Well now. The rumor mill has gone from billowing steam to boiling over with uncorroborated information about new music from Justin Timberlake, with potential heavy ramifications in the country realm as Saving Country Music has been reporting on for some time. Now it appears that after the Christmas holiday and heading into the new year, we’ll start to get some answers about if some, any, or all of the new material from Justin Timberlake will be “country” in nature, and if it will involve one of Timberlake’s favorite collaborators, Chris Stapleton.
The first rumor is that a new Justin Timberlake song will be released on January 5th, and may be called “Fresh Leaves.” Timberlake trademarked that term, along with the term “Man of the Forest” in paperwork revealed on December 18th. “Man of the Forest” is the presumed title of the new album. An Assistant Music Director of Montreal radio station The Beat 92.5 let the info slide on Twitter about the new single.
But we may not have to wait until January 5th for more information. According to another widespread set of rumors, details of Justin Timberlake’s new album will be revealed in a Friday, December 29th feature in the recently-sold Rolling Stone, including confirmation that Chris Stapleton will collaborate with Timberlake on the new album. At the moment, no further details are available.
What we do know for certain is that the new Timberlake record is done according to a November 27th interview with producer Timbaland, also in Rolling Stone. “The music we just made?” Timbaland says. “It’s gonna put him on another plateau.”
Timbaland is also the man responsible for starting the rumors that the music will be country in nature.
“You mean, are we gonna go country?” Timbaland responded to the direct question in November 2015. “Well guess what, we are country. He’s from Tennessee, I’m from Virginia. It’s only right that we try to tap into … what we was raised in, you know? And I feel like I was raised, we was raised in the country. I mean, that’s who we are. I mean we love love songs. We heard our parents sing ’em. You know, the old country songs. But now it’s a new generation of country.”
But of course, that was over 2 years ago now, which is plenty of time for Timberlake to change his mind, forestall making a country move until the future, or decide to do something in between. Timberlake has said point blank in the past he wants to make a country record, telling Sirius XM in 2013, “I still got my eyes set on a Best Country Album. There is time for that.” The Memphis native also recently moved to the Nashville area.
Either way, we should finally have some answers in the waning moments of 2017, and the early part of 2018 of whether country music will have to ingest the reality of Justin Timberlake impacting the country format. Justin Timberlake is also set to perform at the Super Bowl on February 4th, 2018 where his new music (and Chris Stapleton?) will most certainly be featured.