Who knew Justin Timberlake had it so rough? According to an awesome new feature in Details, the reigning king of pop music is feeling exploited, under-appreciated and, if a pre-show spread of antacids and Beano is any indication, gassy. Evidently, being the biggest pop star on the planet, getting linked to Hollywood's hottest starlets on a near-daily basis and earning praise from august institutions as well as from all the important online music mandarins isn't enough to make Justin Timberlake happy.
A lack of artistic respect seems to be the man's main buzz kill. Talking about his early pop success, Timberlake is quoted as saying, "Fuck. That's the last thing I wanted." You see, Timberlake doesn't want to be a pop star. "Everyone considers me a pop artist?" he asks. "Well, fuck it. I'm going to do whatever I want to do." This from someone whose every offering since leaving 'N Sync has been lapped up, not just by critics, but by an audience ranging from screaming girls to jaded hipsters. And what's wrong with pop music anyway? Is there even anybody out there who still truly believes pop is inherently inferior to other forms of music? The Beatles were pop musicians. So were Michael Jackson, the Rolling Stones and Bruce Springsteen. Being popular hasn't stopped Timberlake from collaborating with maestros like Timbaland and Pharrell. Hell, there hasn't been anyone else this decade who's done more to earn the "artist" part of the term "pop artist" than Timberlake has.
The Details piece also has a strange tangent about Timberlake's lingering resentment over his participation in this year's Grammy Awards telecast, where he performed onstage with a contest winner. "But I don't know if I'll be going through that sort of thing again," he says. "I feel like the Grammys used me for ratings." Whoa! What? How could the Grammys trick you like that, Justin? Next thing you know, your label might try to use you to sell records. And anyway, as far as lame media stunts go, the Grammy episode was a lot better for Timberlake than a certain Super Bowl snafu from a couple years back.
The thing is, more than anyone else, the sagging music biz wants Timberlake to do well -- superstars are good for the bottom line. If Timberlake's success is served up with a side helping of fromage, so be it. It's strange for someone who's been so media savvy up till now to bite the hand that feeds.
If the point of the Details profile was to paint a sympathetic portrait of Timberlake, it was a failure. But as a glance into the strange way that celebrities see the world, it pays off in spades. Timberlake needs to see the forest for the trees. It might help him kick the Beano.
-- David Marchese