Justin Timberlake is a lot of things: pop sensation, former boy-bander, male ally, Woody Allen movie star, member of the Saturday Night Live Five-Timers Club (they should really come up with a better name for that). Quite a few contradictions going on there, but usually it’s been clear where one Timberlake ends and the next begins. Given the way his rollout for new album Man of the Woods has gone so far, I don’t think it’s been so clear-cut, and with his latest video teaser, I’m starting to think it ain’t no joke.
On Monday, he released a new trailer for his upcoming Man of the Woods tour that makes me think he’s dead-serious, accomplished through a series of contemplative stares, dance rehearsals, and, yes, exercise bands. He seems pretty earnest about dissolving the lines between process and results. “I want people to see the inspiration for how it ended up sounding. I’ve never seen that before, bring the outside in,” he says at one point. Check it out:
When Timberlake announced his fifth LP last week, it came accompanied with another goofy-ass trailer about returning to his “roots,” wearing warm clothing, and striking meditative poses in the woods. I hoped it was a bit, some elaborate joke that hopefully doesn’t prove to be racist. The guy was in Popstar for god’s sake, a movie that literally mocked absurd, corporate-sponsored album rollouts. That, combined with his SNL performances and his involvement with the comedic troupe Lonely Island, made me think he might be in on some gag. He...is not.
His recent sexy-Steve Jobs video for “Filthy” bolstered this case, too, because it was actually kind of funny. The song’s not great by any stretch—melodies, hooks, they’re all hard to come by here—but Timberlake getting back with Timbaland for a loud club banger was a different kind of roots for JT. Who knows, maybe he hiked in the mountains before bringing Sexyback.
All said, we can’t really draw any conclusions until we’ve heard the dang thing in its entirety on February 2. Timberlake probably really means it, but it’d be kind of impressive if he didn’t.