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Last Updated: Friday, 7 November, 2003, 13:37 GMT
Timberlake justifies pop stardom
Justin Timberlake
Timberlake was born in Memphis in 1981
Justin Timberlake's domination of the MTV Europe Music Awards in Edinburgh has cemented his status as a musical superstar.

Until a few months ago he was best known as Britney's ex. Now he's being hailed as the new Michael Jackson.

The former children's TV presenter has enjoyed a rapid rise from permed boy band geek to credible R&B star and darling of the pop world.

Asked in Edinburgh how he had done it, he reflected for a moment and said: "Hard work and... and a humble attitude".

His legions of fans will also point to his boyish charm, sweet vocal style and clean-cut sex appeal with just the requisite edge of attitude.

It is a combination that has catapulted him at the age of 22 to challenge chart colossi such as Robbie Williams and the faltering Jackson for the crown of king of pop.

He was born Justin Randall Timberlake on 31 January, 1981, in the musical melting pot of Memphis, Tennessee, where he began performing at an early age.

In a hint of what was to come he won a "Dance Like New Kids on the Block" competition, and came to national prominence aged 11 on the US TV talent show Star Search.

Justin Timberlake
Timberlake became a child TV star in the US
Still a pre-teenager, he went on to host Disney's Mickey Mouse Club alongside future love Spears and Christina Aguilera.

As a member of the 30 million-selling N'Sync, Timberlake began to show his writing prowess with credits for Pop, Gone and Girlfriend from their last album Celebrity.

He has honed these skills on his debut solo album Justified, earning co-writing credits on seven tracks in a blend of R&B, retro rock and hip hop produced by the achingly hip Neptunes and Timbaland.

The album has spent a year in the UK charts and bears witness to a broad musical education, reflecting his upbringing in the home of the blues and Stax soul and the birthplace of rock 'n' roll.

I was addicted to Britney. But that's love for you.
Justin Timberlake
On top of an all-round pop appeal, he enjoys rare credibility as a white performer among the urban crowd - underlined by him landing a Mobo (Music of Black Origin) award in the UK for best R&B act at this year's show.

Timberlake admits to idolising Jackson, and the influence of his musical and spiritual forebear seems never far away in his hook-laden crossover sound.

A marketing makeover which included a bare-chested Rolling Stone magazine cover began the transformation from Timberlake's boy band past.

Now he is the bedroom wall pin-up choice of pre-pubescent girls around the world - and fantasy date of an older female constituency as well as a sizeable gay following.

Britney Spears
Spears and Timberlake split up in 2002
Named the world's most eligible bachelor by People magazine, he is stepping out with 31-year-old Cameron Diaz - one report suggests they will marry next year - and has been linked to Janet Jackson and the actress Alyssa Milano.

But for many he will be forever associated with Spears, from whom he broke up last year amid the inevitable reports of heartbreak and acrimony.

"I was addicted to Britney," he confessed later. "But that's love for you.

"No one knows what went on between us except us. What I will say is I was never unfaithful."

Avoiding the bad-boy behaviour of many of his contemporaries, Timberlake is a philanthropist, donating to the Giving Back fund and establishing a foundation for music education in US public schools.

Less self-obsessed than Williams and naturally more media-adept than Jackson, Timberlake has finally emerged to stake his claim as pop's prince-in-waiting.

My Music: Justin Timberlake
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