Responsible for not one but a pair of US number one albums in 2013 – both parts of ‘The 20/20 Experience’ topped the chart stateside, with the first also hitting number one in the UK – Justin Timberlake is well and truly back in the music game after a period away. Seven years separate 2006’s ‘FutureSex/LoveSounds’ and ‘The 20/20 Experience’, the hiatus filled with golf, acting, philanthropy and general fame servicing. But the prodigal son of the 1990s boyband scene couldn’t keep quiet forever – and ‘The 20/20 Experience’ proved to be the biggest-selling album of 2013 in the States.
Clash went digging for some lesser-known factual nuggets about the megastar performer. And this is what we clawed from the digital earth of the internet…
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‘Mirrors’, from ‘The 20/20 Experience’ (2013)
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At the innocent age of 11, Justin dolled up in a 10 gallon hat and a plaid Western shirt to sing Alan Jackson’s ‘Love's Got A Hold On You’ for the American TV show Star Search, appearing as Justin Randall (Randall is his middle name). According to People Magazine, he did not win. (Watch the performance.)
Between the years of 1993 and ‘96, Justin starred in children’s variety television show The Mickey Mouse Club. During this time, he performed alongside other young starlets like Ryan Gosling, Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears. Timberlake roomed with Gosling during this period, and Gosling’s mother even acted as Timberlake’s legal guardian for a season of the show.
At the age of 16, whilst rising to success with ‘N Sync, Justin began dating Stacy Ann Ferguson. She was six years his senior, and the lead singer of a band called Wild Orchid. She is now more commonly known as Fergie, singer in The Black Eyed Peas.
In 2002, Justin became the first ever victim of Ashton Kutcher’s Punk’d show, in a prank described by TIME as one of the most Epic Moments In Reality TV History. The pop star was confronted by agents intending to repossess his cars, dogs and home, due to unpaid income taxes. Timberlake went through no little visual distress, before Kutcher appeared to reveal the prank. (Watch some pretty shaky footage.)
In an interview with E!, long time collaborator Timbaland revealed how ‘Cry Me A River’ came about. Following a heated phone call with his then-girlfriend Britney Spears, Timberlake arrived at the studio to work with Timbaland looking “visibly angry”. According to Timbaland, “I was like, ‘Man, don't worry about it,’ and he was like, ‘I can't believe she did that to me,’ and he was like, ‘You were my sun, you were my earth…’” These words became the opening lyrics to the song.
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‘Cry Me A River’, from ‘Justified’ (2002)
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Timberlake’s second major album tour, FutureSex/LoveShow, was the 37th most profitable tour by a musician of all time, grossing a total $126,800,000 across 119 shows in total. Some of the support acts included questionable pop-punk band Good Charlotte and former somebody Natasha Bedingfield.
‘That Girl’ on ‘The 20/20 Experience’ is co-written by Jamaican DJ and reggae musician King Sporty, real name Noel Williams. He’s best known for co-authoring the 1980 Bob Marley hit, ‘Buffalo Soldier’.
The title of ‘The 20/20 Experience’ is inspired by an incident involving a close friend’s first listen of the album. In an interview with American TV host Ryan Seacrest, the singer explained: “I was playing some of the stuff for my friends and they would come in and out of the studio and I'd say, ‘What do you think of this?’ And my best friend said, ‘This is music that you can see,’ and for some reason that stuck with me.”
Lou Pearlman, Timberlake’s former manager while in ‘N Sync, was arrested in 2006 for masterminding one of the biggest Ponzi schemes ever recorded in American history. It is believed that Pearlman rallied up debts of over $300 million by persuading banks and individuals to invest in companies that only existed on paper. In 2008, he was sentenced to 25 years in prison.
While working on her 2008 album ‘Hard Candy’, Justin was ordered by Madonna to drop his pants so she could administer a shot of vitamin B12 into his buttocks.
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‘TKO’, from ‘The 20/20 Experience – 2 Of 2’ (2013)
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Words: Joe Zadeh
Justin Timberlake tours the UK in March/April. Most dates are sold out, but should you fancy your chances…
30th – Motorpoint Arena, Sheffield
1st + 2nd – 02 Arena, London
4th + 5th – SSE Hydro, Glasgow
7th + 8th – Phones 4U Arena, Manchester
11th + 12th – LG Arena, Birmingham
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