Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Justin Timberlake - "Rock Your Body"

Justin Timberlake is cooler than you think he is, but not quite as cool as he thinks he is. He's cool enough to name his album FutureSex/ LoveSounds as an homage to OutKast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, but maybe not quite cool enough to realize that, as Stephen Thomas Erlewine puts it, "the OutKast album bore that title because it was two records in one." He's cool enough to try beatboxing, but maybe not quite cool enough to pull it off with credibility intact.

I was enjoying a leisurely countryside cruise with my brother a few years ago, listening to tracks on his iPod at random, when a catchy little R&B ditty came on. It sounded like prime late '70s Marvin Gaye or Michael Jackson. "Hey, this is good," I said. "Who is this?" "It's Justin Timberlake, 'Rock Your Body.' " Oh shit me. Did I really just admit that I liked...a Justin Timberlake song? He was in that boy band! Ewwww! But see, it was OK, because later I discovered that Pitchfork Media had chosen "Rock Your Body" as #23 on its year-end Best Songs of 2002 list. Liking a Justin Timberlake song could still be cool - but not too cool. Honestly I might like this song more than their choices for #1-#22.

There's a reason why "Rock Your Body" sounds like a rejected Michael Jackson song: it was a rejected Michael Jackson song. The bridge also reminds me a bit of Earth, Wind and Fire's "Let's Groove" (whoa - talk about a YouTube Clip That Lived Up To My Expectations). Apparently at one point in 2003, The Neptunes, the production team behind "Rock Your Body," were responsible for the production work on 43% of all songs being played on American radio. Encouraging, or disturbing? You decide.

I must also not neglect to mention that this was the indeed the tune that Timberlake and Janet Jackson were performing during Super Bowl XXXVIII when he proceeded to rip off her bodice and supposedly "expose" her right breast to untold millions. And what is cooler than offending millions of Americans en masse?

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