Who would have guessed that in 2013 a Justin Timberlake song would include a skit? Luckily, the brief sketch that opens "That Girl" is less annoying than the skits that marred a whole bunch of rap albums in the past decade, just a brief onstage welcome for Justin and his "act" JT and the Tennessee Kids. It's a retro move, like something out of That Thing You Do, and it fits with the song that follows, one of Timberlake's purest distillations of his soul influences.
On an album that can run overlong and overstuffed "That Girl" itself has an elegant, uncluttered simplicity—a languid melody, insistent horns, a single guitar scribbling away in the background. It introduces itself, says what it needs to say ("I'm in love with that girl") and then steps off the stage in a brisk four minutes. It's sheer, charming competence, from how the drums kick in just so to the way JT skillfully splits the double-time chorus, and it makes "That Girl" one of the high points of The 20/20 Experience.
POPDUST SAYS: 4.5/5
NEXT: "Let the Groove Get in"