Cry Me A River

Justin Timberlake

Justified (2002)

Teen pop is littered with the corpses of failed solo careers — how many other young singers have successfully emerged from boy-bands? Michael Jackson? Ricky Martin, sort of? Justin Timberlake was no sure thing, but “Justified” brought him into his own, and set the stage for a surprisingly successful decade. He’s only released two solo albums, but a slew of guest performances for everyone from Madonna to T.I. to the Black Eyed Peas has more than proven his skill. “Cry Me A River” is a fine Timbaland production, meshing Timberlake’s falsetto with a chunky mid-tempo beat and a backing instrumental that even includes nonsense mumbling as a musical element. Add in a video referencing Timberlake’s notorious breakup with Britney Spears, and you have a pop culture touchstone.

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