Throughout the 2000s, Justin Timberlake has given us some pretty chill songs. In between his lukewarm movies and moments of media blitz, Justin has been extremely successful at redefining pop music. His controversial departure from NSNYC in 2002 was only the beginning of a very different public image for Justin. Of course, it goes without saying that his 2004 Super Bowl incident was a major contributor to the reason that the public perceived him in such an adult way. When it comes to his music though, Justin has been the king of singing sexy and ambitious love songs that instantly feel likable. It feels like the proper time now to commemorate some of his best work so far.
1. “Pusher Love Girl”
This first song off of The 20/20 Experience is such an amazingly sweet love song that it perfectly summarizes the ambitions of the entire album. The song’s parallel narrative of a girl being the emotional equivalent of hard drugs makes for an extremely satisfying song. Also, with the length of the song running at eight minutes, there is an even better B side to to this song’s A side.
Back in the day, Justin Timberlake changed the radio pop game with his song “SexyBack.” This song was not only slick beyond belief but also felt like something from the not so distant future. This song was a strong enabler of the radio EDM movement that followed its release. Some might have considered this song sort of absurd but it’s no secret that everyone found this song to be somewhat of a guilty pleasure.
3. “Cry Me A River”
Justin Timberlake sure does know how to sing a great break-up song. His anger about his ex’s desire to get back together is almost palpable in this song. This was yet again another great song to kick off his triumphant career.
4. “My Love” (ft. T.I.)
While maintaining his usual sexy overtones, Justin succeeds in creating a very modern love song. This song’s forward beat and lyrical description of a love that works very well makes it a stand out in Justin’s body of work. Not to mention, T.I. was still at the top his game when this song was recorded.
Justin genuinely cares about whoever this working class girl is in this song. Throughout this track, Justin’s jazzy music mixed with empathetic and almost heroic lyrics make for a very cool and low key sound. Keep in mind, this was the first song that we heard from him after splitting away from NSYNC. In retrospect, this was the perfect song for the moment.
6. “Drink You Away”
In the ultimate “morning after” song, Justin mourns the disappearance of his overnight lover. The country vibe in this song calls back to his roots in Memphis and also manages to broaden the horizons of this usually urban-leaning artist. On the oft-skewered 20/20 Experience (2 of 2), this song shines out as a very bright spot.
Did I mention “Mirrors”? Back in the summer of 2013, “Mirrors” was everyone’s jam. It had everything that would make it a straight-out-of-the box radio hit: love, a catchy melody, and great vocals. I do have to say though that radio listeners were missing out on the sensual bliss of the B side of this lengthy track.
8. “Not A Bad Thing”
Unlike much of the rest of Justin’s music, “Not A Bad Thing” is a warmly romantic song that feels as pure as freshly fallen snow. In my opinion, this is his best song ever. This song truly lets his talents shine while providing fans with a song that feels ready for Valentine’s Day. In the future, I hope Justin will do more songs just like this.