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Top 3 Justin Timberlake Songs from Past to Present

Last night’s BET Awards showcased the many flavors of black music and how it has evolved over the years. From today’s hip hop, to classic soul R&B, and even dancehall reggae performances it was racial progress at its finest but it was Justin Timberlake’s addition to the Charlie Wilson tribute that truly showed just how music has broken the traditional color barriers. Here are three of my favorite Justin Timberlake songs that not only speak about relationships but also Justin’s own evolution as a young soul singer.

“Cry Me A River” was Justin Timberlake’s solo effort (first released in 2002) from his Justified album. Fans fell in love with the way his tenor 1 transitioned smoothly into soprano octaves during the last measures of the song (his refrain Cry Me, Cry Me). This chord range was a gutsy move considering gangster rap and Eminem were also dominating the top of popular music charts at this time. This break out artist’s timeless revenge ballad changed the way we traditionally think of men in toxic relationships. It went from being a searing diss to his rumored ex Britney Spears, to a stand out proclamation of the nice guy gone rogue persona Justin was labeled under.

“What Goes Around” (released in 2006) was another beautiful but rumored diss to his ex’s relationship troubles. The video featuring screen siren Scarlett Johannson, was his response to the constant queries he received from reporters and countless interviewers on how he felt about Britney’s troubles. The song stands alone without the back story and speaks to the truth of his heart in this simple musical lesson of karma.

“Suit and Tie” (released in 2013) seems to be about his current marital bliss with wife Jessica Biel. This love song features hypnotic beats, a lilting melody and his carefree expression of his love and how he just wants to get home to her. His unstoppable return collaboration with Timbaland and other artists proves Justin’s freshman and sophomore albums were anything but a passing fad or fluke, they continue to be true musical successes.

Without his soul roots and appreciation for black music, Justin would be a completely different artist entirely. Soul music has always been a way for men to speak not only to their audiences about their feelings, but also a way to celebrate just how far we’ve come as a nation of listeners.

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