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The Essential… Justin Timberlake

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The Essential... Justin Timberlake

In case you missed it, the ruler’s back

Sure, the details are vague, but all the signs point to Justin Timberlake readying the release of his first album since 2006′s FutureSex/LoveSounds. It’s a pretty refreshing wait, if we’re honest, compared to an artist like Rihanna who’s released seven album in seven years, but that attitude (in Timberlake’s own words: “I’m the one who sits and is obsessive about it before you get to hear it. I don’t want to put anything out that I feel like is something I don’t love. You don’t just get that everyday. You have to wait for it”) is only one of the reasons why the music world found itself so excited about Timberlake’s return yesterday.

Justin Timberlake wasn’t the only pop star who went from bubblegum to credible in the early ’00s – Britney, Christina and Nelly Furtado all underwent similar makeovers – but he is, by some distance, the one that made the most lasting music, usually under the guidance of close collaborators Timbaland, Danja and The Neptunes. His story’s also a surprisingly linear one, from hints of what was to come on *NSync’s ‘It’s Gonna Be Me’ and ‘Girlfriend’, through the game-changing ‘Like I Love You’ and Justified, to the still-influential FutureSex/LoveSounds. Here’s Timberlake’s story to date, as told by 10 of his singles.

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