The trouble with Timbaland

If reports of a Saturday Night Fever remake are to be believed, then Timbaland's collaboration with Simon Cowell shows how far downhill he's gone

Jay-Z has been busy sounding the death knell for Auto-Tune, but it looks like hip-hop could have another tragedy on its hands: spare a thought for the slow and sad decline of Timbaland's reputation. If the Sun is to be believed, Simon Cowell is working with the über-producer on a mooted remake of Saturday Night Fever. It's hard to think of three less compatible components (Pharrell, Pete Waterman and Repo: The Genetic Opera?) but Timbaland comes out of it the worst. Apart from the odd solo hit, he's had a terrible couple of years (artistically, if not financially). He's been churning out dross for Ashlee Simpson and Pussycat Dolls. His work with Madonna was risible – Four Minutes sounded like it had been put together with a Timbaland-themed GarageBand Jam Pack. And it would be kinder to skip over the Chris Cornell collaboration entirely.

Has Tim been so busy chasing the money that he's lost his mojo? Or is it that he's no longer working with the people who inspired his best production? When he clicks with an artist, his creativity is mindblowing. Aaliyah's Are You That Somebody? samples a baby's gurgle. Missy Elliott's first two albums, with Timbaland co-production, are astounding, and his contribution to 4 My People, Get Ur Freak On, Work It and Pass That Dutch show just how incredible their working relationship could be. He was responsible for Tweet's Oops (Oh My), Bubba Sparxxx's Warrant, Justin Timberlake's Cry Me a River and SexyBack, Nelly Furtado's Maneater, Omarion's Ice Box (which despite being genius, and possibly due to Omarion's hilarious reaction to the London bombings, never got anywhere) and Destiny's Child's weirdest song, Get On the Bus, which managed to be mainstream girl-group R&B despite lacking any sort of tune. His hitlist is bigger than Missy's inflatable bin-bag suit in The Rain video.

So I'm hoping that the Sun is wrong about this one, because it's been painful to hear his decline, and I don't want some sort of beat-heavy Night Fever hell to add to the misery. Instead, could Timbaland please focus his attentions? As Susan Boyle might attest, Simon Cowell will only bring you down.


Rebecca Nicholson

The GuardianTramp

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