A few weeks ago, Nik listed her quintessential JT songs and reminded us all that each new Timberlake album raises the musical bar. She also reminded us that if you piss off Justin Timberlake, he will annihilate you with a sick beat and melody. My hope for 2018 is that he and Jessica Biel get into an epic fight about whose turn it is to take out the trash, leading to his next single, “You’re It.”
So when he released the promo for his new album, Man of the Woods, I was ready for the next level of Timberlake:
Justin exploring nature in what looks like to be William Rast’s 2018 fall menswear line made us believe that this year’s album was going to bring us to his southern roots, or at least closer to this still beautiful performance with Chris Stapleton:
But what’s been released has been a definite departure from my expectations, and I’m sure I’m not really the only one who feels somewhat conflicted about Man in the Woods.
Because I don’t know if I’m feeling this Justin Timberlake.
Rather than steel guitars and lyrics that make you want to sip on a glass of bourbon while in a rocking chair on a front porch – my expectations are somewhat specific – the album’s first two releases boasted a love for electronica and music video concepts that made me my forehead wrinkle.
Then there’s the rate at which these songs have been released: literally a week apart from each other with an album due on February 2nd. When Justin first released “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” it premiered almost five months before the release of the Trolls soundtrack. It gave us time to have it engrained on every aspect of our life: graduations, weddings, professional development conferences. With Man of the Woods and the weekly releases, we haven’t been given the chance to truly digest each song, leaving me to wonder if this is a new marketing ploy or is someone quickly ripping off the bandaid.
But Justin Timberlake’s music deserves more than a bandaid treatment.
His ability to merge varying musical genres – from R&B, rock, or even country – has helped solidify his role as a music genius and innovator. Each album, whether it’s from his time with *NSYNC to the 20/20 Experience, is an evolution. I would be naive not to think that each album may have one or two songs you skip; but for every song you skip, there’s five you listen to on repeat. That’s why Man of the Woods makes me wonder about this evolution of Justin Timberlake: I’ve already skipped these songs on an album that has yet to be release.
Do I absolutely hate these songs? Not at all. Do I love them and have them on repeat? Unfortunately, not at all. Yet.
The first song off of Man of the Woods opens with a declaration, “If you know what’s good,” which had me asking, “Is this good?”
Justin Timberlake is no stranger to singing about sex. The man even brought sexy back, even though no one knew it was missing but whatever. But lines like, “What you gonna to do with all that meat,” or even “What you gonna do with all that beast…walk to me” made me think of some guy doused in Axe Body Spray hitting on me at a bar and not taking my excuse of “Jesus is the only man I’ll ever love” as a hint.
The video didn’t help either.
A robot that thrusts its electronic pelvis? Justin Timberlake rocking my grandfather’s oversized glasses while channeling Steve Jobs? Um, ok.
However, as I started to listen to the song more, it grew on me. That’s my initial problem with this album: Justin Timberlake doesn’t produce songs that “grow” on you. They’re instantaneous and by your third listen, you’ve memorized almost all the lyrics. Of course, those lyrics don’t include a man singing about my meat or my beast…
“Filthy” will most likely be part of his Super Bowl halftime show, which I’m sure will be entertaining and remind us why Justin Timberlake is, well, Justin Timberlake. Whatever you do, Justin, please don’t have the robot come out because that will haunt my nightmares forever.
Clearly, someone was watching both Blade Runners, The Fifth Element, Mad Max, any other futuristic dystopian film I’ve failed to mention.
I cannot with this song, and I’ve tried. Trust me, I’ve tried.
Is this a song about how he met his wife? What supplies is he talking about? Condoms? Nonperishable food? What shit’s about to go down? How does he know?! Why does this sound like the hook of a Lonely Island song, and any minute Andy Samberg is going to pop out with a box on his dick?
All lyrics and techno beat aside, what irks me most about this is the video itself. Throughout the video, Justin is watching various news reels including images from the #MeToo movement. Later we see a woman sporting a shirt that reads, “This pussy grabs back.” While I appreciate his acknowledgement of this movement, the sad irony is not lost on the fact that just last year he was in a film directed by that human douche canoe, Woody Allen. Although multiple actors and actresses have come forth denouncing Allen, Justin Timberlake – a supporter of the Times Up movement – has been relatively silent about the director.
The saying means, for example, you can’t support #TIMESUP and praise sexual predators at the same time. You can’t retain your credibility as an activist (i.e. – retain the cake) and, at the same time, praise a sexual predator (i.e. – eating the cake).
— Dylan Farrow (@RealDylanFarrow) January 23, 2018
Justin, just call him out already. You can even synthesize your voice and have Pharrell Williams produce it if that makes you feel more comfortable.
The Saving Grace
While I was “researching” for this piece, this new song was just released yesterday *shocking*:
“Say Something” is what I was hoping for: strong vocals, beautiful melodies, raw and real. If these two men don’t start their own side band project, there is no logic in this universe. However, if that robot comes out and dances while Chris Stapleton lays down a sweet guitar riff, I’ll flip a table.