The evolution of Justin Timberlake

We profile the chart sensation ahead of upcoming Abu Dhabi gig

The evolution of Justin Timberlake
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The evolution of Justin Timberlake Image #3
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...and it’s not just the weather. Justin Timberlake’s upcoming show on Yas Island promises to knock your suit and tie off.

Justin Timberlake got his start as a cast member of The Mickey Mouse Club (MMC), an American variety television show that was on and off air from the late 1950s to the mid 1990s. In 1995, Justin recruited JC Chasez from the MMC cast to join him in a new venture, an all-male, five-member pop group that was being put together by former producer Lou Pearlman.

The band chose the name ’N Sync after Justin’s mother remarked at one of their rehearsals that the five boys were ‘in sync’. Their first album, which was self titled, was released in 1997 and proceeded to sell 11 million copies. It featured the hit singles Tearin’ Up My Heart, Here We Go and I Want You Back.

The group’s second album No Strings Attached featured songs such as It’s Gonna Be Me and Bye Bye Bye, while their third record, Celebrity, brought the group’s total sales to more than 50 million copies – making ’N Sync one of the bestselling boybands in history.

In 2002, ’N Sync went into a hiatus as Justin’s career flourished with the release of his solo single Like I Love you from his first album Justified. The record debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 chart and sold seven million copies worldwide. The next year, Justin went on tour with fellow popstar and former MMC cast member Christina Aguilera, naming the show Justified/Stripped after their respective albums.

A few months later, Justin performed alongside Janet Jackson at the 38th annual Super Bowl half-time show. The infamous performance featured an accidental ‘wardrobe malfunction’ – a term the performers used in their apology and which has since occupied a spot in pop culture vernacular.

After the Super Bowl drama, Justin took a break from music to focus on acting. Over the next two years he honed his on-screen skills with parts in the films Alpha Dog, Black Snake Moan, Southland Tales and Shrek The Third.

In 2006, Justin released his second studio album, which debuted at number one on the Billboard charts and featured SexyBack and What Goes Around... Comes Around. It received positive reviews from The New York Times and other major critics.

By then, Justin was tired of the music industry and dove back into acting. He took on a starring role alongside Mike Myers and Jessica Alba in The Love Guru, which received unfavourable reviews. But his next major film project secured his reputation as a respectable actor when he played Sean Parker in 2010’s The Social Network. He went on to co-star in Bad Teacher, Friends With Benefits and Runner, Runner. Reviews of Justin’s performances ran the gamut from positive to negative and soon even Justin had to agree: he announced his return to the music industry in January 2013.

Justin’s third and fourth studio albums The 20/20 Experience and The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2, put him back on the map, with the former becoming the bestselling album of 2013 in the US. While the latter received an underwhelming critical reception compared with its predecessor, it was a commercial success, debuting at number one in the US and selling more than 800,000 copies in less than four months.

Now on a world tour promoting these latest albums, Justin Timberlake will make a stop on Yas Island for his first performance in the UAE capital. With an arsenal of hits and his highly acclaimed dance moves, the show is looking to be a crowd-pleaser for all ages. Expect high-energy dancing and, of course, one or two singalongs.

Call yourself a fan?

See if you can pick out which lyrics are Justin’s and which are from his boyband days in ’N Sync
1 ‘We got the gift of melody, we gonna bring it till the end.’

2 ‘Yesterday is history, tomorrow’s a mystery.’

3 ‘Got time, but I don’t mind.’

4 ‘Twenty thousand miles away but I can see ya, and baby baby you can see me.’

5 ‘Every time we’re down, you can make it right.’

JT’s best moments

1 Pretty much any of his Saturday Night Live (SNL) songs with Andy Samberg. JT has hosted Saturday Night Live five times – a number that places him among the ranks of Steve Martin, Paul Simon, Chevy Chase and Tom Hanks. His musical collaborations with comedian and former SNL cast member Andy Samberg have become some of the most watched skits in the show’s repertoire – even making it to the top 10 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 50 greatest Saturday Night Live sketches of all time.

2 When Justin Timberlake became the first celebrity to be ‘Punk’d’ by Ashton Kutcher on his MTV prank show. Kutcher and co-prankster Dax Shepard set up a fake government seizure claiming that the popstar owed USD$900,000 in taxes. Justin, while remaining polite as always, broke down as he watched his belongings, including his cars, instruments and pets, being carted away. The moment he realises he’s being pranked is priceless.

3 His knockout 15-minute performance at the 2013 Video Music Awards. Justin was awarded the MTV’s video vanguard award and treated the audience to a medley of his greatest hits including Take Back the Night, My Love, Senorita and Rock Your Body. The highlight, however, was the long-awaited reunion of Justin’s boyband ’N Sync. To the surprise of all in attendance and watching at home, his four band-mates suddenly appeared on stage and performed Girlfriend and Bye Bye Bye.

4 His unforgettable relationship with pop princess Britney Spears. This superstar couple dated from 1999 to 2002. While their sudden breakup upset teenyboppers everywhere, it left the world with one of Justin’s first solo hits, Cry Me A River and featured some of fashion’s most questionable moments including their matching denim outfits at the 2001 American Music Awards.

5 Less of a moment and more of a phase, the last spot has to go to the unforgettable bright yellow curly hair that Justin sported circa 2000. Often compared to spaghetti, the hairstyle quickly disappeared once Justin went solo.


TOAD predicts Justin’s Du Arena set-list
• ‘Mirrors’ The most successful release from The 20/20 Experience. It was the second single, but managed to reach the top 10 in 23 countries.

• ‘Cry Me a River’ Justin’s second single as a solo artist was inspired by Justin’s break-up with pop icon Britney Spears.

• ‘What Goes Around... Comes Around’ Sometimes described as a sequel to ‘Cry Me A River’, this song was an international commercial success and won Justin a Grammy for best male pop vocal performance.

• ‘Suit and Tie’ The first single after his second acting hiatus. With this song, Justin proved that not only had he not lost his musical talent, but that he’d also become more sophisticated and fine-tuned.

• ‘Take Back the Night’ The first single from Justin’s latest album. As this is one of his newest songs, we wouldn’t be surprised if it took the spotlight – we reckon he’ll save the tracks mentioned above for the coveted encore.

If it suits JUSTIN...

Looking for a way to declare your super-fan status? Give your nails a suit and tie. From now until the concert, The Nail Spa is offering a Justin Timberlake-inspired nail art – Dhs20 per nail and Dhs150 for the set.
The Nail Spa, various locations, including The World Trade Center Mall (600 544 001).

Need to know

Date May 23
Venue Where else? Du Arena, Yas Island
Book it Tickets from Dhs395 – visit or UAE Virgin Megastores

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