Passion Blog #4: High School Memories, Courtesy of ‘The 20/20 Experience’

Throughout high school, I had my handful of go-to albums that basically guided me through my four years. Justin Timberlake has always put out hits, and this album is no different.  When this album comes on in my car, I am easily turning the volume up to full blast and rolling down the windows.  With its two-part release, ‘The 20/20 Experience’ always left fans (A.K.A. me) craving more.  Read along as I break down some of my favorite JT songs on this album, and the memories tied to them.

So, my first-ever car was a 2005 Volvo S40.  This car ONLY took CDs, which still makes me laugh to this day.  However, that’s one of my favorite memories of my beat-up car, because this album was one of the few CDs I could leave in and never want to change out for something else.  I also ended up buying the second half of the entire experience on vinyl, and I find myself reaching for it more often than I originally thought.  The jazzy styles mixed with Justin’s vocals make this album a hit in my eyes.

As with most albums, I am a fan of some of the more obscure songs.  For example, ‘That Girl’ is one of my favorites, drawing on some more soulful chords and sounds to connect with listeners. Justin sings about how it doesn’t matter where his girl comes from, he’s always going to love her, and high school me couldn’t get enough of it.  Billboard echoes this thought, writing that “as the bass continues creeping forward and Timberlake nods to the brass section, the song reaches “immaculate soul” status” (2013). 

Sticking with more obscure hits, ‘Blue Ocean Floor’ rounds out the album in an uncharacteristically somber way.   Justin Timberlake REALLY gets to show his range in this song, which makes it a stand-out for me.  Justin has called it his “Romeo and Juliet song,” basically saying that he sees two people sinking to the ocean floor and deciding if one of them is going to go, the other will join them on the descent.  Super eerie and haunting, but it is one of the more sentimental songs on the album.

On the other hand, ‘The 20/20 Experience: 2 of 2” has some absolute BANGERS to kick off the album.  ‘True Blood’ is one of my personal favorites, and it’s also one of the longest songs on the album, coming in at nine and a half minutes.  While the first part of the experience had more sentimental songs, ‘True Blood’ is an indicator of what’s to come in this half.  The beat is funky, the song shifts gears a few times throughout its runtime, and it makes for an overall groovy track.

Unfortunately, this half of the experience also has some songs that dropped the ball. Arguably one of the more well-known songs off the album, ‘Take Back the Night’ pretty much uses the same lyrics and stays at the same musical level throughout its six-minute length.  Without any fun rhythmic changes, the song falls flat compared to past releases and its other counterparts on the album.  Of the two halves, part two is given much more criticism from the public, but I found the songs perfect for my drives around Hunterdon County backroads.  I mean, I was driving a rundown car and lived in the middle of nowhere, so any chance I had to get my groove on, I took it!

Justin Timberlake has put out more songs since this drop in 2013, but if I had to listen to only one of his releases for the rest of my life, it would be this one.  This album was an important part of my high school lifestyle, and some songs can throw me back to specific moments almost instantly.  While it’s not my favorite album ever released, I’ll never pass up the opportunity to sing along to songs like ‘Pusher Love Girl’ and ‘Amnesia’. 

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