When Justin Timberlake waded into a snow-dusted field replete with charging horses, a pristine creek and sun-drenched wheat to announce that his new album, Man Of The Woods, would honor his home state of Tennessee, we could almost hear the banjos, fiddles, and washboards. And people had plenty of offered various temperatures of hot takes at the idea of the white superstar who spent decades making traditionally black music only to seemingly backtrack to country after a few foot-in-mouth kerfuffles.
Yet as he dropped a new single and corresponding video every week leading up to the full album release on Feb. 2, they have included anything but. Until now. On Thursday, JT dropped the enthralling and country-lite “Say Something” featuring country star Chris Stapleton.
When Timberlake and Stapleton performed at the CMA Awards in 2015, it was nothing short of electric, and it's just good sense that they'd try to recapture that lightning in a liquor bottle. The result is the eclectic, and brilliantly layered up-tempo that finds Timberlake at a drum machine and on the guitar, explaining his inability to speak on certain subjects and emotions. “Say Something” with Timberlake’s and Stapleton’s voices blending like whiskey and coke, is a glimpse into the JT’s head with melodies and harmonies from disparate genres floating together to make some glorious hybrid. It’s country, it’s pop, it’s blues. It’s dope. Note: Vevo reports that the video was filmed as one continuous shot, and that is a feat worth saying A LOT about. Wow.
Oddly enough, I hope this is the direction Man Of The Woods is going instead of the muddled hip-pop of the previous songs.
The Timbaland and Danja-produced “Filthy,” the first released single, is a funkadelic, futuristic banger that makes use of Timberlake's natural twang and some Prince-esque stylings, even if lyrically it’s disappointingly sanitized. The video features a Timberlakean robot that will haunt your nightmares grinding with scantily clad dancers. Thematically, the song was so jarring from the aesthetics and sound foreshadowed in the trailer, it’s difficult to initially appreciate just its unrepentant swagger. That bassline alone is enough to get even the uptightest of booties shaking.
“Supplies” is even harder to love, even though it reunites the once dynamic producing duo of JT and The Neptunes. While there’s more personality and emotion here, the tinny-ness of Timberlake’s vocals, the annoying yet infectious chorus, and vocal percussion that sounds like a macaw with a sinus infection makes it hard to grasp the #RelationshipGoals romance of the message. “Some shit's 'bout to go down, I'll be the one with the level head / The world could end now / Baby, we'll be living in The Walking Dead / 'Cause I got supplie-ie-ies.” If there is such a thing as hillbilly trap music, this might be it.
With one single to go before Man Of The Woods is released and Timberlake makes his polarizing appearance at the Superbowl (my inside source says his set will be “fire”), this lifelong fan hopes that he can see the forest through three the trees.
What is your favorite single off Justin Timberlake's new album? How are you excited about his Superbowl appearance? Hit up the comments below.
Photo Credit: billboard.com