The leading single for Justin Timberlake's first solo album, Like I Love You is everything that a successful pop song is supposed to be. Justin spent many hours both in the lab and cruising around with The Neptunes, trying to devise the ultimate pop song. Much like Dr. Frankenstein, the trio took aspects from Justin's influences and combined them with their respective sounds. Even The Clipse, a rap duo that was taken under the wing of The Neptunes, get in on the pop action. The song focuses on, as the title suggests, love, as Justin sings to an unnamed female. The track debuted at MTV's 2002 Video Music Awards.
Ain't nobody love you like I love you
On the Justified album, Timberlake worked on a total of 7 songs with The Neptunes. To gain inspiration for this cut, Pharrel Williams and Chad Hugo, the two members of The Neptunes, spent a lot of time with Justin listening to the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. As Chad Hugo explains during an interview conducted with MTV, "We listened to Off the Wall and Thriller a bunch of times to really get the feel of them and create something that's not a sample, but similar to those songs without recycling them ... We just wanted to re-create that sense of those timeless, classic songs, without any of the 'bling, bling, hit me on my two-way' style of the new R&B."1 The duo was successful in providing a backing track that featured The Neptunes' signature percussive style, while sounding like it belonged on one of Jackson's albums.
You're a good girl and that's what makes me trust ya
Michael Jackson himself had been a long time idol of Timberlake. His influence shines clearly in Like I Love You. Justin's background vocals are soft, and sound layered, as if Justin is singing several lines at once. He also uses his falsetto voice often, creating different audial textures for the listener. In the video for this song, as well as the video for his second single, Cry Me A River, Timberlake uses many dance moves that come close to mimicing, if not outright copying, the moves made famous by Mr. Jackson.
(HEY) Late at night, I talk to you
The track also pulls a trick from two of Micheal's albums, as well as several other pop and R&B songs. Around 2:45 into the track, Malice and Pusha T, collectively known as The Clipse, provide a light rap over their mentor's beats. While Jackson atleast had a deceased Notorious B.I.G. providing the raps, Timberlake has The Clipse, a duo hailing from Virginia Beach trying to be "upper class gangstas," meaning they rap about cocaine instead of marijuana. Yes, this is what your 12 year old listens to. Thankfully The Clipse spare us a glimpse into their "real lives" and provide a fluffy rap to go with Justin's fluffy lyrics. While it's not as mushy, the duo doesn't say anything worth repeating.
You will know the difference when I touch you
Like I Love You is good for what it is. You could easily spin this track at a high school dance and get a good reaction, although it also worked well in the clubs at the time it came out, near the end of 2002. This song is not a track like Jimi Hendrix's All Along The Watchtower, Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit, The Beatles' Come Together nor Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five's The Message. This track is good pop. It still oozes with bubblegum even though Justin Timberlake claims to have shed that image. However, Like I love You gets lost in the sea of not only pop songs, but songs produced by The Neptunes.
Like I Love You is track 2 on Justin Timberlake's Justified Album. I assume the track was written by J. Timberlake, P. Williams and C. Hugo, but there may have been other people involved. I do not own the CD so I cannot go and check. If anyone has the cd, please let me know so I can put the proper information here. All lyrics are italicized, and are center justified. The four lines compose the song's chorus. For those of you who are wondering, yes, The Clipse rap about pot too. Thank you for not suing. CST Approved