Justin Timberlake - "TKO"

Earlier this year, Justin Timberlake ended a six-year drought by releasing his new album The 20/20 Experience. It’s the year’s biggest-selling album to date, in any genre, and it’s also a very good album, full of elegant retro-soul flourishes and orchestral Timbaland production flourishes and tenderly heartfelt love-pleas. Timberlake’s got a second installment of The 20/20 Experience coming later this year, and first single “Take Back The Night” has been out there for a little while. This morning, he’s shared “TKO,” the follow-up. The seven minute track is a Timbaland production, full of the jittery production tricks that he brought to the game more than a decade ago, and it works as a midtempo club track that doesn’t have much of the old-school loverman slickness that Timberlake brought to the last album. On its own merits, though, the melody doesn’t quite stick the way you’d hope a Timberlake melody would. Maybe it’s a grower? Either way, you can listen to the track below.

The second volume of The 20/20 Experience is out 9/30 on RCA.

Comments (47)
  1. Part 1 was a dog that needed to be taken out back and put down to begin with, but this is like stumbling upon that same dog the next day in its misery still wimpering for mercy. Lyrically, the metaphors are stepping into Will.I.Am territory, and the overall production and beat just sounds tired and phoned in like most all Timbaland production does after he sold his sound out to whoever would jump in on a track of his during his Shock Value comps. Supposedly these two albums were mad dashed out to satisfy his recording contract, and it shows. I’m sure that’s a minority opinion, though.

    • Gotta disagree, Still think Part 1 is one this year’s best. This song and Take Back the Night are bit weak though, Take Back the Night more so than TKO. The boxing metaphors are grating and the whole thing feels very 2007ish. Luckily JT still can still sell it though.

    • So what you’re saying is…you don’t like it?

      When I heard he crapped these albums out to quickly satisfy a contract it spun my head. That’s some pretty great crap if ya ask me.

    • The people who buy pop music don’t mind if it sounds phoned in because they only listen to music on their phones anyway.

      • Thanks for the sweeping generalization. And what’s wrong with listening to music on your phone, anyway? Are you too indie for Spotify?

        • What’s wrong is that it sounds like crap. It skews your perception of everything you hear, and you only hear a fraction of what the artist intended. You may as well not even bother if you are going to treat music as a mere product to passively consume; it’s basically the opposite of listening.

      • Are you a troll? Or just pretending that in 2013 there aren’t people who like all kind of music (including experimental and indie music) and that do also appreciate the craft of pop songs? This whole condescending generalization is obnoxious.

        I like the new single, but I don’t love it. I thought Take Back The Night is much better. I’m still excited about the new album though, because Justin is a very talented pop artist and his albums are all great so far.

        • Viewing mainstream pop music and its consumers with disdain does not equate to being a troll if you are genuine about it–and I really could not be more sincere about it. Current mainstream pop rots your brain and eventually hinders a person’s ability to appreciate a lot of real artists that are worth your time.

          • So, sincere trolling then.

            I honestly listen to Can about as much as I listen to Justin. Again, you’re being condescending and out of touch with how people experience music today. This whole segmented genre mentality of “this music is good for you, this music is bad for you” doesn’t (or shouldn’t) exist anymore. Every genre has good and music. Democracy of taste and all that.

          • Trolling means trying to provoke a negative reaction with an insincere opinion. I really don’t care if you react, and I actually mean what I say. The word “trolling” has begun to lose all meaning because of people like yourself who use it as a catch-all pejorative term for any opinion that is unpopular and/or with which you disagree. I know exactly how most people “experience” music, and generally, it is not an experience but some thing that happened while someone was thinking of twenty other things and that can only be hazily recalled. This has a lot to do with the evolution of popular listening practices and the evolution of the mainstream music industry, which has, in truth, devolved. I am not talking about genres of music. There is good pop, but the majority of it is not in the mainstream. I would like it if there was not such a vast divide between the quality of mainstream and underground music, but there is. It has not always been this way. When I was 13, In Utero was a bestselling album; if that album were released today, that would never happen. Furthermore, there is a direct correlation between the sort of people who listen mostly to mainstream pop and who listen to music mostly on their phones. People who care more about listening properly are more conscious of what they are hearing and are also more conscious of the significant difference in quality (both in terms of sonics and artistry) between mainstream and underground music.

          • curt cobain was a self interested boring asshole and so are you…..there’s some trolling for everyone

          • i spelled kurt wrong….awesome hahahahahaha

          • I agree with you Michael Hanna.

            It used to be that music itself often dictated culture, politics, trends, etc, without a sole emphases on commercialism. The ‘ugly’ artists from the 60′s (think Dylan, the Dead, CSNY) wouldn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell of ‘making it’ today based on aesthetics alone.

            These days it’s bass-ackwards…the trends dictate the music. ‘Stars’ form overnight to capitalize on demographics, ‘scenes,’ and culture. (looking at you, hipsters). Authenticity, for what it’s worth, counts for almost nothing in 2013.

            Now we have these constructed pop stars with minimal talent getting teams of 15-20 people to write their lyrics, melodies, production, clothing, force into movies, etc.
            If you had a magic wand to replace say, Katy Perry, with another singer and throw all the same money and production behind her, I’m fairly confident saying that the end product would not drastically change. Modern pop (Perry, Gaga, Timberlake, Miley, Beiber, et all) are more ‘product’ than musician. You can’t take John out of the Beatles and still have the Beatles. You can’t take Jerry out of the Dead and still have the Dead.

            The worst part to me is that there’s no one with enough clout to say ‘Stop!’ (probably because the $$$ is rolling in). But younger listeners especially continue to idolize the Mileys and Beibers of the world because they simply don’t know any better. Most publications and media aren’t doing a whole lot to combat those notions, either.

            The best case scenario is to wait until all the shit just isn’t ‘cool’ anymore. Aren’t we sick of the ‘vapid pop-star’ yet?

  2. I loved Part One, and I dig Take Back the Night, but I’m pretty disappointed in this. Most notably the production, there’s really nothing going on there.

  3. Oh look, another Justin Timberlake song that is already too long at 5 minutes but then segues into an unnecessary vocal beatbox interlude followed by a dully repetitive coda that will be removed from the radio edit because nobody wants to listen to it.

  4. when did JT get so boring? Oh wait…he’s always been boring

  5. Haha a couple haters jumpin’ in here quick as they can eh?

    This isn’t anything incredible, but it’s not terrible either. Much better than 90% of the genre contemporaries, and still a whole helluva lot better than Blurred Lines which everyone was drooling over when that dropped (for some reason). I’ll wait until album context to start making too many judgements. He’s not gonna shove all the best tracks at us for free before the thing comes out, gimme a break. Take Back The Night was killer and Part 1 is easily one of the best albums of the year.

    I think indie kids still get confused with their first impressions of any JT song because they want him to be all deep and ultra indie or something. It’s Justin-friggin’-Timberlake, people. Take off your pretentious indie hats now and then and just enjoy it for what it is: some of the best mainstream pop in existence.

    • I honestly believe that had Blurred Lines not become such a big hit, no critics would’ve said anything about it. It’s weird, because it was like they obligated to like it as to not appear snobs. I rarely get that vibe when critics are poptimists, but the acclaim for Blurred Lines surging at the peak of popularity for the song did feel like that. It’s especially weird because all JT singles this year (even this one) kill that one.

    • Idk KIDCHAIR, I just can’t get into this song, I like the first part and loved “Suit & Tie” because even though the whole oldschool throwback wasn’t necessarily original, it was a breath of fresh air for JT artistically and this song just feels backwards in a cringeworthy way, it’s just forgettable and honestly Timbaland’s beat is just really stale and uninteresting. Sorry JT, its nothing personal! Hope the rest of the album makes up for this.

    • I think after an artist puts out something like futuresex (namely My Love) it’s somewhat disappointing to hear a relatively safe record, not to say that 2020 isnt a fine record. But, it has been a looooong time, especially in internet years.

  6. i actually really like this song…

  7. JT is the shit.

  8. Solid, not great. It lacks the spark of the three singles from Part One and Take Back The Night.

    He still has one of the best albums of the year though, and I think Part Two will only contribute to that. Also, this song probably gets better live.

    Justin is one of best music artists right now, pop or not. People need to get over their boy-band-past/top-40 grudge.

    • As a vehement S Club 7 apologist, I can assure you my stance against J.T. has nothing to do with a grudge against poptimism or thinking it’s beneath me, but rather that I can think of other pop acts out there right now who are making better / more interesting / more enjoyable / better produced singles catered toward the Top 40 crowd (Lorde and Fifth Harmony come to mind.) To this I say, “Get over your nostalgic boy band crushes from when you were 16, and stop allowing them to give this dude who isn’t even trying anymore more credit than he deserves.” Seriously, his track with Jay Z where he throws out the word “Holy Grail” nonsensically all over the place is one of the dumbest written songs I’ve heard all year.

      • Well said. I agree with all of this. Even the S Club 7 part. That “Never Had a Dream Come True” song was dope.

      • I don’t have a boy band nostalgia. if anything, I warmed up to N’Sync after JT went solo and released stuff like FutureSex/LoveSounds.

        I like Lorde, but I will never understand the hype behind Fifth Harmony. For em, all of these new girl british groups are kinda lame. Little Mix is sort of an exception, if only because I like a few singles from them, but even then they are nothing special.

        I also think it’s unfair to compare JT to that kind of pop. JT has obviously matured, so his sound won’t be as instant as those young girls out to make everything very catchy. I still think the polish and craft of JT’s album and music are much better than a lot of pop today.

        • “I also think it’s unfair to compare JT to that kind of pop. JT has obviously matured, so his sound won’t be as instant as those young girls out to make everything very catchy. I still think the polish and craft of JT’s album and music are much better than a lot of pop today.”

          EXACTLY. JT is mainstream pop, without a doubt, and should be taken as such. But it’s still on a completely different level than your average radio pop. I love Lorde myself. But even that isn’t the same thing to me at all. I’m no fan of Kanye, but to me JT is to mainstream pop what Kanye is to mainstream hip-hop. Even though I don’t like him, I fully recognize that Kanye opperates on an entirely different plane than your average mainstream rap idiot. JT is the same. Like him or hate him, but don’t sludge him in with the usual fodder that infests the radio. He’s so much better than that.

      • By the way, I think the Holy Grail thing is more Jay Z’s fault that JT’s. Jay isn’t exactly top of his game these days.

      • Honestly I agree to some level with you. I’m a pretty big fan of Futuresex/Lovesounds and thought the sound was fairly refreshing at the time. 20/20 seems like a step backwards to me. I find that the production work (fuck Jerome”J-Roc” Harmon, seriously that guy is a cancer to the music industry and I hope he has a miserable life) has been pretty complacent in leaning on recycled sounds and dynamics. I understand JT wanted to reach into older more ‘classic’ style pop music but when I listen to it there’s nothing that makes me believe this album wasn’t made 10 years ago.

        Timbaland seems to be phoning this bullshit in at this point and I’m probably gonna lose my shit if I hear one more song with his stupid mouth beat-boxing effect.

        To some degree I have to blame JT on relying on the same producers and refusing to try something new. He clearly has a lot of talent left to provide and I’m sure that every producer out there would love to work with him. With all the talent out there and all the interesting collaborations I could see him doing, he’s still producing these albums like the year is 2004 (and you can’t find a more interesting rapper to keep fucking with that Jay-Z? Really?)

      • “Seriously, his track with Jay Z where he throws out the word “Holy Grail” nonsensically all over the place is one of the dumbest written songs I’ve heard all year.”

        YES!!! I hate that song.

    • I’ve been confounded by the success of all this boy band music since the mid nineties when it resurged.

      Here’s my take on it. Apparently back then some brilliant businessmen (not artists) did their market research and decided to invest in a product that keys into the sensibilities of the “teen crush”. There was enough data on the phenomenon by that point to build something solid. They clogged the mainstream with this stuff and imprinted an entire generation during their impressionable years. Once the mark was made all that was left to do was to keep the formula relevant (i.e. infuse hip hop, country, and now dubstep) and the money will keep rolling in. These people became fabulously wealthy and stamped out the appreciation for musical creativity in the majority of young people.

      Most of this mainstream pop (including JT) is METHODICAL MANUFACTURED PRODUCT engineered to key in on what market research says is viable. Just like McDonalds food and prime time television. There is such a constant barrage of vapid pop culture thrown at people these days that its become second nature to them.

      • “Most of this mainstream pop (including JT) is METHODICAL MANUFACTURED PRODUCT engineered to key in on what market research says is viable.”

        Well, yeah. That’s obvious. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be enjoyable, albeit on a level that is GENERALLY, but definitely not always, more superficial than the enjoyment of most music.

        • I appreciate the response man. I should lighten up. But McDonalds is also generally enjoyable on a superficial level (flavor). But should you eat it?

          • I eat McDonals on occasion the same way I digest crappy pop on occasion. Because I damn well feel like it and I enjoy me a McRib now and then

  9. Good song. It’s no “Take back the night” but still enjoyable non the less. Can’t wait for 20/20 Exp part2

  10. So JT didn’t cover Le Tigre….sadness

  11. Part 2 of 2 is gonna be so dope! 9/30 can’t get here fast enough! This is definitely the year for JT and I can’t wait for the grammy’s

  12. Maybe a more intriguing discussion is how ‘independent’ music media’s shift towards the ‘pop/hip-hop-is now-cool-again’ thinking has impacted listeners who would have never listened to the shit in the first place.
    It’s fairly obvious now that most ‘indie’ listeners’ favorite music outlets (p4k, spin, SG, etc) simply latched onto more-mainstream pop and rap coverage because those in charge felt that indie was losing its appeal in attracting page hits.

    For awhile, it wasn’t cool to like pop.
    The first waves of pseudo-authentic modern hipster-ism killed it.
    Then people got so sick of hipsters and it became cool to like pop again, but only as a backlash to that original backlash.
    In a way it seems that the modern pop resurgence among ‘alternative’ media is actually being hipster-ish about hipster-ism.

    • You make a good point. One reason I enjoy it though is because the typical “indie” sound these days is boring as hell. I think that’s probably why coverage goes that way too, when one side gets tired, the other starts seeming more interesting, and it goes back and for back and forth. I can’t tell you how sick of the sad sap indie folk bull crap I am.

  13. I still laugh reading about JT on an ‘indie’ site. Perhaps my comment is tired and obvious, but I stand by it.

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