Justin Timberlake has embarked on the European leg of his 20/20 Experience tour and the general consensus so far is that he is probably the best showman in the whole bloody world. But before you call him a self-satisfied wanker, hear us out.
It's easy to hate successful pop stars. Harry Styles. Justin Bieber. The Jonas Brothers. They've never going to be in your iTunes library. You're never going to grasp why your girlfriend lusts for their teenage torsos.
On paper, Justin Timberlake should be the same. As 20% of soppy crooners *NSYNC (yes, that * is part of the name), Justin had the hallmarks of the boy band bell end. Fresh-faced good looks. Designer bleached-blonde curls. The smugness that seeps from only the pores of a man who's shagged Britney Spears.
But even if you hated Justin then, you don't now. Or at least you shouldn't. Because unlike every other tween-friendly Ken-Doll boybander in history, Justin used his powers of global infamy for good, not evil.
After disbanding the world's biggest pop group in 2002, JT - as he's rebranded himself - managed to convince Pharrell and Timbaland, the two biggest names in hip hop at the time, to collaborate with him. The result? Like I Love You. Cry Me A River. Rock Your Body. Three extremely good pop songs and the first to meld hip-hop production values with insanely catch pop choruses. Listen to any chart music today and the chances are you can trace its roots back to Justified.
If that wasn't enough to win you over, JT then proved that he could act too, and act bloody well, first in the underrated Alpha Dog, then as Napster founder Sean Parker in The Social Network, before starring in girlie-romcom-that's-actually-good Friends With Benefits. 2013 saw him return to the big screen in Runner Runner, which was tipped as one of the best movies of the year. Not a bad accompaniment to one of the most critically acclaimed albums of 2013.
So, next time someone asks you what you think of Justin Timberlake, don't conform to peer pressure and try to convince yourself he's a twat. Just because he's married to Jessica Biel and you're not, that doesn't make him a bastard. Instead, raise a toast to the man who groped Janet jackson live n stage in front of millions and lived to tell the tale.
Words by Dan Jude.