Justified and ancient

I first got into Justin Timberlake when I got into Nsync back in 2001, and that was sparked by seeing the Nsync IMAX concert film “Bigger Than Live”. So when I heard that Mr JT was coming to Aotearoa,… um… I was kind of indifferent to it all. I couldn’t be bothered to go and see him live.

But then on Thursday, on the eve of his first show, I was at the pub with my old NZmusic.com-ettes, Joanna, Martina and Heather, and they were like, “Why aren’t you going!?” Good seats were still available, so I bought a ticket ($140?!) and got my arse along to Vector Arena for the last of his three Auckland shows.

As I entered the arena, Nine Inch Nails’ family fun-time singalong tune “Closer” was playing. “I wanna fuck you like an animal,” Trent Reznor snarled. This is not the result of someone’s iPod being put on random. Justin wanted us to hear it.

I was pleased to discover that I had an aisle seat, one row from the front and about two-thirds of the way down from the stage. Next to me were two girls working their way through eight cups of bourbon and Coke.

So, there was a whole lot of smoke and lights and the band started playing familiar fragments, and the audience screamed and cheered, and finally the bits and pieces suddenly exploded into “FutureSex / LoveSound”. A shadowy figure on stage was revealed to be Justin and it was really awesome. “You know what you want, and that makes you just like me,” he sang, and it was true.

Over in L91, I was dancing my arse off, and back on stage Justin was running through the best bits off his two albums. “Like I Love You”, “What Goes Around”, “My Love”.

Justin then had a quiet word with the audience. He loves Noo Zealand. Scream. It’s better than Australia. Scream. Noo Zealanders are so crazy, he wants some of what we’re smoking. Scream. In fact, he loves Noo Zealand so much, he might even move here. Screeeeam.

Which leads us to the Kaipara Bait ‘n’ Switch. I heard that on Friday Justin went ballooning over Helensville. It was a nice sunny day that day. A few years ago, Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers also visited the Kaipara area on a nice sunny day and was so impressed he bought a house there. But he soon discovered that nice sunny days are an anomaly and it’s usually a nice rainy day there. So, Justin, be warned.

Two girls in the row in front me told me there was a spare seat next to them, so I moved down into the front row. Nice one. But I discovered that the bourbon and Coke girls had spilt some on the floor, getting my hoodie all wet. Ugh. But it’s OK cos Justin was there.

I can only conclude that Justin Timberlake is a huge nerd. I mean, you don’t get to be a good singer, dancer, co-songwriter and entertainer without spending hours and hours and years and years practising. It’s kind of the Madonna template (she is a huge nerd too) – you just work your arse off at the art of being a pop star. And this also involves being too busy working to flash your cooter all over town.

There was a no-camera rule, but everyone these days has cameraphones, so the audience was dotted with the glowing screens of people holding up their cellphones, taking photos and jittery 30-second movie clips to stick on YouTube.

The question is, does Justin have enough songs to fill out a two-hour show? Well, not quite. There were a few dull patches. I could have done without “Sexy Ladies”. But the worst bit was the horrible ballad “Losing My Way”, which is about a guy called Bob (who has a job) and smokes the P. A mini gospel choir showed up for that one.

But the best was saved for last, with the bombastic “SexyBack” finale. It was all smoke and lights and it was like a funky sexy alien mothership was landing (hey…). I’m not sure, but I think it’s possible that Justin literally brought sexy back.

After that he came back on stage and just walked around, while the audience screamed at him. You’d have to be really well adjusted to be able to elicit that sort of reaction and be able to both accept it and not let it mess with your ego. Bags not.

He sat down at a piano and did one more song (during which heaps of lame-arses went home), before taking a final bow and disappearing into the stage. The audience was seen out with The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony”. (Another mid-’90s tune. Hmm…)

As I left, reeking of someone else’s bourbon and Coke, I had strangely mixed emotions about my first stadium extravaganza. I’d just seen Justin Timberlake live and it was a great experience, but I think I’ve had better times at the King’s Arms.

The past, present and future

At the moment I am officially celebrating two things in the world of pop:

1. The 10th anniversary of the release of the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe”
Me and my beatnik friends weren’t sure what to make of this when it came out. I mean, they were, like, a “manufactured” pop group, and therefore evil (but no one was really sure why), but this song was insanely catchy and we all secretly liked it but no one was really sure why.

Then the Girls went on to release 12 singles, five of which were absolute scorchers. I mean, if “Who do you think you are” is not the shit, then surely “2 become 1” is.

They spawned a slew of imitators, but no one really managed to follow in their footsteps. They can also be blamed for the “Idol” phenomena. Oh, and it turns out that while they originally came together via an audition, they ended up being as shrewd and controlling as any good follower of Madonna should. Zig-a-zig ah.

2. The release of the first single of Justin Timberlake’s second solo album
I was alerted to the release of SexyBack by a noticed on MySpace (Justin is my MySpace friend!!!). I listened to it and immediately noted that it was in a similar vein to “Like I love you”, but it has swear words in it (He says the MF word!!!).

The name has a double meaning – as well as a straight translation as “nice arse”, Justin’s also on a mission to bring sexy back, because goodness know there’s been a lack of mansex from the pop charts. (Actually, there has, so maybe he’s on to something).

The new Justin album is called “FutureSex/LoveSounds”, leading PopJustice.com to worry if perhaps Justin’s spacebar had broken. One is very excited about this.

Grindcore

I saw “Roger Dodger”. Here’s what other people thought of it as they left the theatre:

The guy walking in front of me: “Like Tarantino used to do.”
The woman walking behind me: “Horrible. Really, really bad.”

It was neither. It was about a fellow whose nephew shows up and asks him to help him be a hit with the ladies. But while it was about the art (or science) of seduction, it’s also about ree-lay-shon-ships. This lady sitting a few seats down from me laughed a lot at stuff that wasn’t remotely funny. Like, there’d be a cut to a new scene and she’d laugh.

Tomorrow night I will have houseguests:

man, its going to be farken choice. you are farkrn choice for putting us up for the night. perhaps you are innocent and naive and have never hosted dodgy rock n roll musicians in your innocent unspotlt flat before? yes, that’ll be it. if thats the case, apologies in advance. but hey, you might get a nice article for your zine out of it.

Oh my!

st00 came over and we watched the Brit Awards. J. Timberlake sang a medley of songs then Kylie came out and they performed “Rapture” and Justin grabbed her arse and it was magnificent. st00 accused me of liking Robbie Williams, and I was going to get all defensive and be like “I DO NOT LIKE HIM!!!!”, but then I realised that actually if I was in his rockstar manor with cocaine and champagne all that shit, I wouldn’t be complaining. Well, something like that, anyway.

Baybee.

I bought “Justified” from The Warehouse in Hamilton. I would have supported one of the incredibly cool independently owned record stores such as Big Tones, or maybe Tracs, but The Warehouse was cheapest – $29.95 vs $34.95.

I took the case up to the music counter to get the disc. There were two girls working at that counter. One of them was like, “OMG! We should listen to this one next! I woke up with that song in my head!” and the other one was trying to be all cool and was like, “Justin Timberlake tries to be like Michael Jackson”. So I was like, “Yeah, but he does it better than Michael Jackson does these days.”

I paid for the CD and lingered in the nearby women’s clothing section while the girls played “Like I love you”. All around me people were subtly moving to the beat. A Warehouse employee was sorting out underwear and putting it on a rack. I heard her singing along.

It was joy.

This is suburban re-invented

(I promise I’ll shut up about Justin Timberlake soon, ok?)

This is what happens when you get three women together who are or have recently been pregnant: they talk about pregnancy stuff (motherhood really does mean mental freeze). Then they get drunk (except for the pregnant one) and they talk about regular stuff and for a while things are like they were when we were 18.

“You’ll be next, Robyn!” they say. Jesus. I hope not.

So we were going around bars trying to find one that had a decent amount of people (no one sticks around in Hamilton at this time of year). There was one bar that usually is a really good live music venue, but instead had an old drunk bogan lady sitting by the bar. We played a game of pool while Incubus and Blindspott were playing on the bar’s stereo. Still searching for a crowd, we went to one bar and there seemed to be a pretty good vibe there. There was an ok covers band and the crowd looked cool. I was at the bar about to buy a beer when the others decided that the bar was “too young” and that we should move on to another bar. Oh my God.

So we went to The Bank and the DJ was playing the greatest hits of the ’80s and ’90s. Occasionally there’d be a song from the last couple of years (but it wasn’t often). But by then I’d had enough beers that I actually got excited when “Groove is in the heart” was played.

But there was a bright spot in the middle of it all: the DJ played “Like I love you”. “Oh my God,” I squealed. “I love Justin Timberlake! I want him to marry me!” At that moment a drunk dude decided that my friend and I needed his company, but then my friend finished her beer and went off to the bar, leaving me maniacally dancing to Mr Timberlake with this lame drunk guy. It was spectacular.

I finally relented and bought “Justified” today. The idea being that eventually I’ll get it out of my system. But I dunno. It’s been over a year since I first got into Nsync and that’s showing no sign of fading. And how can you not love an album with a song called “(And she said) Take me now”?

I saw “Sweet Home Alabama”. I like how the heroine rejects the big phat diamond ring in favour of the dirty, muddy swamp.