Justified and Potent

Justin Timberlake, Good Charlotte

at Staples Center, September 17

There’s something fascinating about being in Staples Center with 50,000 girls dressed to impress and screaming their heads off for Justin Timberlake — particularly if you’re a single guy. Wow. Forget hitting Pilates classes. A J.T. concert, with its ridiculously unbalanced girl-to-guy ratio, might be every man’s wet dream. And he puts on a damn good show, too.

Openers Good Charlotte are probably used to a more testosterone-infused crowd, but held their own despite the odds. Their catchy anthem “Keep Your Hands Off My Girl” was an infectious highlight, and their vest-and-tie uniforms made them doppelgangers for J.T. and his dancers, to boot. Coincidence, or envy?

Then arrived Justin, and the heavens broke forth with ear-piercing screams. A few years ago, those of us with rock proclivities could cop to a J.T. fetish as an ironic guilty pleasure, but no more. No matter what your take on music, the guy can sing, dance, play instruments and work a crowd so well you’ll feel enthralled, exhausted and perhaps existentially inferior just watching. He’s like the new Michael Jackson — well, circa ’84. And speaking of former pop icons, J.T.’s blistering performance of “Cry Me a River” was so good it seemed like a tragic eulogy to Justin’s ex-girlfriend Britney Spears’ career.

The pop extravaganza, designed with the stage in the middle of Staples Center in-the-round, was carefully choreographed to present the idea that the band, dancers — and even audience — were all on equal footing with Justin. Case in point? As he gyrated his way on over to our section, it was embarrassingly hard to keep thoughts of “I hope he sees me” in check. Perhaps this is one of the biggest keys to Timberlake’s success: He manages to be flawless while conveying a sense of accessibility and humility.

Toward the end, as megaproducer Timbaland lit up the stage with J.T. on several tracks (including a ridiculously off-the-hook version of “Sexy Back”), it seemed painfully clear there would be no missteps in this performance. Damn it, Justin Timberlake does everything right. It’s almost sickening.

—Tatiana Simonian

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