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Justin Timberlake Defends Miley Cyrus, Offers '20/20' Details

Singer worked with Jay Z and Drake on second half of project

Justin Timberlake
Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for MTV
August 28, 2013 9:20 AM ET

Justin Timberlake yesterday stopped by New York radio station Hot 97, where he defended Miley Cyrus' controversial performance at MTV's Video Music Awards and talked about working with Jay Z and Drake on the second half of his 20/20 Experience project.

In an extensive chat with host Angie Martinez, Timberlake said receiving the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at the VMAs, where he also briefly reunited with 'NSync, was a huge honor. "To even be mentioned in the shadow of the G.O.A.T. [Greatest of All Time], to even be mentioned in the shadow of M.J., you feel like, whoa. It's humbling. It feels sacred in a way," Timberlake said.

Inside Justin Timberlake's '20/20 Experience' Sequel

When Martinez asked what he thought of Cyrus' energetic twerking, Timberlake said, "She's young, take it easy on her," and said it's worth considering the context of the performance. "It's the VMAs. You know what I mean, like, it's not the Grammys," he said. "We're talking about Madonna in a wedding dress humping the stage, we're talking about Britney doing a striptease. This cycle is not uncommon." 

Later, Timberlake added, "If something like that doesn't happen at the VMAs, I feel like it was boring."

With The 20/20 Experience: 2 of 2 due out September 30th, Timberlake talked about how songs for the two albums came together, and described lining up guest contributions. For "Murder," featuring Jay Z, Timberlake said the song happened during a three-week period that also resulted in his "Suit & Tie" and Jay Z's songs "Holy Grail" and "BBC." 

"All of these songs were recorded together a year ago. So the song that Jay's on on the second half, it was a song I had done, and I was like, put an extra 16 bars on there, because I know Hov would like – I just heard him on it," Timberlake said.

His collaboration with Drake, "Caberet," was the result of mutual admiration. "The Drake thing was a song that was sitting around, and I just heard him on it," Timberlake said. "And Drake and I were trying to get at each other about doing a record, and I think we'll probably end up doing more as time goes by as well. The guy sings, raps, whatever. . . . He killed it."

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Song Stories

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

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