On Thursday, Justin Timberlake, who sucks, showed the world he’s a little bit country with a new track, “Say Something,” from his upcoming solo LP, Man of the Woods. The song is a collaboration with Nashville singer Chris Stapleton, who is a lot bit country. It’s interesting because a lot of folks assumed Timberlake was gonna go full-on Southern with his new album, judging by its title and Americana-inspired aesthetics, but this song is the only proof we have of that actually happening. The dude is so historically pop, I gotta ask: Do Justin Timberlake fans even know who Chris Stapleton is?
Let’s run through some basic facts about Timberlake’s close and personal friend Chris Stapleton (They performed a duet at the 2015's Country Music Awards, that’s gotta stand for lifelong friendship.) The 39 year-old, Kentucky-born singer is three years Timberlake’s senior, and is easily recognizable for his facial hair. He’s got a great beard. And he’s super talented! Two years ago, Stapleton was nominated for Album of the Year at the 2016 Grammys. He didn’t take it home, but he did win for Best Country Album and Best Solo Country Performance. So, if you enjoy country music and giant award shows, then you probably know who this dude is.
But do Justin Timberlake fans? Can they recognize Chris Stapleton from any other well-groomed country star? Again, Timberlake’s musical style is firmly within the world of pop; he never strayed too far from that particular lane. Country is not a regular move for him! Perhaps he’s bridging two worlds together here. But if Justin Timberlake fans are anything like Justin Timberlake, it’s an appropriative relationship, and they sure as hell don’t know Chris. Too bad for them.