ruin lives. Like the Arctic Monkeys deploring the scummy men who pick up cheap hookers in Sheffield, Justin has read about the pipe and the damage done -- he may not have seen it, but he sure knows that it happens somewhere, and he's put together an absurd Stevie Wonder-esque slice of protest pop in "Losing My Way," where he writes in character of a man who had it all and threw it all away