I saw Al Sharpton last night. No joke--he was ambling along Madison Avenue in a gray-striped shirt and black slacks, shuffling between a Blackberry and a thin cell phone as he very leisurely passed 62nd street and ducked into a hotel. He was not in show mode. Shirt untucked, hair unkempt, half glossy-eyed, like he was very much ready to turn in for the night. I thought it unusual that I should be so excited, since it's my job to talk to famous people. But seeing the Reverend was different, because I grew up watching him bellow on the news. Being three feet away while he strode lazily was the intersection of my childhood and perverse adulthood.
As much as Al Sharpton galvanized me (and isn't it ironic that I just wrote about him for the first time, and then I saw him a few days later? I should write about Victor Wooten again), what I'm here to do is lionize Justin Timberlake. There were a few points I left out of my "Justin Timberlake is Really, Really Good" piece.
Omitted Point 1: He plays guitar and piano. Well. Not only that, but he plays with a swagger-particularly on keys-that belies his relative inexperience compared with his million-piece band.
Omitted Point 2: Speaking of his million-piece band, they really enjoy playing with him. Compare their genuineness with Jessica Simpson's band. One makes you want to groove, the other makes you stick two fingers down your throat and genuflect over the curb. I liken JT's group to a basketball team that really, truly enjoys playing with a superstar. Picture the 1998 Chicago Bulls--Michael Jordan's teammates felt liberated by his superstardom, not constricted or subsumed by it.
Omitted Point 3: Most pop stars would never, ever perform a song differently than how it's recorded. It's a fact--that's why lip-syching is so in; rappers and hip-hoppers alike follow an exactly choreographed playbook. Whether it's for fear of improvisation or simply easier is impossible to tell, but Justin is the one guy who pays no heed to either. He's constantly improvising, harmonizing with himself, rapturously inflecting, and even beat-boxing. He almost never plays a song the same way twice--even his mega-hits. Take, for example, his Grammy "My Love" performance: he imposes an otherwordly lilt over "Well baby I've been around the world." His talent is literally uncontainable. Telling him to stick to the script is like telling Vince Vaughn to speak slowly--he could do it, but why would you want him to?
If I think of anything else, I'll be sure to post it here posthaste. In the meantime, Daft Punk is playing at my house. Enjoy the Green Apple Festival.
Stay Scintillating, Justin
MC My Love