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Justin Timberlake: Tiny Desk Concert

Walking into the room shortly before Justin Timberlake took our cramped stage, I overheard someone on his team wondering aloud if this was to be the most densely populated Tiny Desk concert in history — which is to say, the most musicians we've ever fit in a single frame. It's not, but we don't often find a way to cram in this many human beings (15 in all) and this much gear.

Timberlake has never been one to give partial effort, but this is a production befitting the occasion: namely, a set timed to drop concurrently with the release of his new album, Everything I Thought It Was. Eschewing the rootsier feel of its predecessor, 2018's Man of the Woods, the new record is a throwback, an epic and a blowout — and so's this lavish set, which scales the Timberlake experience down to 25 minutes of maximalist celebration and, when the moment calls for it, chiller vibes.

Backed by his band The Tennessee Kids, Timberlake's Tiny Desk debut leans heavily on his early solo catalog, as he kicks it off with two songs from 2002's classic Justified and weaves in three more from 2006's magnificent FutureSex/LoveSounds — including a set-closing "SexyBack," which finds the singer trotting out a megaphone in a truly meme-worthy moment.

By the way, in case you're wondering, the all-time record for musicians behind the Tiny Desk is a whopping 23, a feat pulled off by the fantastic Mucca Pazza in 2015. But Timberlake and company rival that classic performance's energy — in both cases, the real triumph lies not in the Tetris of it all, but in the way that many people still find ways to move, buoyantly and as one mighty organism.

SET LIST

  • "Señorita"
  • "Rock Your Body"
  • "Pusher Love Girl"
  • "Until The End Of Time"
  • "Selfish"
  • "What Goes Around"
  • "SexyBack"


MUSICIANS

  • Justin Timberlake: lead vocals, guitar, keys
  • RaVaughn Brown: vocals
  • Camry: vocals
  • Erin Stevenson: vocals
  • Kenyon Dixon: vocals
  • Justin Gilbert: keys
  • Mike Reid: drums
  • Elliot Ives: guitar
  • Derrick Ray: bass
  • Leon Silva: saxophone
  • Kevin Williams: trombone, flute
  • Dontae Winslow: trumpet
  • Sean Erick: trumpet
  • Adam Blackstone: keys, percussion, music direction
  • Andrew Hypes: DJ


TINY DESK TEAM

  • Producer: Bobby Carter
  • Director/Editor: Maia Stern
  • Audio Technical Director: Neil Tevault
  • Videographers: Maia Stern, Kara Frame, Joshua Bryant, Alanté Serene, Elizabeth Gillis
  • Audio Engineers: Kwesi Lee, Adam Blackstone, Danny Cheung
  • Production Assistant: Ashley Pointer
  • Photographer: Estefania Mitre
  • Tiny Desk Copy Editor: Hazel Cills
  • Executive Producer: Suraya Mohamed
  • Series Creators: Bob Boilen, Stephen Thompson
  • VP, Visuals and Music: Keith Jenkins

Copyright 2024 NPR

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Stephen Thompson is a writer, editor and reviewer for NPR Music, where he speaks into any microphone that will have him and appears as a frequent panelist on All Songs Considered. Since 2010, Thompson has been a fixture on the NPR roundtable podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, which he created and developed with NPR correspondent Linda Holmes. In 2008, he and Bob Boilen created the NPR Music video series Tiny Desk Concerts, in which musicians perform at Boilen's desk. (To be more specific, Thompson had the idea, which took seconds, while Boilen created the series, which took years. Thompson will insist upon equal billing until the day he dies.)