The evolution of Justin Timberlake

Ahead of Trousersnake’s Yas Island debut, we take a critical look at his career to date

Ahead of Trousersnake’s Yas Island debut, we take a look at his career to date. Words Caroline McEneaney.

Justin Timberlake’s audible prowess has seen him enjoy a longer career than maybe anyone could have foreseen. From his boyband beginnings to critically acclaimed solo career that has seen genre-skipping hit records to an acting career met with similar plaudits, he’s known as the boy that can do little wrong. The only blot on his copy book for Dubaians is that he chose Yas Island as the UAE stop of his world tour.

Quibbles aside, we’ve taken a moment to remember the metamorphosis of the former Disney star.

Timberlake got his start as a cast member of The Mickey Mouse Club (MMC), an American variety television show that was on and off air from the late 1950s to the mid 1990s. In 1995, Justin recruited JC Chasez from the MMC cast to join him in a new venture, an all-boy pop group that was being put together by former producer Lou Pearlman.

The band chose the name ‘N Sync after Justin’s mother remarked at one of their rehearsals that the five boys were ‘in sync’. Their first album, which was self-titled was released in 1997 and proceeded to sell 11 million copies. It featured the hit singles, ‘Tearin’ Up My Heart’, ‘Here We Go’, and ‘I Want You Back’. The group’s second album No Strings Attached, featured songs such as ‘It’s Gonna Be Me’, and ‘Bye Bye Bye’, while their third record, ‘Celebrity’, brought the group’s total sales to more than 50 million copies – making ‘N Sync one of the bestselling boy bands in history.

In 2002, ‘N Sync had a hiatus while Justin’s career flourished with the release of his solo single ‘Like I Love you’ from his first album Justified. The record debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 chart and sold seven million copies worldwide. The next year, Justin went on tour with fellow pop star and former MMC cast member Christina Aguilera, naming the show Justified/Stripped after their respective albums.

A few months later, Justin performed alongside Janet Jackson at the 38th annual Super Bowl half-time show. The infamous performance featured an accidental ‘wardrobe malfunction’ – a term performers used in their apology. It’s since occupied a spot in pop culture vernacular. After the Super Bowl drama, Justin took a break from his musical career to focus on acting. Over the next two years he honed his on-screen skills with parts in the films Alpha Dog, Black Snake Moan, Southland Tales and Shrek the Third.

In 2006, Justin released his second studio album FutureSex/LoveSounds. The record debuted at number one on the Billboard charts and featured songs such as ‘SexyBack’ and ‘What Goes Around... Comes Around’. It received positive reviews from major reviewers including the New York Times. By then Justin was tired of the music industry and reverted into acting. He took on a starring role alongside Mike Myers and Jessica Alba in The Love Guru, which received unfavourable reviews. But his next major film project secured his reputation as a respectable actor in his own right when he played Sean Parker in Aaron Sorkin’s The Social Network in 2010. From there, he went on to co-star in several more films including Bad Teacher, Friends With Benefits and Runner, Runner. Reviews of Justin’s movies and his performances ran the gamut from positive to extremely negative and soon even Justin had to agree – announcing his return to the music industry in January 2013.

Justin’s third and fourth studio albums The 20/20 Experience and The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2, put him back on the map, with the former becoming the bestselling album of 2013 in the US. While the latter album received a lukewarm reception compared to its predecessor, it was a success, debuting at number one in the US and selling more than 800,000 copies in four months.

Currently on a world tour promoting his latest album, Justin’s arrival at Yas Island marks his first performance in the UAE capital. With an arsenal of hits, the show is looking to be a crowd-pleaser for all ages. Expect a spectacle of high-energy, tightly cheorographed dance sets and one or two of your favourite earworms.
Justin Timberlake live in Abu Dhabi. From Dhs395. May 23. Du Arena, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. Tickets from and Virgin Megastore, various locations including Mall of the Emirates, Al Barsha
(04 341 4353)

What will he sing? We give our predictions
•‘Mirrors’ The most successful release from The 20/20 Experience. It was the second single, but managed to reach the top 10 in 23 countries

•‘Cry Me a River’ Justin’s second single as a solo artist; this song was inspired by Justin’s break-up with pop icon Britney Spears

•‘What Goes Around... Comes Around’ Sometimes described as a sequel to ‘Cry Me A River’, this song was an international success and won Justin a Grammy for best male pop vocal performance

•‘Suit and Tie’ The first single since his second acting hiatus. With this song, Justin proved that not only had he not lost his musical talent, he’d become more fine-tuned

•‘Take Back the Night’ is the first single from Justin’s latest album. As this is one of his newest songs, we wouldn’t be surprised if it took the spotlight – we reckon he’ll likely save the tracks mentioned above for the coveted encore.

Pre-gig stopoff?
A perennial favourite with a pre-concert crowd thanks to the large garden and super-long bar.
Open daily noon-1am. Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi (02 656 3053).

Stars ‘N’ Bars
A five-minute taxi/ten minute walk from the du Arena and an attractive terrace make this a decent choice.
Open Sun-Wed noon-1.30am; Thu-Sat noon-2.30am. Yas Marina (02 656 3053).

The rooftop terrace is so appealing you may miss the show.
Open daily 6pm-1am. Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi (02 656 0600).

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