Justin Timberlake performed "Mirrors" from his upcoming 20/20 Experience album at last night's BRIT Awards in London. When that track was released after the Grammy Awards, it seemed like an energizing, skittery return to FutureSex/LoveSounds Justin. In the live context, it was just as dull as his R. Kelly-lite Grammys rendition of "Suit & Tie" and "Pusher Love Girl."
It's not that these songs are bad or that Timberlake shouldn't be performing them, it's just that there is a distinct lack of energy in his recent appearances. There is something to be said for the audacity of midtempo, for the boldness in releasing a series of laid-back tracks instead of giving the kids the EDM bangers that they want, especially after his "SexyBack" helped reacquaint pop with the four-on-the-floor house beat pattern almost seven years ago. But like much of Timberlake's public behavior, it seems like cockiness is steering, that his musical reemergence is the main attraction and the point, that the music and the way he's packaging it are afterthoughts. Should we be honored by his lateness?
The bombastic live instrumental arrangement didn't help matters, as it forced Timberlake to strain his vocals, a jarring contrast between the cool image he's attempting this time around.