When Justin Timberlake was born on January 31st 1981, the climax that resulted was immediately followed by a great sense of catharsis. Because for days, everybody knew that something momentous, something significant was going to happen. A swallow heralded the birth. A triple rainbow hung over Memphis for days. Three strangers were arrested outside the family property, for trying to find the baby who would be “in sync”. All of Tennessee stood still, in awed anticipation of what the promised child would bring.
And he did not disappoint: as you well know, reader, his music was the stallion that mounted the world. But we should not forget that the J man is oh so much more than this. Justin Timberlake is an accomplished polymath: a true Renaissance Man. Over the course of an impressive career, he has been a successful Actor (The Love Guru, Alpha Dog), Voice Actor (Yogi Bear), Executive Producer (‘N Sync & Britney Spears: Your #1 Video Requests… And More!), Soundtrack Artist (Yu-Gi-Oh: The Animated Series, WWF Raw is War), Tour Concept Creator (Justin Timberlake: One Night Only (note: he did actually credit himself with this))… the list goes on.
I am of course being sarcastic. To put it mildly, Justin Timberlake and his music are a blight on humanity. We have a moral duty to despise and condemn the toxic, populist drivel he spoonfed us as children. But should we hate Justin Timberlake himself? I don’t think so. Hate the song: not the singer. Like the human eye, Justin Timberlake is evidently too complex not to have been designed. And like any fire that ravages homes and destroys lives, in the early 2000s Justin Timberlake needed fuel. Don’t you see? It’s us. Only us. If you want someone to blame for Justin Timberlake, look no further than your bathroom mirror. By which I mean, you are to blame for Justin Timberlake. You the consumer. I hope that’s clear.
Alas, even with this insight, it is already too late. JT was one of the last of a long list of failed prototypes, starting with The Monkees (who had to be gassed after only six months). The pop star formula was perfected over five years ago: and now the T-1000 lurks in all of our record stores, ever-shifting, waiting to impale and assimilate the next naïve young independent artist to stumble into the charts. The X-Factor. Britain’s Got Talent. If you were wondering, the secret ingredient for this unstoppable death machine (the ingredient that previous models like Justin lacked) is the illusion of consumer participation. Because now, we all have a vested interest in being shafted by the music industry every fucking Christmas.