A retrospective on JT's landmark sophomore solo album
September 8th, 2006. Justin Timberlake releases his much-anticipated second album FutureSex/LoveSounds to the masses.
Following on from that July's release of it's first single "SexyBack", which properly aligned us with JT's grown up sound - his debut solo album Justified in 2002 was a half-way point between his sugary N*SYNC days and the sexed-up lothario he would eventually become - but it wasn't until the full album was released did we experience the full gravity of his new direction.
Of the albums twelve tracks, ten were co-produced by Timberlake himself along with long-time collaborator Timbaland, and Timbaland's at-the-time protégé Danja.
Timbaland had provided Timberlake with "Cry Me A River", the stand-out track on his first album, and in the four years in between, reached his own in-demand peak by producing hits and the majority of albums for the likes of Missy Elliott ("Pass The Dutch"), Jay-Z ("Dirt Off Your Shoulder"), Brandy ("Afrodisiac"), LL Cool J ("Headsprung"), The Pussycat Dolls ("Wait A Minute") and Nelly Furtado's Loose, which also recently celebrated it's ten year anniversary.
While "What Comes Around... Goes Around" was the first track fully created by the trio - a song that Timberlake freely admits sounds like he's still got one foot in Justified - it wasn't until they came up with eventual second single "My Love" that they finally had a sound they wanted to go with for the remainder for the album.
Danja told Vibe Magazine on how he initially came up with the concept behind "My Love": "I heard dance and techno and was always interested in it but didn't really know where to go. But I went to a club one night and saw that people were losing their mind to these dance tracks. It wasn't really that I wanted to mimic that sound. I just wanted to have that energy and have people going crazy. So I knew the fusion was putting R&B with trance."
That mix of 'R&B with...' was the success behind most of the rest of the album, with 'R&B with New Wave and Industrial Rock' resulting in opening track "FutureSex/LoveSound", or 'R&B with (what JT calls) Club Funk' creating "SexyBack", while gospel music was incorporated into "Losing My Way", soul music in with "Damn Girl" and Minneapolis funk in with "Sexy Ladies".
In the studio, Timberlake and Timbaland declared that unlike his first album, which was using Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder for inspiration, the follow-up was aiming for the likes of David Bowie and Prince when creating the new sounds, resulting in an album that doesn't "sound like" anything, but instead is emulating artists that consistently created their own new sounds, which is exactly what FutureSex/LoveSounds was: a brand new sound.
It resulted in a 'pop'n'B' album with future-sounding beats that are still being emulated to this day, with that dichotomy in the title - hard-edged raunchiness combined with softly-does-it delivery - still visible in today's chart music from The Weeknd ("Can't Feel My Face") to Ariana Grande ("Into You").
Six singles from the album - on top of "SexyBack", "My Love" and "What Goes Around..." there was also "LoveStoned", "Until The End Of Time" and "Summer Love" - and it would be another six-and-a-half years before Timberlake would follow it up with The 20/20 Experience, and just another six months before he would follow that up with it's Part 2, neither of which successfully lived up to FS/LS.
It has since appeared on several "Best Of The '00s" album lists, and while JT has since moved on to a more prolific acting career, and the recent far poppier chart topper "Can't Fight The Feeling" - produced by Max Martin, the man who produced "Hit Me Baby One More Time" and "Oops! I Did It Again" for Timberlake's ex Britney Spears - indicates a new change in direction, evidently away from the cyber-sex sounding man he once was, he will forever and always be associated with FutureSex/LoveSounds, his one true classic album to date.