When Michael Jackson joined
Years later, and months after Jackson's passing, Timberlake maintains that Jackson's vocal dexterity might be the biggest legacy he's left behind.
"If there's anything that I think my generation of artists — including myself, obviously — emulate about Michael, it's that he felt what he was doing so much that his vocal presentation of the song, you can tell when he was cutting the record he was probably dancing in the booth," Timberlake told MTV News on the red carpet at his Las Vegas charity concert. "At least that's what it seems like to me. That type of energy, that kinetic energy into the music, I think that's what we all try to emulate. From hip-hop to pop to rock and roll, I think that there's inflection that he put into music as a vocalist that no one had ever really heard that way."
Though Timberlake professed to be a huge fan of Jackson's tunes as a kid, he also admitted that he didn't have a true understanding of Jackson's legacy until he left home to pursue a career as an artist. "Growing up in Tennessee, I never really understood the phenomenon that was Michael Jackson or the pandemonium that followed him around," JT said. "I just heard certain songs that I loved as a kid and I gravitated toward those songs. It just so happens that 99.79 percent of his songs are perfect. They're perfect songs. The other whatever percentage are works of art as well."
One work of art he's interested in checking out is "Michael Jackson's This Is It," the upcoming documentary about the singer's final days. "It looks like a more intimate view than anything we've seen," he said. "I'm sure it will be good."
While he's looking forward to catching MJ on the big screen, Timberlake said he doesn't try to invoke his idol in the recording booth — though he's pleasantly surprised when he finds a point of similarity in their music. "You don't imitate it, but you know when you have something that he had," he explained. "You could tell he was just excited about the music he was doing. That's the feeling that you get sometimes and that's when you feel like the king — but other than that, not so much!"
Don't miss "Michael Jackson's This Is It" Premiere Special, airing on MTV and VH1 on Tuesday, October 27 at 8:30 p.m. ET! "Michael Jackson's This Is It" opens in a limited engagement on October 27 and and wide on October 28.
Check out everything we've got on "Michael Jackson's This Is It."