It recently occurred to me that I am a fan of Justin Timberlake. And not just because of his Lonely Island collaborations (which I have listened to more times than I am willing to admit.) I like his music. As in, songs will get stuck in my head and I will listen to them over and over and force Boyfriend to listen to, say, “Sexyback” if it pops on the radio.
It’s not like I am a huge music snob or anything. I mean, I happen to idolize one of the most mainstream musicians on the planet and I’ve already confessed my (sometimes reluctant) love of Lady Gaga.
However, I owe Justin Timberlake an apology because my sixteen-year-old self detested him, N*Sync, and all of his annoying fangirls. DETESTED.
I was never one of the popular kids (I swear that this post isn’t going to be “Repressed Middle-School Memories/Jenny Therapy Session.”) And since I was never readily accepted by my peers, I developed a taste for going against the crowd to justify my alienation. All the eighth grade girls said their favorite movie was Titanic? I was obsessed with Gone With the Wind. OBSESSED. I read the book, cut out pictures of Vivien Leigh from magazines to put on my wall, and analyzed the movie in my diary. (I was thirteen; cut me some slack).
All the kids in my class watched Road Rules? My favorite TV show was a British comedy that aired on PBS called Keeping Up Appearances. All the girls were obsessing over Leonardo DiCaprio and Keanu Reeves? My celebrity crushes were Jim Carrey and Kevin Spacey (I can’t explain that one at all).
But keep in mind, my hipster tastes had its boundaries, even as a teen. I was a huge fan of Backstreet Boys and my first album was Hanson, so that effectively loses any nerdy credibility I might have gained in the previous paragraph.
Even though Backstreet Boys were wildly popular when I was in high school, I felt like everyone around me liked N*Sync, and especially Justin Timberlake, more. This meant that I had to hate him. I just had to. I found him and his stupid curly peroxide blond hair and high-pitched voice and that god-awful song “This I Promise You” (which they also recorded in SPANISH which meant I had to suffer through both versions TWICE ON THE RADIO) incredibly annoying.
My disgust of Justin Timberlake carried on well into my late teens. I missed the whole Superbowl “Wardrobe Malfunction” in 2004 because I was so disgusted that he was the “special guest” that I turned away from the TV.
So, what happened? Saturday Night Live, for one, showed me that he actually has a sense of humor and is a talented comedic actor. Then there was the fact that I started playing “Cry Me a River” on repeat. And I kept begrudgingly enjoying his acting and singing endeavors until finally, as I watched his latest SNL episode with my cousins last weekend, I felt comfortable enough to admit to myself that I’m a fan.
YOU WIN, UNIVERSE.
To my sixteen-year-old self, I’m sorry. But not really. We don’t see eye-to-eye on a lot of things anymore, so you’ll just have to get over it.