I was listening to “Innervisions” by Stevie Wonder yesterday. Stevie was 23 when that album was released. Thinking back on all my life experience, it’s pretty impressive that someone was able to put out such a work of genius at such a relatively young age. Then I thought more, and realized that maybe that was not so unusual: after all, the Beatles were all still in their twenties when they broke up in 1970. George Michael’s “Listen Without Prejudice” came out when he was 26. Hell, when “Off the Wall” came out, Michael Jackson wasn’t even 21 yet. I’m certainly not a songwriter, but by the time I reached my mid-twenties, I was certainly capable of putting together thoughts that involved deeper issues than sex and money.
So what the hell is up with Justin Timberlake? Dude is what, 29 now? I mean, I like the guy, but there’s the sense that he’s maybe just a wee tad overrated? “Futuresex/Lovesounds” was a good album, but it was nothing that people who’d been listening to Michael, Prince and Rick James for years hadn’t already heard. And if you read some of the lyrics to the songs (“Losing My Way” in particular), they’re fucking AWFUL!!! I remember reading a Rolling Stone article where someone said that Justin (like Jay-Z, BIG and Lil Wayne allegedly) doesn’t write down lyrics. Maybe he should start, eh?
Anyway, Justin’s latest musical effort is a collaboration with his constant partner Timbaland called “Carry Out”. The sex metaphors in this song are strained, to say the least. And there’s nothing creative going on with this video at all-it’s the same T&A that’s in every other pop/R&B video lately. It might be OK to dance to in a club, but there’s no substance to the song beyond that. It’s paper-thin. I made the mistake of buying Timbo’s “Shock Value” when it came out. Man, if I could get those ten bucks back, I would. It’s horrid. Granted, I knew the guy had no personality (I’ve known that for almost 15 years now), but I figured the guest appearances would make the album interesting. Damn near EVERY artist who appeared on that album phoned their performance in. Might have actually been the album of 2009 that I was most disappointed by. Anyway, here’s the video. I didn’t catch any shots of the hot dog rolls in the back of Timbo’s head, but be warned that they might come up.
While we’re on Justins, Justin Bieber has very quickly become the “it” teen idol of the moment (bye bye Jonases). The 15-year old Canuck has created a hysteria of sorts-shutting malls down, causing little kids to trample one another. It’s all very cute. Will he be around in 5 years? Who knows. Regardless, don’t dismiss the kid out of hand. While I can’t give the kid any critical love (I will NOT be blasting this kid’s music in the crib), his music fits right in the pocket of what’s going on with the kids right now, and if I had a tween (which, given my age, I could theoretically), I’d rather them listen to JB than…Britney. Or The Black Eyed Peas. Ech.
His new video is called “Baby”, and it’s a fun little clip set in a bowling alley. When I first heard the song, honestly I thought “Donny Osmond”. It’s very G-rated and vanilla, which is fine (again) for his age group. Ludacris’ rap verse goes along with the song-I must say, as much as I’m giving Luda the side-eye for appearing on this track to begin with, this guy should get way more props than he does. From a thematic and flow standpoint, this guy is the best rapper in the South. Yes, better than T.I. (although if Tip makes more records like his last one, that race might end up a lot tighter) Yes, better than Lil Wayne. I also gotta wonder what Drake is doing in this video. Why is a dude in his twenties hanging out with a 15-year old. Am I gonna have to call Dateline NBC?
*I also gotta ask who the idiot was that put an ad for Robin Thicke’s “Sex Therapy” at the front of the video. Um, do we really want Bieber’s target audience purchasing something as…adult…as Robin Thicke?