Justin Timberlake is cool. How cool is he? So cool that he can rock an unforgiving white silk shirt in the muggy and sweltering Tel Aviv heat on Wednesday, sweat through it, and still look calm and collected.
So cool, that he can sing lyrics like, “I’m bringing sexy back/them other boys don’t know how to act… you see these shackles baby I’m your slave/I’ll let you whip me when I misbehave,” and not be relentlessly mocked for it.
Also note – he brought S&M references onto the pop music scene years before Rhianna made an album dedicated to it.
So cool that he can hold his own in a concert with 45,000 people while wearing clothes fit for a Michael Jackson impressionist on casual Friday and still look, well, pretty freakin’ cool.
The sleek and mesmerizing graphics flashing behind Timberlake during his 20/20 Experience tour – which featured a nine-piece band, four backup dancers and three backup singers – only reinforced how suave the 33-year-old singer- songwriter (and actor) is.
When Timberlake addressed the thousands of fans in Yarkon Park and asked, “Are we gonna party in Israel tonight?” The answer could only be an unequivocal and resounding “yes.”
Like many pop artists, Timberlake has made a career singing about the various stages of love. Falling into it (“Summer Love”), basking in it (“Mirrors”) and inevitably falling out of it (“Cry Me a River”).
And love was certainly in the air in Tel Aviv last night when Timberlake scanned the crowd and spotted a couple holding a sign saying “He promised to propose to me if I could get a selfie with you.”
Timberlake, always game for some impromptu fun (see his Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon appearances for evidence of that), smiled and hopped off the stage to join the young couple.
Flanked by several stern bodyguards, Timberlake leaned against the barricade separating himself from the couple and smiled as the most famous selfie of the night occurred.
“We’ve been together for eight years… will you marry me?” the boyfriend – on the verge of tears – asked as a grinning Timberlake and thousands of fans looked on. She, of course, said yes.
“They’re getting married!” Timberlake gleefully announced when he sauntered back on stage.
“You never know what will happen tonight. My first time in Tel Aviv and people getting engaged!” He said.
The joyful episode offered an apt segue into his hit “Summer Love,” in which Timberlake seemed to proclaim his undying affection for the entire audience.
Earnestly singing, “Tell me where you from, what you do, what you like/ Let me pick your brain, girl/ And tell me how they got that pretty little face/ On that pretty little frame, girl,” every girl there maybe fell a little bit in love with Mr. JT.
Later, the Internet was abuzz with rumors that the event was fabricated as a cheap attempt to get a selfie with the pop star or something Timberlake’s folks came up with to liven up the audience.
But does it really matter? In a pop extravaganza like this one, it’s all about appearances, getting caught in the moment, enjoying the cheesy lyrics and slick dance moves for the unadulterated fun that they are.
In the 2010 movie the The Social Network, Timberlake played Sean Parker, the founder of the music-pirating hub Napster.
In that film, Timberlake oozed smarmy self-confidence.
While on stage, that same self-confidence is evident when he croons hits like “Senorita” and “Like a Love You.”
But – proving his skill as an actor as well – that off-putting smarm factor is gone and all that’s left is a talented young guy who knows what he’s doing.
However, it was not a flawless night.
Timberlake made the odd choice of opening with “Pusher Love Girl,” a mediocre song off his latest album.
Out of all the chart-topping hits he performed Wednesday night, it almost seemed as if he was forcing his fans to embrace this latest offering.
In the words of Regina George from Mean Girls: someone should have told Timberlake, “Stop trying to make Pusher Love Girl happen.”
But that was just one miss in a night with very few.
Who can complain when you have a pop star at the height of his popularity totally immersing himself in a twohour performance where he sang, danced, played the guitar and piano to the best of his ability? Not I. And certainly nobody else in Yarkon Park.