Fortunately, there’s Justin Timberlake, who has been seemingly immune to bad decisions and embarrassing meltdowns on the road from Orlando-based childhood days on “The New Mickey Mouse Club” and bubble-gum pop to a solid second act as a movie star and solo act. If not for a memorable wardrobe malfunction, his record would be spotless.
At the moment, Timberlake is immersed in his musical career. When his 20 / 20 Experience World Tour stops Thursday, Dec. 19, at Amway Center in Orlando, he will showcase songs off not one, but two new pop albums, “The 20 / 20 Experience” and “The 20 / 20 Experience 2 of 2,” a follow-up featuring 10 new songs.
Both have been well-received by critics, with the two-album project hailed by USA Today as “ambitious as anything” and its second installment praised by People magazine as “a stellar set in its own right.” The follow-up topped the iTunes chart in 45 countries.
He’s still acting. The day after his Orlando tour stop, Timberlake will be on movie screens as a star of the new Coen Brothers film, “Inside Llewyn Davis.” And he’s happily married to actor Jessica Biel, after a high-profile bachelorhood that included relationships with Britney Spears and Cameron Diaz.
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Oh, he’s funny on Saturday Night Live, too.
Put it all together and Timberlake, 32, might be the most well-adjusted pop star ever. Here’s a timeline of how it happened:
•In the cradle of the blues: Justin Randall Timberlake was born Jan. 31, 1981 in Memphis, Tenn., where he was influenced by the Baptist church and the blues. On “Justified,” his 2002 solo debut album, Timberlake would put that background to use: “Growing up where I grew up in Memphis, Tenn., you know, it’s a very blues-influenced [region.],” he told the Orlando Sentinel in 2002. “I think you’ll hear a lot of that.”
•Searching for stardom: At age 11, Timberlake appeared on the TV talent show “Star Search,” singing country songs under the stage name Justin Randall. For better or worse, his country phase was short-lived.
•M-I-C-K-E-Y…: In 1993 and 1994, Timberlake moved to Orlando after a successful audition to become a cast member on “The New Mickey Mouse Club,” a kid-friendly variety show produced at Disney-MGM Studios (now known as Disney’s Hollywood Studios). The lineup was a Who’s Who of future stars that included Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, JC Chasez and Ryan Gosling.
•Birth of a boy-band: Near the end of his “Mouse Club” stint, Timberlake recruited Chasez to join a fledgling boy-band being put together by manager Lou Pearlman, who had already used a similar formula to create the Backstreet Boys. In 1995, ‘N Sync formed with Timberlake, Chasez, Lance Bass, Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick.
•Teen-pop mania: In 1998, ‘N Sync’s self-titled debut album sold 11 million copies on the strength of hits such as “Tearin’ Up My Heart.” Combined with follow-up albums “No Strings Attached” (2000) and “Celebrity” (2001), ‘N Sync sold more than 50 million albums and performed at a Super Bowl, a feat that Timberlake would repeat infamously as a solo act.
•Justified: Timberlake’s 2002 debut solo album, “Justified,” combined the singer’s pop style with influences that ranged from Michael Jackson‘s “Off the Wall” to the blues-oriented sounds of his childhood.
•Wardrobe malfunction: Timberlake’s career took a hit two years later, however, when he tore off part of Janet Jackson‘s top, exposing her breast for an instant at the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show. The wardrobe malfunction resulted in Congressional hearings and prompted the Federal Communications Commission to hike the fine for indecency violations from $27,500 to $325,000.
•Bringing Sexy Back and beyond: After another solo album, “FutureSex/LoveSounds” (2006), Timberlake took a break from music to focus on acting. He starred in a string of popular films, most notably playing Napster founder Sean Parkerin “The Social Network” (2010) and teaming with Mila Kunis in the romantic comedy “Friends With Benefits” (2011). Then, it was back to music with “The 20 / 20 Experience” albums and tour, the latest chapter in an appealing success story.
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What: 20/20 Experience World Tour
When: 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 19
Where: Amway Center, 400 W. Church St., Orlando