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Music News

Recording artist Justin Timberlake performs onstage during the Pepsi Super Bowl LII Halftime Show at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Justin Timberlake is one of the most legendary men in pop music. The Aquarian crooner was born on January 31, 1981, and boasts a fantastic music library. He isn’t called the “Prince of Pop” for nothing, Justin comes from a musical family. Growing up in Nashville, Tennessee, his grandfather introduced him to music from country music artists like Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. Performing as a child, Timberlake sang country and gospel music. At eleven years old, he appeared on the television show Star Search, performing country songs under the name “Justin Randall” (Randall is his middle name). With broadening exposure to different music genres, JT was listening to rhythm and blues musicians from the ’60s and ’70s, like Al Green, Stevie Wonder, and Marvin Gaye. He would also have listening sessions with his father of the Eagles and Bob Seger.

From Mickey Mouse to World Famous

In 1993, Justin landed the gig as a Mouseketeer on The All-New Mickey Mouse Club, along with future famous castmates Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, JC Chasez, Ryan Gosling, and Keri Russell. After Mickey Mouse Club, Timberlake recruited Chasez to be in an all-male singing group, put together by Chris Kirkpatrick and financed by boy band manager Lou Pearlman, which eventually became *NSYNC. The boy band formed in Orlando, Florida in 1995, and began their career in 1996 in Germany. Timberlake and Chasez were the group’s lead vocalists. Their self-titled debut album was successful in Europe and later debuted in the US with the single “I Want You Back.” The band released four albums, with over 70 million records worldwide, becoming the fifth-best selling boy band in history. They performed at the Winter Olympics and the Super Bowl XXXV halftime show.

The rise of JT’s own stardom and the general decline in popularity of boy bands led to *NSYNC’s hiatus in 2002. Moving onto his solo career, he partnered with Pharrell Williams. He released his debut studio album, Justified, that same year. He then
released his second studio album, FutureSex/LoveSounds four years later. By 2013, he released The 20/20 Experience, with a second part of the album releasing later the same year. His fifth album, Man of the Woods, released in 2018. Five years later, the singer-songwriter announced his sixth album, Everything I Thought It Was, would be released in March.

To commemorate the former *NSYNCer’s amazing career, we’ve compiled our favorite music videos of his career. See how your favorites ranked below:

  • I Want You Back

    *NSYNC’s debut single, “I Want You Back” (1996), shows the boy band dancing in front of futuristic backgrounds as they try to get the girl back using some kind of transporter. Though the effects are kind of cheesy, we love the y2k aesthetics of everything looking forward in technology and revolving around space travel and outfits. *NSYNC never held back when it came to their amazing choreography skills — I mean, check out those body rolls! The matching skin-tight zipper t-shirts with black cargo pants are somehow hot looking back at it now. In a 2018 interview with Billboard, Joey Fatone described the song as “edgy for pop” and was apprehensive about its reception.

  • Rock Your Body

    Justin Timberlake is wearing all white and joined by several backup dancers within a multi-color lighted cube in this stand-out track from his debut solo album, Justified. The song was originally intended to be featured on Michael Jackson’s tenth album, Invincible. MJ rejected the Neptunes’ (Pharell Williams and Chad Hugo) written song along with several other tracks, which were all instead given to Timberlake for his debut album. The uptempo, soul, and disco beat would have perfectly fit Jackson’s sound, but Timberlake put his own spin on it with his beatboxing. Though the song itself is one of our absolute favorites of all time, the music video isn’t too interesting.

  • Señorita

    Though “Señorita” is a great song from JT’s debut solo album, Justified (2002), Justin is dancing and grinding with different women in a desert, saloon-type bar. The plus is that Pharrell, who co-wrote the song, is featured in the video playing drums, along with a cameo from Owen Wilson and his then-girlfriend, Carolina Cerisola. Using some kind of sepia-toned filter to amp up the sexiness of the bar, he hits the stage immediately with his live band as he sultry sings into the microphone. There’s something about Justin’s buzz cut and baggy pants that makes his allure of dancing with the sweaty women a sexy video. “Señorita” was influenced by Stevie Wonder, with Timberlake saying that the R&B dance ballad had “that groove that really fits into the summer.”

  • Tearin' Up My Heart

    This photoshoot-themed music video is one of *NSYNC’s less elaborate conceptual videos, but the song still hits to this day. Clad in white tops and black pants, the boy band drops it low and executes perfectly timed spins in their choreography inside a warehouse. Though the music is upbeat, the lyrics are timeless, as they describe how painful it feels to be apart from someone you love and desperately want to know if they feel the same way. Chasez stated the lyrics represent “the double-edged sword of love.” The song was originally pitched for the Backstreet Boys to record, but was instead given to *NSYNC.

  • This I Promise You

    NSYNC wearing turtlenecks in Redwood National Park while different shots of love relationships are shown in bubbles floating around them in the forest make this music video so memorable. Footage of the San Francisco skyline appears at different times throughout the video. Toward the end of the song, the video pans to the members sitting at a table at an outdoor restaurant along the Embarcadero while eating and singing. During the video shoot, Timberlake and Fatone ended up exploring Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary without paying for tickets. Both members were eventually caught when they reached Al Capone’s cell and let off with a warning.

  • LoveStoned / I Think She Knows Interlude

    Justin’s visuals for “LoveStoned / I Think She Knows Interlude” were an interesting take using blue audio waves to create an image of himself. Despite being our favorite song of his of all time, the music video provides perfect visuals. We love how the song splits into two parts: the first being an upbeat dance song with those signature Timberlake beatboxing in “LoveStoned.” It contrasts with the second part, the interlude of “I Think She Knows,” which has a slower, quieter, acoustic guitar-driven sound. Losing the audio waves effect, Justin appears in a neutral room wearing a beige suit. and flashes of light drift behind him on the padded wall, symbolizing his state of mind is in a trance.

  • Suit & Tie

    This black-and-white 1920s throwback video was directed by Fight Club‘s David Fincher, and even though the song isn’t that great, Fincher’s touch on the music video is aesthetically pleasing. Showing off a more mature and sexy version of Timberlake, he has Jay-Z join him in the song. His isolated vocals for the moment before it swings into the jazzy R&B song. Switching between scenes of Timberlake performing on stage and then in a studio, the attention to detail on the instruments, and the fun choreography in front of stage lights make the video visually appealing.

  • SexyBack

    This provocative song had radio in a choke-hold in 2006 (no pun intended). The video was shot in Barcelona over four days, with Elena Anaya starring opposite Timberlake as a rival spy who becomes his love interest. Living his best Mr. & Mrs. Smith fantasy (which came out the year prior), you can tell Justin had a lot of fun in portraying Brad Pitt’s character. The song is probably his most iconic collaboration with Timbaland. Other than the spying sequences, bodies of women being sensual with each other flash in between scenes.

  • Cry Me A River

    Justin wrote this song about Britney Spears in 2002 following their highly-publicized breakup. In the song, the relationship goes bad because the girl cheated, and to get even, JT makes sure the girl finds out he’s moved on with his life. In the video, Justin uses a video camera to tape him getting hot and heavy with another girl. When his girlfriend (who is played by an actress who looks very much like Britney Spears) comes in, he sets it up so she will see the tape. Though his narration of what happened between him and Britney was shady, we love this music video because of the rain, the sepia tones, and how JT seems to defy gravity as he walks through the home.

  • Pop

    The sped-up visual effects in “Pop” add to the funkiness of this music video, as well as the spinning dance floor. As a kid, this was one of our favorite music videos by the group. There are so many amazing gems: the hilarious cheesy Pop commercial, the outfit changes as the group dances, and the comic book-style background as JT does a little beatboxing solo. While discussing the song in a 2001 interview with Billboard, Timberlake stated that the group “put everything that is not considered ‘pop music’ in [the] song” to prove to critics that they were a credible group. Two days before filming the music video, Fatone injured his leg while rehearsing for their PopOdyssey tour in New Orleans. His leg was trapped between a 300 pound platform underneath the stage, creating a hole in his leg as well as the bone being exposed. Fatone’s face was put on songwriter Wade Robson’s body, who substituted in his place due to the sustained injury.

  • What Goes Around...Comes Around

    Scarlett Johansson stars alongside JT in this 9-minute-long video, which feels like a mini-movie. Uninterested in Justin, Johansson hilariously calls him boring and then challenges him to entertain her at this swanky NYC party.  Again using sepia tones to add a more sultry, intimate vibe, Timberlake sings into a metal microphone. Johansson’s character is a dangerous one, pretending to drown in a pool after Justin attempts to save her and laughs about it and kisses him. He later gets into a fight with actor Shawn Hatosy, who starred alongside him in the 2006 crime/drama Alpha Dog after seeing him hooking up with Johansson.

  • Mirrors

    This eight-minute music video opens with a dedication to Timberlake’s late grandparents, Sadie Bomar and William Bomar, who were together for 62 years. “Mirrors” was also inspired by his relationship with Jessica Biel, who he was first romantically linked with in 2007. Despite a brief split in 2011, the couple tied the knot in 2012 and share two children together. The touching video shows an elderly couple throughout different stages of their lifetime as they “reflect” on their time together over the years. In his 2018 book Hindsight, Timberlake said he learned about “long-lasting love” from his grandparents and knows that’s what he has with Biel. “She changed me. She changed my life.”

  • Bye Bye Bye

    The iconic puppet string music video came out in 2000 and is arguably *NSYNC’s most iconic video. The video starts with evil puppet master Kim Smith (Friday Night Lights) manipulating the NSYNC members as they are tied to strings. As the lead single from their third studio album, perfectly named No Strings Attached, the boy band took that concept and brought it to life with this music video. During the speeding train sequence, Chris Kirkpatrick and Joey Fatone performed their own stunts as they jumped from one train carriage to another. The dance moves are also the most iconic. When the music pauses, JC cleans the disc and reinserts it before continuing. The song’s lyrics have a double meaning, describing the end of a romantic relationship and referring to the group’s separation from their manager, Lou Pearlman, and their record label, RCA Records.

  • It's Gonna Be Me

    The clever visual concept of “It’s Gonna Be Me” had the boy banders turn into dolls who come to life and break free from their display boxes and fight other toys in a toy store. Kim Smith makes an appearance again in their music video The story of why Timberlake sings “May” is due to the line being overpronounced and emphasized. As we previously reported, Swedish songwriter-producer Max Martin requested it to be recorded that way. JT said, “The parts of their English that were broken actually made them catchier songwriters because they would put words away they almost didn’t make sense, but when you sang them, they were more memorable.”

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