Details Called It: Justin Timberlake Edition

Maura | October 5, 2006 - 12:03 pm

dets.jpgIt goes against our grain to be nice to Details, but as we were listening to Justin Timberlake’s “My Love,” giddily trying to figure out whether that atonal hooting voice in the chorus is best described as a “giggling clown” or a “lemur achieving orgasm,” we remembered a profile of him from a while back that may be the one music piece the magazine ever got right. And boy, has it aged well. After the jump, a passage from Zev Borow’s piece in the December 2002 issue, right before the release of Justified (not the current issue, which has a cover shot of Timberlake that’s basically undistinguishable from your typical gay softcore pinup).

A few months later, I met him at a studio in Hollywood to hear his new album. By then, I’d decided I liked Justin, that he was a sincere, well-meaning person, and not responsible for any sort of cultural apocalypse. Blaming *N Sync or Britney for making the music they make is like blaming the Beatles for “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” or Madonna for “Like a Virgin.” As with presidents, we get the pop we deserve.

Moreover, Justin’s *N Sync past contributes to why people seem to be rooting for his solo success. It’s as if in order to make us feel better about the fact that the years 1997-2002 will go down in music history as the half-decade of lousy teen pop, someone from that time needs to go on and have some kind of relevant career…


Justified is poised to sell milions. He will hang out with more rappers and NBA stars, and word is he’s now dating Alyssa Milano. He seems to want to embrass us, to teach us things about himself, and about ourslves, and I, for one, believe that if we can manage to control our delight and our fear, there is every reason to think, or at least hope, that one day he will, that one day Justin Timberlake will offer us something, probably something thoughtful, straightforward, not surprising, but very pure, maybe in a video, before disappearing into the night sky forever.

Thing is, there are so many lamely counterintuive stories in the magazine world–stories where the writer sees his job as taking a person who is intuitively, plainly, on the face of it, an empty talentless jerk, and arguing (so very cleverly!) that this person is not in fact an empty talentless jerk–that when you read a story that’s counterintuitive in the right way, which is to say that it’s truly hacking away at an ossified conventional wisdom that’s sort of tired and wrong, allowing you to see interesting things you might have overlooked–when the story becomes, as Kafka once said, “the ax for the frozen sea within us”–well, it’s pretty great, is all.

American Idol by Zev Borow [Details via *NSYNC Fandemonium]
Timberlake’s Details cover [Hot Momma Drama]
Previously: Justin Timberlake’s ‘My Love’: You Have About Two Weeks, Tops, To Enjoy This Song