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Justin Timberlake’s ‘TKO’ Is No Less Embarrassing on ‘Ellen’

Justin Timberlake on "Ellen"

Justin Timberlake’s “TKO” is a song about losing a fight to a vagina (metaphorically, we think). This is self-evidently cringeworthy before you even press play and hear Timbaland stutter “she kill me with the coo-coochie-coochie-coo” or listen to Timberlake try to fill 7-minutes with boxing metaphors (there are no whistles in boxing, Justin). Logic would hold that it’d be even more painful to watch all of this happen in public, and that’s exactly the case with his performance of “TKO” on The Ellen DeGeneres Show — even though Timberlake is supposed to be a “vanguard” this entire thing is kind of like watching your dad sing about sex. (Sorry for that image.)

“TKO” is the second single — following “Take Back the Night” — from The 20/20 Experience: 2 of 2, his super-long new album that we like a bit less than its predecessor The 20/20 Experience. Though the record brings Timberlake and Timbaland closer to the futurist funk they imagined on FutureSex/LoveSounds, it is still a decidedly retro record that, as Jason King notes, finds Timberlake attempting “to convince you that he’s the living embodiment of Michael Jackson.” We recommend that instead of listening to that, you explore our primer on the stuff that helped make Timberlake happen: “The 30 Best Disco Songs That Every Millenial Should Know.”