Slow Jam Saturday: Justin Timberlake, Why, When, How
Derrick Dunn

Derrick Dunn

Slow Jam Saturday: Justin Timberlake, Why, When, How

In the spring of 2002, boy band NSync decided to take a hiatus following their successful Celebrity tour. During this time, the group’s co-lead singer Justin Timberlake began working on his solo album Justified, which went on to sell ten million copies worldwide.


Primarily an R&B album, Justified found Timberlake maturing as an artist and leaving the pop sound behind. A who’s who of producers including The Neptunes, Timbaland, Scott Storch, The Underdogs, and Brian McKnight worked on the album. Three of my favorite slow jams from 2002 were on Justified. The Neptunes produced “Take It From Here,” “Still On My Brain” from The Underdogs, and “Never Again” from the pen of Brian McKnight. Those songs are all worthy of a Slow Jam Saturday spotlight; however, I decided to go with one of the songs that didn’t make the final track list “Why, When, How.”


I discovered “Why, When, How” in the spring of 2003 while working at Target. In support of their upcoming co-heading tour, The Justified & Stripped Tour, Timberlake and Christina Aguilera released an EP entitled Justin & Christina, exclusively at Target Stores. The EP featured two remixes and one unreleased song from both artists, with “Why, When, How” serving as Timberlake’s contribution.


Timberlake worked with producers Dre & Vidal on the tracks where he croons about lost love. As we all know, Justin had a highly publicized break up with pop princess Britney Spears before releasing his album. Therefore, it is clear that this is another song about Spears, and that is not bad as the best songs come from personal experience. 


From the moment Justin sings the opening lyrics, “You’re still captivating even though it’s been so long You used to love me tell me baby what went wrong  ‘Because now you march to the beat of a different song” to when he arrives at the chorus “Why did you take away your love When did you think to just give up How am I supposed to carry on now” the listener feels his pain.


I can understand why Justin decided to omit the song from the album, as the theme of crooning over Britney was already prevalent on Justified, particularly with the massive hit “Cry Me A River.” Nevertheless, “Why, When, How” is a gem in Timberlake’s ballad catalog and is still in my rotation today.


Final Grade: A


“Why, When, How” can be found on YouTube.

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