On Thursday night, Entertainment Weekly was proud to host a party in honor of the year’s biggest producer and a true, how-you-say, visionary of the music industry: Timothy Mosley, aka Timbaland. (Frankly, we’ll take any excuse to throw a party, but this one was better than most.) With collaborators Nelly Furtado and Justin Timberlake up for Grammys on Sunday, it seemed a terrific time to shine a light on the guy, and plenty of folks turned up to celebrate his work (and drink free Hennessey).
”I am only here because I love that man,” said American Idol judge Randy Jackson — not a bad producer in his own right. ”He’s always trying to push the envelope.” Idol host Ryan Seacrest, Jackson’s date for the evening, most certainly agreed: ”There’s Timbaland, and there’s silence. Without Tim, there’s nothing to play on the radio.” Seacrest hinted that Idol was working on getting the producer to appear the show… soon. ”He’s already talked about it,” Seacrest said. ”He mentioned it outside (on the red carpet). He said, just name the night and he’ll come.” Timbaland has already proven he can take the most innocuous pop artists and turn them into legitimately edgy superstars, thanks to the Grammy-nominated work he did in 2006 with Timberlake and Furtado. Timbaland also skews to Idol‘s younger audience better than the show’s typically older guest-artist judges, and would seemingly be more qualified to assess what it takes to be the next hit-making American Idol. In his day job as host of American Top 40 and the L.A.-based KIIS-FM morning show, Seacrest said he sees Timbaland-produced tracks rocket straight to the top of the rotation every time they debut. ”I said to Nelly Furtado the other day, ‘What the hell does he do?”’ he remembered. ”She said, ‘It’s the Midas touch. It’s just this magic.’ ”
Furtado herself was in attendance at Tim’s party, where she threw down an a cappella tribute from the DJ booth. ”Timmy, Timmy, Timmy listen to me / cause I’m talking to you right now / If you wanna wanna wanna write another hit with me / I think I’ll show you how / You’re the one with all the magic and / You’re the one with all the fire and / You’re the one with all the power, yeah / Baby this is your year…” and then instructed him to never die, because ”if you die, I die too.”
Offstage, the red-hot Furtado — whose image was somewhat mousy prior to releasing the Timbaland-produced ”Promiscuous” in 2006 — explained the man’s magic thusly: ”With Timbaland, I feel invincible. He makes me feel larger than life. He makes me feel untouchable. He doesn’t think, he feels. And that’s what he brought me: the ability to use my instincts.”
Other guests raising a glass to the man with the scientific style included the afroed half of Gnarls Barkley, Danger Mouse, and former ‘N Syncer JC Chasez — who is perhaps hoping for Timberlake-style results by drafting Timbaland to work on his second solo album. Chasez’s reports of the Timbastyle were just as flattering as everyone else’s: ”We were working on this one song, and I said, ‘This is what I’m feeling…’ and he goes, ‘Scrap that. Gimme three hours.’ He goes away and comes back three hours later with new ideas, and I was like, ‘That’s me. I don’t know how you did that, but yes! That’s what I’m talking about!’ So I worked on my vocal ideas and storylines that night, and then he got excited and reworked it again. Really, it was like a game of ping-pong. We were feeding off each other.”
Perhaps Furtado got to the heart of it, though, when she said the best thing Tim ever said to her was, ”I don’t think you can do this.” Ah, reverse psychology, the perfect tactic for toddlers… and pop stars!
The fancily clad danced the night away to a mix of Timbaland’s greatest hits while the man himself sat in a banquette at the end of the glittering hall, bathed in flashbulbs and adoration as guest after guest stopped by to pledge allegiance. In looking forward to what 2006’s biggest producer will — or should — do next, everyone had an opinion. Seacrest suggested he collaborate with Barry Manilow; Jackson hoped he’d tackle country artists like Big & Rich or Gretchen Wilson. But in the end, the only person whose opinion really matters is Timbaland himself. ”It’s gonna start in 2007,” he promised. ”It’s gonna really kick off.” The thing he’s most excited about doing this year is working with Coldplay, of course, which he predicts will start in April. But wait, how is he going to fuse the piano with the synth beats and the… ”Easy,” he said, cutting off any doubts. ”You gotta see it. I don’t really know. I’m just gonna see what we come up with.”
In the meantime, the release of his solo album, Timbaland Presents Shock Value, means he’s gotta get out of the studio and figure out how to handle mega-stardom, too. ”I’m ready,” he said. ”I’m definitely ready. I got a lot of ideas I gotta get out my head. I’m gonna shock the world.”