Just when Justin Timberlake was out, they pulled him back in – to music, that is. Timberlake has finally followed up his FutureSex/LoveSounds, released in 2006, with The 20/20 Experience, which sold 968,000 copies during its first week. Not too shabby, especially considering that Timberlake was not quite ready to redirect his attention to music any time soon.
“I don’t have a single song ready to go,” said Timberlake to Playboy back in May 2011, prompting some media outlets to jump the gun and announce that he was quitting music for good. “People keep asking me when a new song or album is coming out, and I don’t know what to say. Music is not my focus right now. It may be someday. It could happen next month or next year but right now it’s not where it’s at for me.”
Timberlake wanted to concentrate on acting. While getting back into music wasn’t entirely out of the question, it looks like his sudden return was spurred on not by a desire to jump back in, but rather out of a contractual obligation with Live Nation.
As it turns out, a cool $20 million was on the line in a concert deal the singer made with the live-events company back in 2009. In exchange for the cash, Timberlake would put out an album and go on tour. And the deadline for him to start touring was fast approaching. No 20/20 and no tour? No money. Timberlake would have had to cough up that cash big time. Instead, he whipped up The 20/20 Experience in three months.
One of the top bestselling albums of the past five years, The 20/20 Experience has not been as much of a hit with critics, almost all of whom have had a bone to pick with how lengthy the tracks are in comparison with the ones in FutureSex/LoveSounds and suggesting that the album feels rushed.
Still, the album is selling like hot potatoes, and regardless of what critics say, it’s the fans who have the last word. Love him or hate him, if this is what he manages to produce when he’s not even into it, one can only imagine what Timberlake will have in store for fans when his heart is finally back in the game.