What is Justin Timberlake's appeal?

What is Justin Timberlake's appeal?

I like Justin Timberlake.

You like Justin Timberlake.

EVERYONE likes Justin Timberlake.

That's the whole point of JT.

The guy just blew through the Billboard Music Awards like a handsome hurricane, taking home a total of seven trophies including Top Artist, Top Male Artist and Top R&B Album for The 20/20 Experience.

The Billboard Music Awards, unlike the Grammys, is basically a popularity contest.

Winners are chosen according to their album sales, digital downloads, radio airplay, touring and social media interactions.

Add all that stuff up and it turns out that Timberlake gets more love than any other pop star out there.

I kinda get it.

But also, I kinda don't get it.

We play a lot of Justin Timberlake every day on Maddy, Jason and Arnold in the Morning, my breakfast radio show on Kiss92.

Whether you like the old stuff from his 'NSync days or the newer solo stuff, we've got you covered.

I hear an awful lot of JT on the job, and as much as I admire and respect his success, I can't help but wonder about it.

Why him?

To me, Timberlake has a very reedy, nasally voice. It sounds reasonably nice, but it has no drama or depth or texture.

For example, Mirrors is a very nice song but I can't figure out how it's supposed to make me feel.

Is it happy? Is it sad? What is it?

I have this same problem with all his songs. How are they supposed to make me feel?

In his new collaboration with Zombie Michael Jackson, Love Never Felt So Good, it becomes very clear very quickly who's got the goods.

True to the tune's title, it makes you feel SO GOOD.

It makes you feel like moving.

It makes you want to smile.

It's unambiguously joyful.

Timberlake has to struggle in the song to match Jackson's effortless grooviness.

Every song that Jackson sang, the emotion of the story came through.

From the tenderness of Ben to the sass of Bad, Jackson was a master communicator.

Even when his hologram performed at the Billboard Music Awards, it was mesmerising, creepy and cool all at once.

Zombie Michael Jackson has more personality than JT.

It's not that Timberlake isn't good, it's just that he's not THAT great.


This article was first published on May 21, 2014.
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