Dec
20

Justin Timberlake Not Just “Blowing Smoke” About Country Move

December 20, 2013 - By Trigger  //  News  //  44 Comments

justin-timberlake-1Last month Justin Timberlake got the country music universe titillated when he said he may take a stab at country music in the future. “[I] grew up outside of Memphis, Tennessee. Listened to country music, R&B music, classic rock, you know, everything,” said Timberlake “I still got my eyes set on a Best Country Album. There is time for that.”

Well now Timberlake is doubling down, and delving even deeper into the country music conversation, and what he’s saying is hinting that his move would be a more “adult” approach to country, even more akin to the classic modes of country he grew up with, wanting to use his position in music to help guide country in a direction of more substance.

Justin Timberlake stars in the movie Inside Llewyn Davis opening today, and talked with The Tennessean about his potential, or very likely country music move.

“The next move for me is to sink some teeth in here [Nashville]. I’ve done it before. I got a taste of it,” says Timberlake, referring to the song “The Only Promise That Remains” that Timberlake wrote and produced for Reba McEntire last year. “…it reminded me of the songs that my grandfather used to make me listen to when I was a kid — in a great way. It hit me, ‘Oh I wrote this song because of my childhood.’ It ended up being this thing that country radio wouldn’t play.”

Timberlake’s comments then took an even more interesting turn, when he began to speak about Taylor Swift and how to navigate going from a “bubblegum” star to an artist entering adulthood. “There might be another calling for me out there. And it might be being a part of music in this way as a communicator and a teacher and a guide…I was in a group that was bigger than bubble gum. It’s almost like, with anything, when you do settle into adulthood is when when people respect you in a different way. But there’s no question in my mind that that’s where [Taylor Swift's] going, if she so chooses. For me I am sort of the oracle of the idea, and I’m also the communicator of it.”

Nashville seems synonymous with country music to Timberlake, and he would not want his work in the genre to be from the outside looking in.

“A good song is a good song is a good song. There’s still so much that can happen in Nashville, and I look to the future and I want to be a part of it. And I’m not just blowing smoke. I don’t say that about Los Angeles. I don’t think I would move to Nashville. I know I would move to Nashville. It’s a matter of time. And it’s what this place could offer me, to be that outlet for all these different styles.”

44 Comments to “Justin Timberlake Not Just “Blowing Smoke” About Country Move”

  • I watched his first time hosting SNL expecting to hate it. Instead I was blown away, immediately forming the opinion that he is probably the best SNL host ever.

    He doesn’t get a pass here, however. I don’t expect to like his country music offering. I don’t really like any of his existing music. But I will definitely give his take on country music a listen. We’ll see…

       4 likes

    • I’ve always said his true calling is improv/comedy. He is hilarious. My favorite SNL host by far

         0 likes

  • I specifically remember when one of his songs narrowly beat Johnny Cash’s “Hurt” in what I think was the MTV Music Video awards, his acceptance speech began with a similar mention of his exposure and appreciation to classic country music, and he seemed to acknowledge that Cash’s song was in fact the superior one despite the ending results of the award. I thought that was classy, he does seem to be a savvy and classy entertainer, so I’ll be interested in seeing what becomes of this.

       8 likes

  • I’m all for it if he’s writing and singing songs with meaning and substance. He’s on a completely different level than Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean. It could completely change the way the 18-30 year old female demographic views male country singers and raise expectations for the quality of music they put out. This could be a huge deal.

       20 likes

  • he forgot to mention how humble and down to earth he is

       9 likes

  • I just wanna see his wife in Daisy Dukes!!

       6 likes

  • I dont see what any additional harm it could add to Nashville, amongst the bubblegum crap it already churns out, from bro-country beer commercial country, to the Taylor Swift approach. If hes genuine in trying to reflect from the country music of his grandfathers let him. hes got enough talent,power and knowledge to maybe slap the current mainstream in its face..think about it.. if someone from the Genre of Timberlakes makes a country record that has the same impact on mainstream music as his influence has had in its own Genre, then to double down, what if he does make a album thats everything this sites movement is fighting for? ultimatly, if it fails its just another crappy “new country” record on the bin at walmart.., my questions are and it will be interesting to see,
    1.would the average critic/supporter of S.C.M honestly embrace it for what it is if it is genuine and brilliant country record?
    2.would he be accepted by the commercial industry in Nashville beyond the dollar signs they see in their eyes from this kind of talk from such a “megastar”

    Oh the lord works in mysterious ways friends..

       4 likes

    • I think Justin Timberlake in country would have many similarities to Garth Brooks coming back into country. Just think about this: in 2015 or some other appointed time in the future, two of the biggest males in country music could be Garth Brooks and Justin Timberlake. Talk about a complete paradigm shift from today.

      Just like Garth, Timberlake is not going to do anything unless it is going to be successful. People doubted Garth’s box set, wondering who really knew of him anymore, and if he was relevant. And lo and behold, he’s selling the hell out of them.

      The reason Luke Bryan, Jason Aldean, etc. etc. are so awful is because they have to pander to certain obvious elements of pop culture to be popular. But a person like Justin Timberlake, he can do whatever he wants, and the masses will pay attention. Luke Bryan and Jason Aldean would love to have this freedom, but they never established their credibility to begin with. Another artist that has the flexibility ironically is Taylor Swift.

      Would I or my readers embrace it? I don’t know, but ironically I have seen anecdotally more acceptance of Justin Timberlake going country than Garth’s comeback. I would hope my readers do what I will try to do, which is judge the music on its own merit.

         15 likes

      • Totally agreed, I wonder however if Garths comeback isnt motivated by anything beyond saving Garths country music? i guess time will tell. from the way J.T. frames his intentions in your article, it appears they seem about preserving the artform. I am for one,intrigued and will prolly read your review first and foremost lol. the fact he can do anything he wants, gives him an opportunity to focus on the artform, due to already having the masses behind him. the fact remains he is willing to alienate a shit ton of his fans, I have to admire the maturity and the courage to look past the industries compartmentalism and his attempt to branch out.
        Im hoping it will be good, reminds me of when Willy Nelson and Wynton Marsalis made “Two men with the blues” not that J.T. Is anything near either of those talents, i just hope it gets the same level of scrutiny in the reviews, and makes the end product as honest as the Nelson/Marsalis record was.

           2 likes

      • Since you mentioned Taylor Swift having flexibility, I’m going to make a somewhat controversial comment for the visitors of this site, but I hope y’all will hear me out:

        I’m interested in what Taylor comes up with when she gets into her thirties and forties. If she grows as a songwriter. If she eventually drops the melodramatic bullshit and just fucking writes a goddamn song. She is witty. She is clever. Now, can she stop pandering to the 12-20 demographic? Talk about a unopened bottle of potential.

        I don’t think she’ll ever get to the point that she’s consistently writing meaningful music, but I’m still going to start paying attention when she grows up. If it’s the same drivel, whatever.

           4 likes

        • “If she eventually drops the melodramatic bullshit and just fucking writes a goddamn song.”

          Exactly what do you consider “melodramatic”?

          Also, have you heard all of the songs from her albums, or are you judging based solely on radio singles?

             2 likes

          • The only album I heard in full was Fearless. I find her constant relationship shit to be really melodramatic and very immature. She has written some fairly good songs, for sure. I thought the collaboration with The Civil Wars was pretty damn good.

            The point is that she’s not meeting her potential. If Sarah Jarosz can write meaningful music at the same age, so can Taylor.

               1 likes

          • Taylor’s style has changed significantly since “Fearless”, but most of the positive change cannot be found in her radio singles. I highly recommend listening to the entirety of “Speak Now” and “Red”.

               1 likes

  • Do not know anything about him. However, if he waws raised in the south and exposed to genuine country music that tends to get in your DNA and he obviously has some musical chops so it will be interesting to see what evolves. Keeping an open mind. Goodness knows Memphis is fertile musical ground to be raised around.

       4 likes

  • For good or for bad he has a soapbox in the entertainment arena. I like some of his work. The sad thing there are so many true vintage country artists trying to make a mark in the genera, with little or no success. (Anyone heard of The Cactus Blossoms? They’re great! You’d swear you were in a Texas honky tonk back back in the ’50s.) Time will tell if he’s blowin’ smoke or not. I hope he’s not.

       0 likes

    • WOW! This is why I love this site. Always discovering awesome music I would have nvr known about.

      They are awesome!

         1 likes

      • They are a local favorite here in the Twin Cities. They had a standing gig for awhile at a great hole-in-the-wall dive bar, growing their fan base. They are unsigned and do self-promotion and production. When they channel the Everly Brothers I get goose-bumps. They bring me to my knees when they do “Kentucky.” Glad you like ‘em.

           0 likes

  • I really like Justin. I liked his song that he wrote for Reba, “The
    Only Promise That Remains” for her Duets album. For those wondering about his roots in country music observe this clip from his appearance on Star Search when he was 11 years old. Thankfully his voice is vastly improved.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PmF-BNtFqI

       1 likes

  • Can’t say I’m excited for this, but I’m not gonna disregard it instantly. Justin Timberlake is a very talented artist and producer. He really has moved on from his boy band days. I don’t know how much country cred I can really give him, because he is about as far away from that as you can get and I don’t think growing up in
    TN instantly gives you a pass to do country music.

    But with as successful as he already is in the pop world, I don’t see him switching to country just to make another pop album like some people. It seems like everyone thinks that country is where its at and if they can’t make it on pop or rock radio, they jump on the country bandwagon. He is a very classy person, and I think if he really does go to country, it might be a pleasant surprise. I don’t see him doing anything that could compare to FGL or Taylor Swift

       1 likes

  • Bring it, I say. I’m interested to see what he’s got. As bat-shit (redneck?) crazy as this year’s been, I kinda welcome his enthusiasm. Time will tell.

       5 likes

  • I didn’t notice at the American Music Awards that Justin Timberlake and Taylor Swift seemed to be very buddy-buddy with each other. Make of that what you will, I just thought it was interesting.

    Nothing he could do would be as bad as living through more Florida Georgia Line, Luke Brian or Jason “hey it’s cool to drink and drive” Aldean.

    Reba… she’d sink the ingredients off a box of cereal. She must have 70 released albums by now (I say that jokingly) Funniest thing I’ve seen was when Trisha Yearwood did an impersonation of Reba – totally awesome!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXrEU8iM15Q
    ^^ You rock Trisha!

       1 likes

    • I’m willing to go on record to say that I think Justin Timberlake and Taylor Swift have been collaborating. She has been talking in recent interviews about how she’s working with lots of great people on her new album, Justin has been hanging around Nashville a lot lately, and then here he speaks pretty long about her career and the path it might be taking. If a collaboration between the two doesn’t come out on her next album, I have a sense it will come out eventually. But seeing how Taylor and Big Machine do their best to keep everyone tight-lipped about what is coming, we may not know about it until the release or right before.

         1 likes

      • I assume this would be more of her pop stuff if this collaboration is real. I would imagine she will have hip/hop artists also featured on several songs on her next record as she tries to break away from the teenage material.

        On the other hand this would not be a particularly good sign for a JT country record in my opinion. I would strongly encourage him to think more Ray Charles ‘Modern Sounds’ and less Taylor Swift country style. It doesn’t have to be covers like ‘Modern Sounds’ but I would go all in on a real country sound. If he really is going to immerse himself in Nashville then he should seek out talented and unique artists to write with and come up with something original and classic sounding.

        This would be a vanity project anyway and won’t sell like ‘Futuresex’ or ’20/20′ anyway so why not do it right.

           0 likes

        • If Justin Timberlake can mimic the sonic style of Taylor Swift circa 2006, then I will be very happy.

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          • Can’t agree with that at all. That was music fit for a 16 year old girl with lyrics more fitting a 13 year old. For lack of a more sophisticated term it was a ‘girly’ country sound. Justin Timberlake will soon be 33 and if this record ever happens will be the work of a mid thirties man. The sound should be fuller and grittier with more soul to it.

               1 likes

          • I think I understand what you mean by “girly” country, but the idea that Taylor’s debut album uniformly features 13-year-old style lyrics is ridiculous. It is true that Taylor originally wrote some of the songs on that album when she was in her early teens. However, “Tim McGraw” is definitely not written in a “13-year-old” style. Neither are “Tied Together with a Smile” (even though she wrote it in her early teens) or “Cold as You”:

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=espSvzY_D8U

               4 likes

        • I don’t see Taylor Swift working with Justin Timberlake album on a Justin Timberlake album, unless it is in a very small role, like a duet or something. I think it’s more Timberlake working on Swift’s record as a co-writer or producer in more of a mentor role to help Swift make that transition from teenage star to adult star.

             4 likes

    • Taylor Swift and Justin Timberlake have long been friends. Take a look at this interview from 2008, for example:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rlOIDOmPZQI

      It’s entirely possible, even likely, that Taylor inspired JT to try out country music.

         1 likes

    • I genuinely think Taylor Swift, when wanting to, could be a remarkable country artist. The song Safe and Sound comes to mind (featuring the Civil Wars). That song is gorgeous, imo and is only a glimpse of what she could do if she really wanted to. Having Timberlake in the mix, I think she will steer towards that if they collaborate. JT doesn’t strike me as the person to produce Luke Bryan, Aldean,-esque music. I doubt he would let anyone working with him do that, either.

         6 likes

    • I’m not sure why everyone gets so riled up about the “drinking and driving” aspect of country music. People do it. It’s wrong, but it happens. Also, why would you want any limitations, whatsoever, when it comes to art. Let them write what they want to write. Granted, we know Aldean hasn’t written jack shit since his earliest albums, but still, why give songwriters limitations? The reason pop country artists or songwriters can put drivel into their lyrics is the exact same reason that Jason Isbell can blow your mind just by reading his lyrics.

      Without lyrical freedom, there would be no great lyrics.

         1 likes

  • I don’t doubt Timberlake’s roots so much as I have a hard time swallowing the idea of him doing an effective country record. The guy is talented, no doubt.. but with his track record and vocal style, I just don’t see the transition working. I would love to be pleasantly surprised by this, though.

       0 likes

  • I think Justin Timberlake is great. He’s very talented in all that he does and seems like a pretty charismatic guy. But can anyone imagine his voice on a country song?

       0 likes

  • If the kid goes the folkier route for Country he could pull it off. I’ve heard him on the soundtrack for the new Coen Brothers film, Inside Llewyn Davies, and it could well work out for him.

       0 likes

  • I know Adele and Miguel (rnb singer) have hinted at experimenting more with country music in the future. Im actually more excited about what they would come up with than Timberlake. Im still not sold on timberlakes voice

       1 likes

  • That song he did with Reba is actually really good. It reminds me of something that Alison Krauss would do.

       0 likes

  • Remember when Justin brought ‘sexy back’? I didn’t really know that it was lost, but apparently he can be and do all things at the same time.

       2 likes

  • I kept quiet when the original Timberlake blog post came out, but I have to post after this one. I’m just not seeing the fascination with Justin Timberlake, and the almost cult-like praise. Is there something I’m missing? I have no problems with the guy, don’t get me wrong, but in my opinion he’s just a mediorce all-around pop entertainer. A decent singer, a lukewarm actor, and maybe good for a few laughs on SNL. Exactly what songs, acting credits, or comedic stylings are we talking about that not only warrant such high praise, but make him someone that can somehow help the dismal state of country music? Is it his start and foundation as a Disney Mickey Mouse club member? His despicably shallow career in boy-band n’Sync? His starring role in box office blockbuster “Friends with Benefits” with Mila Kunis? His solo career churning out vapid pop hits with Jay-Z? Or perhaps his most well-known comedic performance: “Dick in a Box”, a song about wrapping your schlong up as a present. And we’re comparing him to… Sinatra?? I had to check the date on the original post to make sure it wasn’t April 1st. I have to say, if the situation is so dire and desperate that we’re looking at someone who has all of the credentials I mention above as someone who can help get country moving back in the right direction, there is no “saving country music”. It’s dead.

       1 likes

    • Pete,

      I can’t speak for everyone, but I personally am not showering him with praise, nor do I consider myself a fan of Timberlake. Since popular music is so bad these days, even mediocrity can look stellar. I’m personally intrigued on how all of this is going to transpire, and what effects it could have on country music. It could be terrible, or it could be amazing. But we won’t know until we hear it.

         1 likes

      • Trig, agreed. My comments were more in response to the multitude of comments on both posts in favor of this idea. (I don’t get in the habit of singling out commenters, so I kept it generic.) Given your audience, I was surprised at the support but perhaps that’s just the state country music has descended to, and not a reflection on all of us who are hoping for a positive change. Ultimately my point is this: I discovered Eric Strickland and the B Sides through your blog — they’re amazing, and I would like to think that everyone would be pulling for folks like Eric and his band to be the ones to turn the tide, rather than someone like Timberlake. Like you, I’ll admit I will certainly give Timberlake a listen, if not for any other reason than curiosity.

           0 likes

  • I thought that I was the only who didn’t get it.

    All I can think about is a mouseketeer and sometimes, Alvin and the Chipmunks.

       1 likes

  • I will give Justin the benefit of a listen to whatever he comes up with before judging this.

    He’s incredibly talented (the only true star from an era of multiple boy bands, the rest of his band and the others either disappeared entirely or are taking anything they get to stay somewhat relevant, while he picks his own projects), and everything from boy band pop, hip-hop, rock, adult pop, and even his two little tip-toes into country so far, he’s done well at.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be among the crowd pointing and laughing loudly if he screws it up, but if that happens, it’ll be poor decision making on his part, not a lack of talent.

       0 likes

  • While I appreciate the open-mindedness, I must ask: how sad is it when we must look to Justin Freakin’ Timberlake to bring some integrity back to Nashville Music?

       4 likes

  • Ha! Ha! I don’t think for a minute anybody is doing that, my friend.

       1 likes

  • Why the hell not? They let Brantley Gilbert and FGL in.

       0 likes

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