Mirrors (Justin Timberlake song)

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"Mirrors"
Single by Justin Timberlake
from the album The 20/20 Experience
B-side"Suit & Tie"
ReleasedFebruary 11, 2013 (2013-02-11)
Format
RecordedJune 2012; Larrabee Studios (North Hollywood)
Genre
Length8:05 (album version)
4:37 (radio edit)
LabelRCA
Writer(s)
Producer(s)
  • Timbaland
  • Justin Timberlake
  • Jerome "J-Roc" Harmon
Justin Timberlake singles chronology
"Suit & Tie"
(2013)
"Mirrors"
(2013)
"Tunnel Vision"
(2013)
The 20/20 Experience track listing
"Let the Groove Get In"
(8)
"Mirrors"
(9)
"Blue Ocean Floor"
(10)
 
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"Mirrors"
Single by Justin Timberlake
from the album The 20/20 Experience
B-side"Suit & Tie"
ReleasedFebruary 11, 2013 (2013-02-11)
Format
RecordedJune 2012; Larrabee Studios (North Hollywood)
Genre
Length8:05 (album version)
4:37 (radio edit)
LabelRCA
Writer(s)
Producer(s)
  • Timbaland
  • Justin Timberlake
  • Jerome "J-Roc" Harmon
Justin Timberlake singles chronology
"Suit & Tie"
(2013)
"Mirrors"
(2013)
"Tunnel Vision"
(2013)
The 20/20 Experience track listing
"Let the Groove Get In"
(8)
"Mirrors"
(9)
"Blue Ocean Floor"
(10)

"Mirrors" is a song recorded by American singer-songwriter Justin Timberlake for his third studio album, The 20/20 Experience (2013). First conceived in 2009, the track was inspired by the love for his wife, Jessica Biel, and his grandparents. Timberlake wrote and produced it with Timothy "Timbaland" Mosley and Jerome "J-Roc" Harmon, with additional writing from James Fauntleroy. The song peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States.

Production and writing[edit]

"Mirrors" was inspired by the love for his wife, Jessica Biel (pictured), and his grandparents.

"Mirrors" was written and produced by Justin Timberlake, Timothy "Timbaland" Mosley and Jerome "J-Roc" Harmon, with additional writing from James Fauntleroy.[1] During an interview with Billboard magazine, Harmon recalled how the song was conceived in 2009, during the recording sessions for Timbaland's third studio album Shock Value II, "He's [Timberlake] like, 'I'm gonna save this one, and this is gonna go on my album.' We never knew when he was going to put it out – we were like, 'Aw man, you're in movies now!' We could have waited another 10, 15 years. But then he surprised us last year and said he was ready, and he brought ['Mirrors'] over to the project as well."[2]

Although the final version of "Mirrors" is eight minutes long, Harmon stated that its second half which is more R&B oriented in comparison with the first part which is rock-influenced was made years later and independent of the original track, "We segued each piece to go into another song, so if you were to break it up, that second part of 'Mirrors' is like a song by itself. Once we got all the songs that [Timberlake] knew he wanted on this album, then that's when we began to tie everything together, and the second part just fell in order."[2]

"Mirrors" was engineered by Chris Godbey, with assistance from Alejandro Baima. Timberlake arranged and produced his vocals, which were recorded at Larabee Studios in North Hollywood, California. The song was mixed by Jimmy Douglass, Godbey and Timberlake at Larabee Studios. Harmon provided keyboards for the song, while Elliot Ives played the guitar. The strings in the song were played by Benjamin Wright and The Benjamin Wright Orchestra.[1]

On March 21, 2013, Timberlake posted an audio clip on his official website; in it he elaborated that "Mirrors" is very special song for him. The singer explained that the single is a love song about person's other half and admitted that is inspired by his love for wife Jessica Biel and the marriage of his grandparents.[3] Timberlake further said, "One of the most valuable things in a relationship is being able to constantly change and be individual, but look to the other side to the person that you're with and know that they're changing as well individually, but somehow you two can mirror each other and be the other half of that world that you both create."[3]

Release[edit]

On February 10, 2013, Timberlake wrote on his Twitter account that there will be a special surprise following his performance at the 2013 Grammy Awards.[4] On February 11, "Mirrors" was digitally released worldwide as the second single from his album, The 20/20 Experience.[5] It was available to buy as either as a stand-alone track or as an "instant-gratification download" when a customer pre-ordered the album.[6] On March 1, it was released in Germany as a CD single, which it also contained the lead single from the album, "Suit & Tie".[7] A radio edit of the single, was released for digital download on March 13 in France,[8] Spain[9] and the United States.[10] On April 16, it was solicited to contemporary hit[11] and rhythmic radio stations in the United States.[12] Additionally, "Mirrors" was sent to adult contemporary radio on April 22[13] and to urban contemporary radio on May 14.[14]

Composition and lyrical interpretation[edit]

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A 29 second sample of "Mirrors", a mid-tempo pop ballad and an R&B song. It features emo power ballad guitar strobes, hand-claps, orchestral flares, electro blips, chipmunk synth chirps accompanied with "vocoder-squawk backing vocals".

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Mirrors" is a mid-tempo pop and an R&B ballad[15][16] with an approximate length of eight minutes and five seconds.[17] It is composed in the key of E major, set in common time and has a moderately slow groove of 77 beats per minute.[18] Timberlake's vocals span from the low note of E3 to the high note of C5 (sheet music commonly prints the notes of a melody an octave higher to keep it within the staff).[18] The original mix has an instrumentation of emo power ballad guitar strobes, hand-claps, orchestral flares, electro blips and chipmunk synth chirps accompanied with "vocoder-squawk backing vocals",[19] and the orchestra has a noticeable much-lower volume than the percussion and electric guitars.[20]

Brad Stern of MTV Buzzworthy wrote that it is hugely catchy and contains melodies that have arena-size.[21] Paste's Lauren Martin described it as "Coldplay-does-r’n'b",[22] while according to Raible, "Mirrors" is a sad answer to Natalie Imbruglia's 1997 single "Torn".[16] Mikael Wood of Los Angeles Times described it as a cross between Timberlake's 2002 single "Cry Me a River" and "November Rain" by Guns N' Roses.[23]

HitFix's Melinda Newman wrote that the melody features layer upon layer of the singer's vocals stacked upon each other.[24] Dolan described Timberlake's singing on the song as a "replete with laidback soulfulness, mountain-climbing croon and falsetto butter."[19] Jason Lipshutz of Billboard stated that aside from the presence of Timbaland's "fantastically cluttered production", the difference between "Mirrors" and "Cry Me a River" is clear: "10 years ago, Timberlake was broken, and now he is whole".[25] The conclusion can be seen in the opening lyrics:

Aren't you somethin' to admire?
Cause your shine is somethin' like a mirror
And I can't help but notice

You reflect in this heart of mine.[17]

"Mirrors" is a "new-age wedding reception song".[26] Lyrically, in the song, Timberlake sings to a lover about "coming to the realization" that she is his "other half".[27] The singer references "taking a break from the relationship", with MTV News noting that "just like he did with his now-wife, Jessica Biel": "It was easy coming back to you/ Once I figured it out, you were right here all along," he sings on the chorus.[27] "It's like you're my mirror, my mirror staring back at me/ I couldn't get any bigger/ With anyone else beside of me."[28] Vibe's Charley Rogulewski wrote that the strength of the song is in Timberlake's Neo blue-eyed soul delivery of the "catchy" lyrics, "I don't want to lose you now. I'm looking right at the other half of me."[29] During its length, a robot voice repeats the phrase "you are the love of my life" over 35 times.[30]

Critical response[edit]

Jenna Hally Rubenstein of MTV Buzzworthy commented in a positive review, "Unlike "Suit & Tie"'s sultry and retro vibes, the selfie-taker's new jam reminds us a bit more of Justin's FutureSex/LoveSounds days with layered synths and ridiculously club-ready pop production courtesy of JT's main man Timbaland."[31] Scott Shetler of Popcrush gave the single four stars out of five, writing: "The song relies on Timbaland’s familiar handclap-style beats and layers of synths and vocals, which instantly embed their way into your brain ... over a bed of gentle piano twinkling and a distorted Timbaland vocal loop, JT delivers some falsetto crooning and a heavy dose of “oohs” and “aahs.”"[32] Another favorable review came from Digital Spy's Robert Copsey, who wrote: "Despite musical shifts in the intervening 11 years and the absence of a cheating girlfriend, [the single] still manages to sound remarkably fresh. "It's like you're my mirror/ My mirror staring back at me," he tells his lover over head-nodding Timbaland beatboxing and grandiose strings, before spilling his guts about how he should never have left them in the first place."[33]

However, Marc Hogan of Spin Magazine provided a mixed review, stating "And how does the former 'N Sync singer choose to crown his return to pop prominence but with a pickup line even MxPx wouldn't touch? Backed with music that's a cross between luxe Bruno Mars '80s-grenade balladry and those human beatbox hiccups that, in all honesty, were starting to be played out even when Timberlake tapped Timbaland to use them, brilliantly, on FutureSex/LoveSounds?"[34] Vibe's Charley Rogulewski wrote that the singer renders the song more like a pop performer than a R&B, and puts a "wider space between him and the likes of Robin Thicke. This man is making a serious comeback".[29] Andy Kellman of Allmusic unfavorably described the song as "less an epic than a drawn-out midtempo pop ballad" and "not one of [Timberlake's] more remarkable singles."[35]

In a monthly mix review published in Sound on Sound, Mike Senior was not positive towards the track, feeling that the live strings used in the track were wasted, and sounded too low of volume compared to the other instruments.[20]

Commercial performance[edit]

In the US, "Mirrors" debuted at number 24 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and sold 163,000 copies in its first week.[36] In its third week the song fell to number 97, however it rebound to 77 in its forth week on the chart.[37] In its sixth week on the chart, the song peaked at number 13 and for the issue dated June 15, 2013, "Mirrors" reached its peak on the chart at number two.[38] For the week dated June 1, 2013, the single topped the US Pop Songs chart and tied Timberlake for most number-ones with singer Bruno Mars; each of them has six.[39] The song topped the chart for three consecutive weeks.[38] "Mirrors" also topped the Adult Pop Songs chart[40] and reached number eight on the Adult Contemporary chart.[41] It was certified double platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and sold over 3 million digital copies in the US.[42] On the Canadian Hot 100, the single reached a peak of number four.[43] "Mirrors" was certified double platinum by Music Canada, selling over 160,000 digital copies in the country.

"Mirrors" debuted at number one on the UK Singles Chart on March 3, 2013. It became Timberlake's second solo single to top the chart and fourth song overall.[44] The single topped the chart for three consecutive weeks.[45] It also reached number on the Scottish Singles Chart[46] and number two on the Irish Singles Chart.[47] "Mirrors" peaked number two on the German Singles Chart[48] and was certified platinum by Bundesverband Musikindustrie (BMVI) for selling over 300,000 digital copies in the country. The single debuted and peaked at number four on the Danish Singles Chart; it stayed on the position for two weeks.[49] IFPI Denmark certified the song platinum for selling over 30,000 copies. In Switzerland, "Mirrors" peaked at number five on the Swiss Singles Chart and stayed on its peak for four weeks.[50] The song debuted on the Norwegian Singles Chart at number 18. It its fourth week, it reach a peak of number seven and stayed on the position for two consecutive weeks.[51]

The single debuted on the Australian Singles Chart at number 26 on March 24, 2013. After eight weeks on the chart, it reached its peak of number 10 on May 12, 2013.[52] It also reached number one on the Australian Urban Singles Chart.[53] "Mirrors" was certified double platinum by the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) for selling over 140,000 copies in the country. In New Zealand, the song debuted at number 23 on March 4, 2013. After five weeks on the chart, on April 1, 2013, "Mirrors" reached its peak of number seven on the chart and stayed on the position the next week.[54] Recording Industry Association of New Zealand (RIANZ) certified it platinum for selling over 15,000 copies in the country.

Music video[edit]

The music video was directed by Floria Sigismondi[55] and saw its world premiere as the highlight of an hour-long special on The CW in celebration of The 20/20 Experience's release.[56] Timberlake dedicated the music video to his maternal grandparents William and Sadie Bomar, who were married for 63 years until William's death in 2012.[56] The video is choreographed by Noemie Lafrance.

It features montages of three separate time periods of a couple's life, from their initial introduction and whimsically falling in love on a funhouse date, to the difficult start of their marriage with a pregnancy, to when they have grown old together and the old lady packing up her recently deceased husband's belonging whilst reflecting on their life together.

At the beginning, the elderly woman looks back in her teen year in the 1950s when she meets her husband in a bar and goes on a date to a funhouse. Then, in the 60s, she cries with black mascara all over her face as she is pregnant and they are unmarried. Meanwhile, the elderly woman, who sees the events of her teen years and interspersed with scenes of her and her husband dancing for the last time before they move out, walks into a mysterious room where an old man is seen staring at the real life woman in her white wedding dress next to two mannequin people while rain pours down on the glass. This is probably symbolizing that he always viewed his wife as beautiful as the day they married. She moves through the video while the old man and the elderly woman move walk through separate ways through the video and through the mirrors symbolizing his death and her moving on.

During the final chorus, one of the books the teenaged couple left on the floor of the funhouse falls back into the elderly woman's hand as she closes the book. The old woman is then seen with a ring which is revealed in flashbacks to be her wedding ring, after she married her husband due to the pregnancy. Her husband looks on and they move through separate areas before the end of the video where the old man and woman walk through three versions of mirrors. The elderly woman drops the ring showing she is ready to move on after her husband's death, which then transitions into Timberlake catching it (symbolizing that he's carrying on their legacy). He then sings while dancing through and around the funhouse mirrors. Eventually he is joined by two female dancers in blue wigs. Justin and one of the other dancers eventually mirror each other's movements through glass at the end of the video.

Mirrors won the MTV Video Music Award for Video Of The Year at the 2013 awards show.

MTV News' James Montgomery praised the video, saying

"It's a clip that packs an emotional wallop, a downright beautiful examination of the ebbs and flows of love and the true connection that continues once our time here is over. That's a rare thing indeed, and so is this video ... it is understated and elegant and really truly touching".[57]

Timberlake's grandmother Sadie Bomar told Italian weekly Grazia that "Justin didn't tell me he was doing it [making the video], it was a surprise. He said, “You have to see this video, just you sit down and watch it". I was moved by it, it brings tears to my eyes. It's a lovely tribute to us.’[58] "

Cover versions[edit]

Track listing[edit]

CD single[7]
  1. "Mirrors" – 8:05
  2. "Suit & Tie" (featuring Jay Z) – 4:29

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits adapted from the liner notes of The 20/20 Experience.[1]

Locations
Personnel
  • Timothy "Timbaland" Mosley – producer, songwriter
  • Justin Timberlake – Mixer, producer, songwriter, vocal producer, vocal arranger, guitar
  • Jerome "J-Roc" Harmon – keyboards, producer, songwriter
  • James Fauntleroy – songwriter
  • Chris Godbey – engineer, mixer
  • Jimmy Douglass – mixer
  • Alejandro Baima – assistant engineer
  • Elliot Ives – guitar
  • Benjamin Wright and The Benjamin Wright Orchestra – strings

Charts and certifications[edit]

Weekly charts[edit]

Chart (2013)Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[52]10
Australia (Urban Singles Chart)[53]1
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[64]7
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[65]17
Belgium (Ultratop Flanders Urban)[65]3
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[66]35
Brazil (Billboard Brasil Hot 100)[67]26
Brazil Hot Pop Songs[67]5
Bulgaria (IFPI)[68]1
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[43]4
Czech Republic (IFPI)[69]14
Croatia (Airplay Radio Chart)[70]1
Denmark (Tracklisten)[49]4
Europe (Euro Digital Songs)[71]1
Finland (Suomen virallinen lista)[72]12
France (SNEP)[73]15
Germany (Media Control AG)[48]2
Hungary (Rádiós Top 40)[74]2
Hungary (Single Top 20)[75]6
Ireland (IRMA)[47]5
Italy (FIMI)[76]14
Luxembourg (Billboard)[77]6
Mexico Ingles Airplay (Billboard)[78]6
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[79]7
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[54]7
Norway (VG-lista)[51]7
Poland (Polish Airplay Top 20)[80]1
Poland (Dance Top 50)[81]22
Portugal (Billboard)[82]10
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[46]1
Slovakia (IFPI)[83]3
South Africa (Mediaguide)[84]1
South Korea Gaon International Chart[85]3
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[86]19
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[87]16
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[50]5
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[88]1
UK R&B (Official Charts Company)[89]1
US Billboard Hot 100[90]2
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[41]3
US Adult Top 40 (Billboard)[40]1
US Mainstream Top 40 (Billboard)[91]1

Certifications[edit]

RegionCertificationSales/shipments
Australia (ARIA)[92]2× Platinum140,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[93]2× Platinum160,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[94]Platinum30,000^
Germany (BVMI)[95]Platinum300,000^
Italy (FIMI)[96]Platinum30,000*
Mexico (AMPROFON)[97]Gold30,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[98]Platinum15,000*
Sweden (GLF)[99]Platinum40,000x
Switzerland (IFPI Switzerland)[100]Platinum30,000x
United Kingdom (BPI)[101]Platinum600,000^
United States (RIAA)[102]2× Platinum2,000,000[42]

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone

Year-end charts[edit]

Chart (2013)Position
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[103]16
Hungary (Rádiós Top 40)[104]19
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[105]20
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[106]10
US Billboard Hot 100[107]6

Accolades[edit]

YearCeremonyAwardResult
2013Teen Choice AwardsChoice Love SongNominated
MTV Video Music AwardsVideo of the YearWon
Best Male VideoNominated
Best Pop VideoNominated
Best Editing in a VideoWon
MTV Europe Music AwardsBest VideoNominated
2014Grammy AwardsBest Pop Solo PerformanceNominated[108]

Release history[edit]

CountryDateFormatLabel
Canada[5]February 11, 2013Digital downloadSony
France[109]
Germany[110]
Ireland[111]
Netherlands[112]
Norway[113]
New Zealand[114]
Singapore[115]
Spain[116]
Sweden[117]
United Kingdom[118]RCA
United States[119]
Germany[7]March 1, 2013CD singleSony
France[8]March 13, 2013Digital download (Radio Edit)
Spain[9]
United States[10]RCA
Italy[120]April 12, 2013Contemporary hit radioSony
United States[11][12][13][14]April 16, 2013Contemporary hit radioRCA
Rhythmic radio
April 22, 2013Adult contemporary radio
May 14, 2013Urban contemporary radio

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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