Justin Timberlake (Photo: Scott Halleran)Those who have all but forgotten about Justin Timberlake as a musical powerhouse—hey, don’t laugh, his last album was in 2006, and that’s an eternity in today’s instantaneous media world—were startled on Wednesday night when the singer-cum-actor/businessman posted a cryptic tweet, promising a big announcement the following morning.
Within an hour, Timberlake was a top trend on Twitter. Thursday morning, Timberlake directed fans to a YouTube clip in which he indirectly announces his intent to create new music.
For those not paying attention--and that's pretty much all of us--this seemed to come out of nowhere. Why now, after so long? (As various outlets have pointed out, George W. Bush was president and iPhones didn't exist when we last heard new music from Timberlake.)
Theories have bounced around in the short period between his tweet and reveal; including half-humorous, half-serious musings whether he’s just gotten sick of his other pursuits, which include an avid golf hobby. There’s even the idea that his new wife Jessica Biel may have goaded him into it, although that’s unlikely.
Timberlake himself explains his decision to step away and return from the recording studio in typical superstar’s navelgazing fashion, saying that music “means more to me than anyone else in the world” and that he is “obsessive about it,” which is why, basically, he’s only released two solo albums over a decade.
He doesn’t know if he could “physically torture myself that much year in and year out, and expect [music] to fulfill me in the way it does.”
He doesn’t want to put out something…(pained pause)…”That I don’t love.”
OK, OK, fair enough. We get it, although we’re not quite sure such a dramatic explanation was necessary. Judging from the massive—and massively positive--response his tweet received, what is likely the unvarnished truth probably would have sufficed: He’s found material that both he and longtime collaborator Timbaland (who is rumored to be attached to the project) like and feel inspired to record. Indeed, although this announcement feels abrupt, chatter has it that Timberlake has been working on the new material for some time in complete secrecy.
However, and we hate to say it, the reasoning behind his decision may be even more simple than that. Like any multifaceted artist, he is seeking to leverage his talent in a way that best serves his interests--which in this point in time may possibly just be the relaunch of former social media powerhouse MySpace, of which he is a key principal. Timberlake was part of the group that purchased the service in 2011, and has served as spokesperson for its major redesign announced in Fall of 2012.
So, all that said, it’s nice that Timberlake is hyped to bring sexy back—or something back, anyway. We’ll all find out in three days exactly what he has in mind, according the countdown clock on his official site.