For a split second in history, Timbaland's 2007 album Shock Value was the most ambitious project in music.

The record was born at a strangely chaotic time. My Chemical Romance was at the top of their game, "alt" teens wore dark streaky eyeliner and dissected every lyric to Infinity On High. Robin Thicke's mewling love song "Lost Without U" sat atop Billboard's R&B charts. Kanye West wasn't making problematic operas.

But all of these entities existed separately, as did their fans. T-Pain fans rarely listened to Finger Eleven and visa versa. As a teenage Breaking Benjamin fan, I rarely found myself surrounded by people who also listened to Soulja Boy. But with all this apparent division, Timbaland saw an opportunity: what if I brought all of these sounds together?

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Music Lists

The Battle Series ​Verzuz ​Is Slowly Losing Its Appeal

Lack of star power and corporate backing is causing the show to lose steam.

With the entire world stuck at home sheltering in place, musicians have had to resort to entertaining fans (and themselves) virtually.

While some entertained the weary masses in the form of TikTok videos and Instagram challenges, others went as far as performing concerts and DJ sets from the comfort of their homes. But it would be the platform created by super producers Swizz Beatz and Timbaland that would become the frontrunner in quarantine entertainment.

On March 24, Verzuz was born as a showdown between accomplished artists, songwriters, and producers playing their most popular songs against each other in the spirit of friendly competition. Instagram Live would act as the battleground for the clash of musical titans. Swizz and Timbaland would not only serve as the masterminds of the series but its inaugural battle participants.

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Sydney Sierota of Echosmith Opens Up about Collabs and Sophomore Album

The indie pop band share stories about their latest collabs and messages of hope in their latest tracks.

Nate Hoffman

Indie-pop rock band Echosmith has had a busy couple of months of collaboration and creativity.

The trio collaborated with DJ and producer Audien for "Favorite Sound" and on the Timbaland remix of "God Only Knows" with two-time Grammy-winning duo For King & Country. The uplifting lyrics in both songs highlight a reassuring message that Echosmith ties into all of their music. The resulting tracks are sure to make fans excited for their new album. Popdust was able to catch up with lead singer, Sydney Sierota, to talk about the creative processes behind the tunesand what to expect next.

What was the creative process like when creating "Favorite Sound," and how did the band end up collaborating with Audien?

"Favorite Sound" was already written by us a long time ago, like at least a year ago. We originally wrote it for ourselves, but when you're writing a record, you end up writing way more than you need. With "Favorite Sound," in particular, we had a whole music track for it and everything, but we didn't feel like it was right yet, musically. Then we heard from our manager that Audien wanted to collab, and we got so excited because he had done great work with Lady Antebellum, so it was a cool crossover. We sent him over a bunch of songs, and he ended up liking "Favorite Sound" the most. We didn't end up meeting until the song was out and we were promoting it in New York! We just gave him all the files, and he just went at it. The first draft of the song didn't need much more work on it. I think there was only one tiny, nit-picky thing that we wanted to change. It was so perfect, and it was done within a couple of weeks!

I can't believe that everything went so well, and you all didn't even meet until promotion!

Overall, it was a fun collab, because it was so easy. We were just already on the same creative page, even though we had never met in person.

Was the creative process behind "God Only Knows" with For King & Country just as easy? Tell me about that journey.

For the For King & Country collab, that song already existed. I loved the message and the lyrics, especially because they just hit home for me, and I think it hits home for so many different people. I've truly been in love with their music for a long time. The funny thing is we didn't get to meet them either until we were shooting the song's music video! So again, this all happened over Facetime and text. Joel [Smalbone] from the band and his wife Mariah had known my dad, and they were hanging out and talking about music stuff, and they brought up this Timberland remix to my dad and said they were looking for a female to sing on it. My dad texted me and said, "Hey, would you maybe be interested in this?" All I could say was, "Oh my gosh, yes! I already love the song, and I'll sing on it tomorrow if they let me." We did all the vocals over two days over Facetime, and it was only a couple days after the idea was even brought up. It just all happened super fast! I don't think I've ever done a collab that was that fast.

These songs both have very powerful messages regarding mental health. What do you hope listeners take away or learn from each of the tracks or the music videos?

I think two different messages reside within these songs that kind of play off of each other. "Favorite Sound" was the most vulnerable I had ever been, in regards to songwriting and lyrics, which was scary. The song has only been out for a few months, but so many people relate to it. I think, at least for me, it's so crowded in your head, and sometimes it feels tough to control. It feels very overwhelming when negative thoughts just love to come in. I think it's very important for us to realize that we can be in control of those thoughts and turn them into something [else.] I want to help people realize that it's okay to deal with mental health issues, and it's okay to feel [bad.] With "God Only Knows," that message is also super powerful, and I think it's important that whoever listens to it and sees the video realizes that everybody goes through stuff. It's really important to have sympathy for other people, as well as yourself.

You mentioned earlier that "Favorite Sound" was one of the most vulnerable songs you've ever written. Which lyric from that song speaks to you the most?

I could probably pick out a lot of different ones, but the first one that came to my mind was, "And, I tend to be my own worst enemy." I think we should be our own cheerleader and support ourselves, but it's really hard to do that. That was a hard line to put out there in the world, because it's very vulnerable. That's not every day, but there are days [when] I do feel like my own worst enemy. I think that's my favorite line, because even saying it out loud makes it easier to deal with and turn my perspective upside down in whatever ways I can.

How did you all come up with the music video concepts for "Favorite Sound" and "God Only Knows," and what made you want to express the messages and stories of these songs in that way?

We were pretty lucky and were able to work with some pretty great directors for this. For "Favorite Sound," we worked with this director named Drew Kirsch, and he had a bunch of ideas for the visuals. There's a lot of elements in the video that can be translated in a lot of different ways, but we thought it would be fun to do a more [lighthearted] video to touch on the heavy themes of the song. It's like you have to clean your life out and clean your dirty laundry and deal with that, but also to let go and have fun and realize that "your dirty laundry" isn't forever. If you're dealing with something, it's important to let it go and enjoy life. We loved the idea of performing in a laundromat and having me walk through it, feeling everything, being down, and then showing the opposite of that.

Was the experience with "God Only Knows" different?

"God Only Knows" was a very collaborative effort. Joel was super involved with directing the video. We bounced ideas back and forth as to how we should portray the life of this artist before going on stage. [it's about] putting on your best face no matter what you're doing or what your job is, while trying to balance [negative] feelings. It was cool to have Joel yelling behind the camera and saying things like, "Yeah! Now throw things off the table! Really show us that you're angry!" I'd never done this with another artist before where they were that involved with the video. Joel and Luke were so helpful in helping portray the emotions I needed to portray. It was a fun process.

What kind of goals does Echosmith have in the near and far future? Do you have more collabs planned for this year? Is the album going to be the main focus? What's in the cards for you guys?

Our main, number one goal is to make sure this album that we're working on is as perfect as it can be and that we're as proud of it as we can be and to finish it as soon as possible. It's gonna be done very soon. We want to make sure that it's fully finished before getting into the creative side of things and visually get it to where it's supposed to be. We want to link the music to the visual art of it all. So that's our immediate goal. I definitely want to collaborate more with people in the future, but for now, we're really focusing on Echosmith's music and getting that out there. I'm so excited about all of it!


Remember when Chris Cornell made the greatest album of all time with Timbaland?

The story of Scream, Cornell's flat-out baller album of bangers

"I knew it was gonna be a masterpiece soon as I heard [Cornell's] first words over my track" – Timbaland

Like you, I woke up yesterday to the tragic news that yet another pillar of the grunge-cum-classic rock generation passed away. Vast chasms of the world blasted "Black Hole Sun" in requiem. Other, niftier corners put on some of the cooler, more SST-material of his most famous band's career. The good people at once-peerless tastemaker Pitchfork talked up his later work in Audioslave, a band they used to make fun of. But you know what nobody was talking up? Scream, Chris Cornell's third album as a solo artist and, most notably, produced and co-written with Timbaland, one of the two or three producers entirely responsible for the sound of the last decade. How did such a masterpiece take form?

By 2009, Timbaland's decadewas almost over. Missy Elliot, Timbaland's original muse, was branching out, telling journalists in 2005 that "Both of us came to a spot where we didn't know where to go with each other." Timbaland's beats were barely present on The Cookbook and Missy Elliot hasn't recorded another album since. In her stead, Timbaland recorded FutureSex/LoveSounds, the album that made JT a serious pop star. Basking in that success, JT turned away from music and began repeatedly hosting Saturday Night Live. Timbaland was still making mad crooked beats but who was going to sing them? Madonna? Bjork? Duran Duran? All respect to the boys who made "Hungry Like the Wolf," but these were all people who just wanted to add that Timbaland "Get Ur Freak On"-touch to their well-established sound. What Timbaland needed was somebody who wasn't fronting. Somebody who was willing to dive in the deep end of Mosley's funky grooves, somebody who knew there was some untapped soul sitting at the bottom of that sea.

Cornell, on the other hand, had just broken up Audioslave, the arena-playing supergroup consisting of him and everybody from Rage Against the Machine who wasn't Zack de la Rocha. At the time, he told Rolling Stone, "there's a lot I want to do and I don't want to juggle that with a band." The solo album that followed, Carry On, was a curious affair. Written off by critics as a soft-spoken go at Dylan territory and mostly remembered for the Casino Royale-theme song packed at the end, it also included such stuff as an earnest go at MJ's range (covering, what else, but "Billie Jean"). There was soul shimmering underneath the hammy guitar solos and clapped-on prog drumming. Cornell just needed someone to get it out.

A lifelong rockstar, Cornell was drawn to Timbaland precisely because of how important a hiphop producer, particularly one of Mosley's caliber, has in crafting a sound. "He's somebody who's also a musical genius and a songwriter," Cornell told MTV, "[He] comes in with actual musical ideas." At first, Cornell had the same idea as many—give the weirder elements of Carry On a funky touch, tune down the rock band. Timbaland refused: original material or nothing. Scream was written and recorded in six weeks. There's like one feature and it's JT.

"That bitch ain't a part of me, no that bitch ain't a part of me," Cornell emphasized on "Part of Me." In the emotional space of the jilted lover motif, Cornell discovers the trance-like allure of dancefloor bangers. In the music video, which features a Method Man-cameo, Cornell sits and watches people dance in San Jaun, EL Paso and Queens.

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Justin Timberlake Teases Us With Details About His New Album

Will he be the latest to join the pop-goes-country trend?

During an interview with BBC this week, Justin Timberlake revealed just a smidgetn about what he's been up to in the studio. The question came after BBC Breakfast's Louise Minchin bought up Timberlake's recent collaboration with country group Little Big Town on the song "C'Mon" and asked if we could expect his upcoming album to have a country sound (remember our pop is going country conspiracy theory?)

NBD... Just writing with @littlebigtown This band is the truth!! So good!!!!
A photo posted by Justin Timberlake (@justintimberlake) on Mar 20, 2016 at 11:01pm PDT

Timberlake was coy with details surrounding the album's sound, only saying, "I would not say that I'm making a country album. But I also don't like to say that I'm making an R&B album."

He did go on to give us something to work with, revealing he has worked with his typical set of big-name producers. "I did work with Little Big Town but that was because they were working with Pharrell," he told Minchin. "I have been in the studio with Pharrell, I have been in the studio with Max Martin, I have been in the studio with Timbaland."

It's interesting to see Timberlake work with producers other than longtime-collaborator Timbaland, who was the sole producer on Timberlake's last two albums The 20/20 Experience (2013) and FutureSex/LoveSounds (2006). Timberlake first broke away from his signature neo-soul sound earlier this year with the Max Martin-produced top 40 track "Can't Stop The Feeling".

But there's something about what Timberlake says next that makes us curious as to whether or not he will take on an Americana sound. He goes on to highlight the fact that he grew up in Memphis, one of the musical capitals of the world. "I really did grow up in a place in America where it was like two hours from the country music capital of the world, home of the blues, birthplace of American rock and roll," he says.

Sooo…. we're just gonna assume that means: "Get ready for another yee-haw meets pop banger."

You can watch the full BBC interview here.

Fresh from stealing Katy Perry's thunder at the Super Bowl, Missy Elliott is now FINALLY ready to return to the studio to start recording her long-awaited comeback album.

Missy announced the good news during an interview on SiriusXM's Shade 45--and better yet, she also revealed that she's reuniting with longtime collaborator, Timbaland!

"I'm going down to be with Tim," Missy said about missing the Grammy Awards. "We're gonna get in and get some work done."

When asked if it was for her next album, Missy replied, "We got, uh... I don't wanna say too much, because in this day and time [if] you say something they will come back two weeks later and say, 'Um, where your album at?'"

As Popdust previously reported, Missy's music experienced a huge sales surge on iTunes after the Super Bowl; Her album sales grew an incredible 2,500% from the previous week, while the three hits she performed --Work It, Get Ur Freak On, and Lose Control-- had a 978% rise--which was even higher than the boost Katy's performed singles did!

Hopefully Missy and Tim's fresh sessions in the studio can produce some more hip-hop classics. God knows we need some right now.

Take a listen to Missy's full interview on Shade 45's Sway In The Morning below.