Leading up to the release of The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2, you might have been anticipating just what Justin Timberlake had up his Tom Ford-designed sleeves when he decided that he needed not one, but two parts to his comeback album. And even after a couple of listens, you still might not have found your answers.
There really wasn’t a need or a point to 2 of 2. A lot of this album, including the title, is long and forgettable, and critics rallied with contempt.
“Experimental blockbuster” is a good way of putting it.
“Justin Timberlake's The 20/20 Experience was a rare thing in the pop world of 2013: an experimental blockbuster. Other artists roar like lions and bang like gorillas to get our attention.”—Rolling Stone
Maybe the problem was that Timberlake was a little too cocky going in.
“…The music is almost beside the point when you've got Timberlake's charisma, and you can bet that he'll be able to convince people not only that they love these songs, but that they have always loved them.”—Entertainment Weekly
Then there was the whole feminist “Take Back The Night” confusion.
“How in the hell did Timberlake think it was OK to give his slick disco-revival single the same name as an anti-rape institution that’s been around for decades? Did he just not know about the other Take Back The Night? Did he think nobody would mind?”—Stereogum
And when one of the primary selling points is that it made Pt. 1 look good, you know you’re in trouble.
“The sequel rarely beats the original.”—SPIN
Some were left with little more than desperate, rhetorical pleas. (Why, Justin? Why? WHY…)
“It didn't have to be this way. Justin Timberlake could have capped his comeback year with a final single from the year's top-selling album, The 20/20 Experience—perhaps the breezy ‘That Girl’—before heading out on an upcoming victory-lap arena tour. He could have left us with images of a dignified pop star, as seen in David Fincher's flawless "Suit & Tie" video, or the beguiling second half of the visual for "Mirrors", where he offers graceful steps inside of a mysterious, reflecting maze. He could have simply coveted the unlikely staying power of ‘Mirrors’, a smash that manages to deliver broad messages of fidelity, selflessness and co-dependence while being intimate, addictive and touching (and eight minutes long). He could have basked in his marathon hit parade at the VMAs; while it wasn't the show's most talked-about performance, it solidified the 32-year-old's position in the pop firmament—somewhere high above the blog-churning din, peering down on the foam hands, Beetlejuice suits and oversized stuffed animals with a wry chuckle. He could have left us wanting more. He didn't.”—Pitchfork
Let’s face it, you’re probably better off forgetting that 2 of 2 exists altogether. Sorry, J.T. You look damn good in a suit (and tie) though.
The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2 and The 20/20 Experience – The Complete Experience are available now, wherever music is sold.