Yesterday, Justin Timberlake surprised the world and thrilled his fans by announcing a new album and sharing a one-minute teaser video. There were a lot of clues in that clip that suggested the artistic direction the 10-time GRAMMY winner is headed in for this era, but now his record label has shared new info that appears to contradict what the musician himself seemed to say.
So, what exactly is going on with his new album, and what will it sound like?
When the former *NSYNC member first posted the teaser visual for his fifth solo album Man of the Woods, everybody immediately assumed that he was going to properly try his hand at country. There was the title, plus the woodsy, Americana-esque visual cues, and even the snippets of new tunes in the video all point West—all of which do make sense for Timberlake. Towards the end of the last period of his career, when promotion surrounding his album The 20/20 Experience - 2 of 2 was concluding, he partnered with up-and-coming musician Chris Stapleton for a special country performance and released twangy tune “Drink You Away” as a single, though it wasn’t one of his biggest successes.
Justin has been hinting that a country shift might be coming for some time, and just when it looked like it might be time to hear what he can do when he embraces his Tennessee roots, it turns out there might actually only be more of the same R&B/pop.
Lead single “Filthy” arrives this Friday, and after looking at who Timberlake worked with, it’s tough to imagine it leaning even slightly country. The track was co-produced and co-written by frequent collaborators Timbaland (who was behind some of Justin's biggest hits like "Cry Me a River," "SexyBack," and "Suit & Tie")and Danja (who is finally making a proper return to the mainstream after several years).
At the same time the song drops, Timberlake will release a video directed by Mark Romanek, who is best known for helming visuals for pop and hip-hop songs like Madonna’s “Bedtime Story,” Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” and Jay-Z’s “99 Problems.” Reportedly, it will be colorful and “dance-heavy,” which doesn’t really scream “country.”
RCA Records states that Man of the Woods combines “the sounds of traditional American rock” with “modern influences,” and it will feature names like The Neptunes (Pharrell makes a cameo in the teaser video), Alicia Keys, Timbaland, Danja...and Chris Stapleton. The latter name makes sense given what the teaser suggested, but the rest would likely be more at home on JT’s past albums like FutureSex/LoveSounds or The 20/20 Experience.
So, what can the world expect from Justin’s new full-length? Will it go on to win him a country GRAMMY, or will it be more of the same mix of R&B/dance-pop he’s peddled for years now? Have he and his team somehow found a way to blend all those genres into something brand new? Nobody will truly know until “Filthy” hits on Friday, and is immediately followed up by a new song and video every week until Man of the Woods drops on February 2, but for now, the singer’s latest is quickly shaping up to be one of the most sonically interesting titles of 2018.
If you miss *NSYNC as much as we do, check out the video below!