Hate is a strong word, but at this point there might be some truth to this statement. Released in theaters today is “Friends with Benefits”, now the 11th film featuring Justin Timberlake. The same guy who over the past 5 years has been a “Saturday Night Live” favorite, an Emmy award winner and short-lived MTV Reality show producer. But does anybody remember when this guy used to be considered a SINGER!?
It’s been almost 5 years since Timberlake released his second solo album “FutureSexLoveSound”, and from the looks of things it doesn’t seem like he’s at all interested in creating a third album for his massive fan base in the music industry. Instead he seems to be focusing on lame films. “Friends with Benefits” for example is a lazy romantic comedy that is clearly a retread of two recent films (Natalie Portman and Ashton Kutcher’s “No Strings Attached” released earlier this year, as well as Anne Hathaway and Jake Gyllenhaal’s 2010 Dramedy “Love and Other Drugs”). If Timberlake and Mila Kunis’ film is any different than the other two, there’s really no indication of that in the trailers.So really what’s the point in making it!?
Which is the start of a slew of questions for the former N Sync’er, who exhibited such great taste in his music career but so far is making some horrible moves in the movies. His film decisions have almost been all bad. He lucked up attaching himself to Craig Brewer’s “Black Snake Moan” and David Fincher’s Oscar winner “The Social Network”, but he was clearly the worst performance in both of those movies. The rest of his film roles have been cliche, or just over done. And mostly all of them have been box office flops, especially the ones where he had a lead role or a big supporting part. Which is why it’s curious why after so many failed attempts, Hollywood keeps hiring him. And why he doesn’t realize this and return to the studio and make some music.
In the years since his last mega selling album he has barely even talked about working on new material. When Ellen Degeneres asked him point blank on her show he said something along the lines of he can’t do two things at once. So “Yogi Bear” and “Bad Teacher” are more important than pleasing the fans that made him famous apparently. And there are lots of fans in waiting, myself included. He had two pretty excellent Pop albums on his own and since than he’s barely sang a word. To his credit in 2008 he helped Madonna score another hit with “4 Minutes”, and in 2009 he helped Ciara hit the Top 10 with “Love Sex Magic”. Also in 2009, him and production team The Y’s were behind two album cuts for Leona Lewis and Rihanna, and the aforementioned Ciara single. Those sporadic appearances may tide over some fans, but it’s really not enough to show he’s still into music, and he’s done nothing musically since early 2010.
His last stint as a musician was on the Haiti Benefit special in 2010, his rendition of “Hallejulah” was the biggest selling performance of that event. And that event had big names like Shakira, Madonna, U2, Jay-Z, and Beyonce. His ability to score a hit from a one-off performance shows that his fans are still there waiting for him and ready to support him. So why can’t he take the hint? And if that’s not a good enough sign to return to music, he can also look at the industry and his peers to realize it’s of great importance to get back on the radio soon. Christina Aguilera took a 4 year break in between albums and it was one of the things that hurt her 2010 “Bionic” album. And the recent lukewarm success of former girlfriend Britney Spears and former duet partner Beyonce proves that his generation of superstars is fading next to the new crop of stars.
For a while, it seemed Timberlake’s lane in the industry was un-threatened, now he has some major competition to his throne of Pop King of the New Millennium. For one there’s a new Justin in town that goes by Bieber, although he is more of a star to the younger generation and Timberlake’s fan base is a little too old to (admit to) listen to Bieber. Still time goes quickly, and Bieber has some talent to back up his hype, so if he waits too long Bieber might have matured enough to get older fan bases.
Bruno Mars is really the toughest competition for Timberlake though, because it seems he can’t lose these days. Every one of his singles from “Doo Wops and Hooligans” has been a Top 5 success with pretty massive sales figures, and Bruno fulfills that “nice guy with swag” image Timberlake had. Bruno has also become an industry darling, scoring multiple Grammy nominations and being invited to perform nearly everywhere. And even other artists are rushing to Bruno to write and produce hits for them, so he’s well respected in the industry and liked by the masses.
It will be interesting to see if Timberlake stops reading scripts and starts writing new songs, but the clock is really ticking. This break is just giving other artists time to give him more competition and after a while he’ll just become a “failed movie star” and people won’t even remember he used to have a great music career.