2013 was projected to be a big year for popular music, with the likes of Kanye West, Selena Gomez, Jay Z, Miley Cyrus, Lorde and Daft Punk all dropping albums—but everything changed when Justin Timberlake boogied his way back into the spotlight with The 20/20 Experience. It’s his latest work in six years and the first album of the year to have sold 2 million copies, hitting double-platinum status. Hot on his heels is Canadian born rapper-singer, Drake, who just blasted onto the charts with his third studio album Nothing Was The Same (NWTS). Drake earned the second biggest debut sales week of 2013, behind Timberlake, and NWTS’s appearance on the charts marks the best week of rap music sales since the artist’s sophomore album, Take Care, in 2011.
Both Grammy winning artists recently made an incredible showing at music’s most talked-about night of the year, the MTV Music Video Awards. On August 25, Justin Timberlake nearly shattered TV screens across the country with an explosive compilation act that exhibited his long tenure of hits, a surprise 2-minute N’Sync reunion, and of course, a flawless dance routine. Drake’s same-night “Hold On, We’re Going Home/Started From the Bottom” medley, despite literally featuring explosives, was just under the seasoned star-power performance Justin commanded, but it did display the artists’ breadth, showing off his pipes while playing piano and eventually jumping into the crowd rapping and hyping the arena up. Timberlake and Drake’s ubiquity seems undeniable, and now, the two will be even closer to fans than ever, heading on the road for two of the biggest tours in music world: Drake’s Would You Like a Tour? and Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience World Tour.
After taking a musical hiatus to pursue acting, Justin Timberlake came back bigger than ever, releasing a teaser video earlier this year for 20/20 in which Timberlake says he was “ready” to go back into the studio, not wanting to put out anything he didn’t love, because music “means more to [him] than anyone else in the world.” A countdown for the album followed shortly after on his website. The artist split his long awaited record The 20/20 Experience, released March 13, into two albums (the latter, aptly named, The 20/20 Experience- 2 of 2) both released in 2013, and both hitting No.1 on the Billboard 200 chart. While the second installment of 20/20, released September 27, sold 350K in its first week, his earlier 2013 album achieved the largest amount of sales in its debut week of the entire year, with 968K copies. The only artist that has accomplished the same feat this year is country super star Luke Bryan, who released compilation Spring Break…Here to Party, and full length studio album Crash My Party, 23 weeks later. Timberlake is also the only artist to have sold more than 300,000 records through multiple weeks, making him 2013’s best selling musical artist.
Dropping two No.1 albums in the same year (just 28 weeks apart) is an accomplishment in itself, but the singer has also decided to embark on a prodigious world tour, starting at the end of October. Timberlake is fresh off his Legends of the Summer collaboration tour, a 12-stadium North American endeavor with Jay-Z, in support of the rapper’s 12th studio album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, and gave fans a taste of Timberlake’s newest cuts. Timberlake will embark on the North American leg of his tour, popping in and out of the biggest cities in the US and Canada, such as Chicago, Toronto, Boston, Miami, Los Angeles, Edmonton and Montreal. Justin Timberlake tickets for the North American leg are averaging at $295, with the most expensive nights at Madison Square Garden in NY ($494), the Honda Center in Anaheim ($580), and a whopping $726 in Dallas at the American Airlines Center. The cheapest get-in price can be found at Rexall Place in Edmonton ($46), Belle Centre in Montreal ($52), and the Fargodome in North Dakota ($29). He will begin his European leg at the close of March, flying to the UK, then trekking across Scotland, Germany, France and more, ending in Finland mid-May.
Consistent with Timberlake’s previous albums, FutureSex/LoveSounds, and debut solo album, Justified, his latest blends pop, jazz, dance, rock and hip hop, but now the ultra talented musician is bringing a vitally vintage vibe to his tracks- the album even features faux-record scratches. Timberlake has ruled the waves from 2003’s “Rock Your Body” to 2006’s “SexyBack” and 2007’s “Summer Love” and is dishing out more hit singles with these two albums. 20/20’s “Mirrors” is lucidly inspired by the love felt for his wife Jessica Biel and his grandparents, and is a sincere, catchy tune, with arena-sized melodies. The song has granted him a tying record with Bruno Mars for most male artist top hits, at six. Timberlake’s biggest 2013 comeback single thus far has been “Suit & Tie” featuring Jay Z. The record is heavily influenced by Motown artists both in sound and delivery; from the full jazz band ensemble, quaffed hair and sleek suit, to love-crooning, soulful singing, while simultaneously remaining true to contemporary music with hip hop edginess and synthetic dance strings. The same can be said for the rest of the album, with songs “Pusher Love Girl”, “Strawberry Bubblegum” and “That Girl” evoking the same ambiance. Prolific producer and friend to Justin, Timbaland, claims the duo recorded 20 songs in 20 days for the first installment, and another 10 songs in 10 days for the second. He believes the lead single ‘Take Back the Night” a dance-party song hearkening Michael Jaskson’s “BIllie Jean,” “will be the biggest record of the decade”. Timbaland is also responsible for producing “Cabaret” one of the most anticipated tracks off of 20/20 2 of 2, because it features coveted collaborator Drake.
Multi-talented Toronto native, Aubrey “Drake” Graham, proves some things do, in fact, “stay the same,” as his third full-length studio album Nothing Was the Same is the artist’s third consecutive No.1 record. NWTS, released by Young Money Entertainment on September 24, sold 658,000 units in its first week, making him runner up to Timberlake for most albums sold. Drake also blows Kanye West’s Yeezus (459K) Jay-Z’s Magna Carta (528K) out of the water, which is saying something—considering tracks from NWTS were leaked on the Internet a week before its release date. The Young Money artist’s first album Thank Me Later opened with 447K copies sold, and his sophomore Take Care garnered 631K, both hitting the top of the charts as well. The 26-year old has cemented his place as hip-hop’s biggest new star in the past five years, debuting in 2009 with a successful mix tape entitled So Far Gone, and has since become the “poet laureate of a new generation of adults.” After all, for the last 212 of 222 weeks, at least one song by or featuring the Canadian import has been in the Billboard Top 10 Hip-Hop charts.
As the voice of his generation, Drake takes a personal, often sensitive approach to his music, and has been known for his confessional and emotionally introspective lyrics that delve into family, friends and love. In fact, the cover art for the album depicts his reflective nature as he poignantly related to MTV, “it’s a child version of myself staring at myself right now. I try and think back on this journey…it’s my most clear concise thoughts from now and my best recollection of then.” The hip-hop star often gets flack for his approach, but seems indifferent to this form of criticism: “Im just being me, and part of being me is being in touch with emotion…If I didn’t write about my emotions, I don’t know what else I would write about.” Drake not only crossed over from acting to music, as a Degrassi: The Next Generation TeenNick alum, but also crosses over in his music, collaborating with The xx, Big Sean, and sampling Whitney Houston in NWTS, whilst staying genuine to rap in “The Language” and “Pound Cake” featuring Jay Z.
The first single off the album, “Started from the Bottom” is essentially a stand-in bio for the artist. The smash hit’s lyrics and subsequent music video address Drake’s early life, depicting him working in a drug store and struggling to land on the music scene, more specifically, the Canadian rap scene (if there even is one). The video finally closes as Drizzy enjoys success with his crew, partying in the Dominican Republic, enliving the phrase “YOLO” in true form. Comparable to Timberlake, Drake has a tendency to present vintage influence and a homage to Motown vibe, something fans noticed with song “Marvin’s Room,” a single recorded in the studio Marvin Gaye created in 1975 to create music, and the same LA studio Drake would use to record NWTS. A figure single off the album, is ode “Hold On We’re Going Home”, which transcends pop more than any other song the artist has put out. The song displays that Drake’s ability to both sing and rap can sometimes be mutually exclusive, as he spits no rhymes on the track, and sounds much like up and coming artist Miguel’s lovelorn crooning than anything we’ve heard from him before. The softness felt in this single exhibits a kind of vulnerability, something unique and inimitable from callous rappers or cookie-cutter pop stars, and explains his widespread appreciation.
Like Timberlake, Drake also recently wrapped up a project, hosting his fourth annual OVO Fest in Toronto, featuring Frank Ocean, The Weeknd, J.Cole, TLC and Kanye West. Drake announced his tour on his blog October’s Very Own, with a Rocky-esque video montage, featuring the artist “training” in studio, on stage, and in the gym—ultimately asking his fans: Would You Like A Tour? Although Timberlake is a much more seasoned performer and media mogul, Drake is showing his prevalence in popular music, as his tickets are surprisingly on par with the former N’Sync member. Drake tickets match up similarly to Timberlake’s: averaging $223 ($72 cheaper than Justin), with the highest average seats being $397 in Dallas, $383 in the singer’s hometown of Toronto, and the steepest seats at Staples Center in Los Angeles ($429). While Drake is a newer artist, it turns out he can not only hang, but surpass hip-hop heavyweights Kanye West and Jay-Z as far as ticket demand goes; he bests West, whose Yeezus Tour averages at $184, and matches up precisely with Jay-Z’s Magna Carta Tour which averages at $223.
The 20/20 Experience- 2 of 2 released a week after NWTS, has just bumped Drake out of the top spot. Timberlake’s 2 of 2 had 348,390 sold in it’s first week, knocking out Drake who was racking 146,251 copies in his second week; although that’s a -78% sales drop from NWTS’s first week, Drizzy is still on track to platinum status. Interestingly enough, the lowest prices for Drake tickets average at $77, that’s $45 less than the cheapest average 20/20 concert ($122); and whereas one of the hottest nights for Timberlake is at the Honda Center for $528 on average, the same venue boasts the cheapest get-in price for Drake, at a meager $10. Regardless of spread, these artists are clearly at the forefront of both live and studio music, appealing to vast audiences because they are able to transcend genre, all while maintaining an unhurried and undisputed sense of self. With these two tours and latest albums, one does not need to look at the numbers to know the evident: Timberlake holds a steadfast grip as music’s current king of pop, and Drake is certainly reigning over the hip-hop world, killing the game with Nothing Was the Same.
|The 20/20 Experience||Tour||Would You Like A Tour?|
|none||Opening Acts||Miguel, Future|
|10/31- Montreal, QC||Start Date||10/18- Pittsburgh, PA|
|2/10- Omaha, NE||End Date||12/16- Auburn Hills, MI|
|The 20/20 Experience, 1-2||Supporting Album||Nothing Was the Same|
|“Suit & Tie” “Mirrors”||Singles||“Started from the Bottom”|