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Timberlake, Pop Juggernaut, Is Gaining Some Unusual Fans
Alex di Suvero for The New York Times
Justin Timberlake performing at Roseland last September.
By MELENA RYZIK
Published: February 7, 2007
He won over the teeny-boppers long ago, but in his incarnation as a sexy-smooth crooner with a hip-hop edge, Justin Timberlake has gained some unusual fans: hipsters.
Youthful urbanites who normally wouldn?t admit to filling their iPods with anything remotely Top 40, let alone the music of a performer who can sell out Madison Square Garden, as Mr. Timberlake, 26, did for tonight?s show, are suddenly unashamed of their copies of “Justified,” his first solo album, or “FutureSex/LoveSounds,” his recent chart-topper produced by Timbaland. Members of the Flaming Lips, Coldplay and Keane have come to his shows, and his music is a staple of cooler-than-thou fashion week.
On Monday, at an after-party for the Marc Jacobs show at the club Eugene, the D.J. Duane Harriott played “SexyBack,” and the crowd of models, art directors, designers and other insider types hit the dance floor with abandon. “It?s a timeless song,” Mr. Harriott said, favorably comparing it to the Michael Jackson tune he spun next.
Pete Wentz, the bassist for Fall Out Boy, said at the party: “The cool thing about Justin Timberlake is that he?s one of those dudes who can dance, sing, do everything. I went to a Victoria?s Secret show, and he played there, and people loved it. You can go to hipster clubs, and they like it. I think at first they liked him ironically, but now they just like him.”
Unlike his former boy-band colleagues, Mr. Timberlake has even won over musicians who prefer lo-fi thrash to the slicker sounds of mainstream albums. Last month, in a Greenpoint club in the farthest reaches of hipster Brooklyn, Matt Johnson, 25, of the keyboard-and-drums act Matt and Kim, admitted his authentic Timberlake love.
In fact, he told the crowd, he had recently dreamed about playing a show with Mr. Timberlake, a one-time Mouseketeer. (The audience cheered this prospect.) And in December Pitchfork, the online music review bible, anointed Mr. Timberlake “the new King of Pop,” and named his song “My Love” the No. 1 of 2006 above indie stalwarts like TV on the Radio and Joanna Newsom, and an honor no Backstreet Boy could hope to achieve.
“I don?t think he?s as prefab and contrived as other artists,” said Tony Croasdale, 30, a punk promoter in Philadelphia and a singer, as Tony Pointless, for an anarchist hardcore band called R.A.M.B.O. “I like him because I don?t think he oversings.”
Mr. Croasdale, whose oeuvre runs to songs like “Wage Slave Mercenaries” and “If Our Leaders Are Impotent Only the People Can Rise,” picked up a copy of “Justified” when he was on tour in Asia, and he and his bandmates found it “fun to dance to.”
“Believe it or not,” he added, “Justin Timberlake has some major fans in the anarchist punk community.”