8:54am PT by Sophie Schillaci
Justin Timberlake Woos L.A. Crowd at Album Release Party
Justin Timberlake fans busted out their best suits and ties for a formal affair at the El Rey Theatre on Monday, celebrating the release of the singer's long-awaited third solo album, The 20/20 Experience.
While a good portion of the venue was dedicated to cameras, teleprompters and audio mixers, guests were transported to a greater era at the iHeartRadio- and Target-hosted soiree. To wit: Photographers placed on the mini red carpet bore "Press" cards in their caps while wielding old-timey cameras; show girls -- decked tete to derriere in white feathers -- greeted concert-goers with big smiles and long legs; and cigarette girls doled out red bowties, pocket squares, sheer scarves and lipstick cases. Meanwhile, straight-backed gentlemen offered glasses of champagne to the VIPs upon entrance and hand-passed hors d'oeuvres inside the venue.
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But it wasn't long before the sharply dressed crowd began sweating through their garb.
Ryan Seacrest kicked off the televised event, which was streamed live online and will be broadcast again on The CW Tuesday evening, introducing the man of the hour to big cheers from the audience.
Gliding out onto the stage, Timberlake broke into his next single, "Mirrors," with his band, the Tennessee Kids, throwing all of their support behind him. Asked about the origin of the name later in the show, Timberlake explained that he had always hoped to start a faux band of his own, but "didn't get around to it." Then, when he pieced together his current band, he said: "Imma call you the Tennessee Kids" (a nod to his Southern roots). It stuck.
While sampling two Target-exclusive tracks to the audience at home, Seacrest and Timberlake engaged in several brief Q&A sessions. At one point, Timberlake revealed that "Blue Ocean Floor" was the track that most pushed him outside his comfort zone.
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Performing "Let the Groove Get In," Timberlake said that the song was inspired by The Jackson 5 meets South America. But the King of Pop's influence could be felt in more than just the music: Underneath Timberlake's perfectly pressed pants and black and white-patent leather shoes, bleach-white socks could be seen peeking out.
Timberlake went on to close out the formal portion of the show with "Suit & Tie," confirming to the audience that the second half of The 20/20 Experience (another 10 songs to create a full 20 tracks) would be released at a later date. What that date will be, he would not reveal.
Coming back to the stage sans Seacrest, the former *Nsync frontman delivered a slew of old favorites with not so much as a hint of his former boyband days. "Like I Love You" led right into "My Love," which easily made way for "Cry Me a River." And while Hov's presence was noticeably absent during his "Suit & Tie" verse, Timberlake paid homage to his pal with a brief, seconds-long cover of "N***** in Paris" during "Cry." An unusual pick for his closer, Timberlake opted for "Seniorita," off 2002's Justified, leading the crowd in a call-and-answer. Needless to say, all were happy to oblige.
Just as quickly as he arrived on stage, he was gone, and the attention of the room was quickly re-directed to a group of salsa dancers in the middle of the floor. Hors d'oeuvres passing resumed, and partygoers were able to hit the bar for another round or two before calling it a night at just 8:00 p.m. -- unheard of in a town where artists almost never enter (or exit) the stage on time.
As guests made their way to the exits, all were treated to yet more freebies: the limited-edition Target album, featuring "Dress On" and "Body Count," and a commemorative poster from the event.
Hot off a Saturday Night Live gig, a weeklong stint on Jimmy Fallon and a not-so-surprise showcase at SXSW, Timberlake's life is about to get even more busy. The newlywed embarks on the "Legends of the Summer" tour, co-headlining with Jay-Z, on July 17 and will undoubtedly be doing plenty of promoting on his own in the meantime.
Let the Groove Get In
Suit & Tie
Like I Love You
Cry Me a River
Email: Sophie.Schillaci@THR.com; Twitter: @SophieSchillaci
Pictured below (from left): Clear Channel Media's John Hogan, Ryan Seacrest; Clear Channel's Tom Poleman, Justin Timberlake, Clear Channel's John Sykes, Owen Grover and Tim Castelli