The mystery of Justin Timberlake's sudden return to music — with an album and a concert tour this summer — may have been solved.
Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that Timberlake was pressured to return to music by Live Nation, which gave him around $20 million in 2009. Timberlake supposedly received $5 million as a "gimme" plus $15 million payment for a future tour.
A high-ranking source tells THR: "There is a due date by which you have to start touring — at some point, [Live Nation] has to call in the loan."
According to THR, Timberlake could have returned the $5 million if he didn't tour.
The partnership with Timberlake came on the heels of a successful $150 million, ten-year deal with Jay-Z in 2008 for live shows, tours, and future recordings.
Jay-Z, of course, will be appearing with Timberlake this summer in his "Legends of the Summer Tour."
It was a surprise when the major pop star announced his return to music, and furthermore when he dropped an album, "The 20/20 Experience," only three months later.
For one thing, Timberlake's been a busy man focusing on an acting career.
He put out three movies in 2011 ("Bad Teacher," "Friends with Benefits," and "In Time") and had "Trouble with the Curve" with Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams out last year.
Before his return, Timberlake also gave a lot of conflicting quotes regarding his absence from the music world.
March 2011 he told Entertainment Weekly he thought he may return to music:
”But to make an album, you have to find a group of songs that speak to something that might not be on the radio currently and make sense for you personally. It’s right around the corner, I think.”
Then in May, he told Playboy music wasn't his focus at all, and that it may never be time for another album. However, he said he's always writing and thinking of ideas for songs:
“I don’t have a single song ready to go," said Timberlake. “People keep asking me when a new song or album is coming out, and I don’t know what to say. Music is not my focus right now. It may be someday. It could happen next month or next year but right now it’s not where it’s at for me."
But, then in June 2011 he told Vanity Fair to not bet on another album, but hinted a tour may not be out of the question:
"I wouldn't say I'm not going to put out another [album]. I would say that would be a bad bet, if you were betting," said Timberlake. " But I could see myself only doing one more big tour."
It seems like Timberlake knew all along he would come back to music eventually and Live Nation was just cashing in on its $20 million deposit.
"The 20/20 Experience" went on to sell 968,000 copies in its premiere week according to Nielsen Soundscan, and, though it didn't disappoint, the album didn't stand out among the critics either.
Some reviews of JT's album:
" He’s not any more talented than your average, well-coached teen-pop star. You’d be hard-pressed to find a pop album that takes itself more seriously than “The 20/20 Experience.” Most tracks are overextended to last seven or eight minutes."
EW also found the songs offering too much:
" The songs are a little too slow, too long, too lacking in the flashy tap-dance energy that made him a giant solo success when he was 23. Maybe he wants to be the young Frank Sinatra. But for now, he’ll have to settle for being a slightly older JT."
The Rolling Stone noted the lack of catchy beats of previous Timberlake songs:
"The 20/20 Experience may test the patience of fans expecting immediate gratification. There are no songs as instantly infectious as "Like I Love You" or "SexyBack," nothing that cuts as deep as "Cry Me a River" or "My Love." But eventually the music sinks its teeth in, even on the wooziest songs."
The L.A. Times was more generous with its review:
"'The 20/20 Experience' feels like an attempt to reclaim Timberlake’s space in a deeply altered landscape; it makes a play for timelessness at a moment of unabashed ephemerality."
Was the album rushed? Perhaps.
And that may be why we'll be hearing another one out later this year. That, and, because of Live Nation.
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