Justin Timberlake is wonderfully talented. He can sing, dance, act (kind of), slays it on Saturday Night Live, and does it all while maintaining a handicap on the links that would probably make you throw up in your mouth. The problem with guys like Timberlake, though, is that the moxie and charisma that help to make them so successful in most endeavors is the hubris that undercuts 'em in others. *Insert joke about the new Myspace here*
GQ named JT its #Hashtag of the Year, or whatever, honoring the singer at a lavish dinner in New York City with guests like Questlove and Sir Patrick Stewart.
The irony, though, is that the accompanying magazine story centers around a conversation that Timberlake had while the wounds to his ego—lashed by critics for his box office flop, Runner, Runner and his second 2013 album The 20/20 Experience - 2 of 2—were still fresh. JT expounds on trade magazines and says that, sometimes, working in showbiz isn't all it's cracked up to be.
This is the part when you get your "Cry Me a River" jokes ready.
“This face,” he says, circling it with one finger. “This recognizable face that you work so hard to get—not because you want the recognition but because you know you're made to do it.” This face, he's saying, comes at a cost. “The movie didn't do well at the box office, so I should quit? Hold on a second. If I was somebody else, you wouldn't have said that. I have the number one album this week, and I shouldn't have released it? Come on, man. You sound like a d***head.... It just shocked me because, like, you're trade magazines. None of your opinions count. And by the way, none of you can do it.”
When we first sat down, Timberlake seemed vulnerable. Confused, even. Now he's just pissed. He starts talking about Memphis, the place that he says defines him: “It's a struggling city with a defeatist attitude. I'm from this town, and I grew up with a little bit of a chip on my shoulder, so sometimes I find it funny that I've been able to acquire the patience it takes to be kind to people in our business. Because sometimes I just want to f***ing kill everybody.
Cam'ron GIF? Cam'ron GIF!
Seriously, though, Timberlake goes on to clarify that he's probably just temporarily bothered by the negative reviews and letting it get to him. He continues by explaining that his role in the forthcoming Coen Bros. movie, Inside Llewyn Davis, has the possibility to counter all of the negativity surrounding him at the time of the interview. Then, he takes the time to dissect his career choices and admit that he's the antithesis of cool, which is why we had to wait seven years for that new album.
I've turned in my seat to look at him, and I can tell he's reflecting on the thirty-minute tirade that began our conversation. First he apologizes. “I'm sorry,” he says, “that we got off on a whole tangent.” But that's not enough. He also wants to explain the genesis of his rant. “Listen, I'm not cool,” he says. Now it's my turn to look confused. “Being cool,” he says, “is about keeping your blood pressure steady. So no. Don't be cool. Be passionate. Be dedicated. Be tenacious. Be uncompromising. Be pissed. Be happy. Be sad.” He pauses. It's important to take risks, he says. To do sketch comedy when you're supposed to be staying in your lane as a singer. To do movies when all people want is your next album. “I've made a career out of doing things that I should not be doing. I wasn't cool about it,” he says. “Because being cool would have meant I passed up on those opportunities. If you do that, it's because you're afraid. And what are you afraid of? You know?”
The guy just lit up the the Wells Fargo Center with yet another critically acclaimed performance and even jovially mocked Eagles fans while onstage. Hate Runner, Runner and The 20/20 Experience - 2 of 2 all you'd like, but pop on over to GQ and learn a little bit about the guy behind them. By all means, please don't stop cracking In Time jokes, but be conscious of the fact that the guy works his ass off and tries to deliver the best art he's capable of in every facet of his career. (Especially when that calls for him to put his genitals in a cardboard box.) [GQ]