2018 could be an auspicious year for the long-suffering *NSYNC fandom. Funmbi discusses JT’s solo career, his new single “Filthy”, and what she’d like to see in next month’s Super Bowl Halftime performance.
Full disclosure: I’ve loved Justin Timberlake for over 20 years of my life. It first began as a childhood affection when my 8 – 10 year old self fanned out over Disney Channel’s super entertaining Mickey Mouse Club, MMC reboot. However, it kicked into major passion, devotion, infatuation when Justin joined *NSYNC. Those who knew me as a teenager know exactly what *NSYNC meant to me and how big a part of my life they were, as my very first major fandom experience. Interestingly, 2018 (July 18) marks my 20th anniversary as an *NSYNC fan, so my flaily homage to *NSYNC will be forthcoming.
Many would say that the writing on the wall for *NSYNC’s hiatus (they’ve never officially broken up, mark me!) was evident with “Gone” from their last studio album Celebrity. In this song and music video, Justin carried every verse, while JC, Lance, Chris, and Joey remained in the background. The critical moment where I realized there was a shift was when, for the “Girlfriend” Neptunes Remix, only Justin joined Nelly to record the new parts of the music video. *SIGH*
In any event, I’ve been highly ambivalent about Justin’s post-*NSYNC solo career. Yes, my love remains as fervent as ever, and it’s out of this love that I offer my critiques. For me, Justin’s solo albums have been hit or miss: Justified was a soulful homage to the R&B, funk, and soul mixes that would characterize much of Justin’s solo career. And even though I didn’t like “SexyBack” at all when it was first released, FutureSex/LoveSounds is my favorite of Justin’s solo stuff. This is mostly due to the EPICNESS that is “Let Me Talk to You/My Love”. I could listen to that entire 6-minute medley on repeat for days at a time, it’s SO GOOD. To me, this is the best song Justin has ever done, including the *NSYNC years. So you know I’m being very serious. Just listen again and tell me I’m wrong. I don’t think you can!
The 20/20 Experience was a mixed bag for me. I *really* enjoyed Part 1. Every single song had so much range, combining the sweeping sound of 1940s big band with the funkiest dance beats. With Part 2, I don’t know that I can point to a single song that I like (yes, even “TKO” and “Take Back the Night” were *meh* for me).
And this is where I find myself in 2018–so much love for Justin and our history, cautious optimism, and hella desperate for something from *NSYNC. This is why when we heard rumors that Justin would be headlining the halftime show for the 52nd Super Bowl (subsequently confirmed), I’ve been uncertain. WSN guest contributor Kira, AKA SmallScreenGirl, wrote an open letter that embodies my concerns (Justin’s desire to remain apolitical is very difficult to maintain in a current context where football is highly political; lingering resentment about how Janet Jackson was done wrong during the fallout from the Super Bowl 38 halftime performance.) For me, in this year’s show, I’m looking for Justin to (1) bring back Janet Jackson for a do-over; and (2) BRING BACK *NSYNC. He did it for his MTV VMA Video Vanguard Award performance in 2013, he can do it again now.
It shouldn’t surprise us that Justin is using this platform to launch a new album, Man of the Woods. In his own words, this is meant to be a return to his Tennessee roots, perhaps more folksy and country than his previous work.
Then last night/early this morning Justin dropped the first single “Filthy” and it’s definitely not folk. The song was produced by Timbaland and Danja (the same team responsible for “SexyBack”) and features an electric, dance-funk beat. This is coupled with a music video (directed by Mark Romanek) in which Justin channels Steve Jobs to present new technology at a 2028 conference in Kuala Lumpur. The featured android gives a dance performance on stage (paralleling Justin’s moves off-stage), which rapidly devolves to a futuristic orgy. WELPS.
Like with “SexyBack”, the first time I heard “Filthy” was in conjunction with a music video that I found to be bizarre. But also like with “SexyBack”, “Filthy”, THE SONG, is growing on me. The sound is funky as hell; the beat makes me want to dirty-dance and do exactly what the lyrics request and put my filthy hands all over somebody, preferably Justin. Kidding! 😉 So, if you’re on the fence about “Filthy”, put the video on, walk away from your computer, and listen again. (Or, just download the song from iTunes.) See what you think then.
According to Rolling Stone, starting January 18, Justin plans to release three other videos each week leading up to the release of Man of the Woods (February 2). And then on February 4, Justin headlines the Super Bowl Halftime Show!
The more I think about it, the more I realize that this might be a very auspicious beginning to 2018, as the 20th anniversary of *NSYNC’s debut in the American market. Hopefully, a new solo album from Justin sets up the potential for *NSYNC to reunite. A girl can dream…
Regardless, I’m really looking forward to Man of the Woods and seeing what else Justin has up his sleeve for us. This morning, Justin also shared the full tracklisting, which includes 16 songs total:
— Justin Timberlake (@jtimberlake) January 5, 2018
What did you think of “Filthy”? Do you have any speculation about Justin’s Super Bowl halftime performance? Share your thoughts in comments!