Justin Timberlake’s New Record is Done. But Is It “Country”?
There was a time in 2015 when it wasn’t a question of “if,” but “when” Justin Timberlake would release a country or country-influenced record, and this information was all but confirmed by none other than Timberlake’s long-time producer Timbaland. Now after a recent interview with Timbaland, we have a little bit clearer picture of why there may have been a delay in Timberlake’s latest project, whether it’s country or not. And that regardless of the genre, new music from Justin Timberlake is on the way, and soon, which could be part of a greater wave of pop music invading country in 2018, which also includes Taylor Swift’s song “New Year’s Day,” and Bebe Rexha’s “Meant To Be.”
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Just to reset, back in November of 2015 it was pretty much spelled out that Timberlake’s next move would be towards country. This was right after Justin made a landmark appearance on the CMA Awards with Chris Stapleton, and performed his song “Drink You Away” along with Stapleton’s version of “Tennessee Whiskey” on the awards.
In an interview, producer Timbaland said in no uncertain terms that Justin Timberlake was going country.
“You mean, are we gonna go country?” Timbaland responded to the direct question. “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.”
“So are you saying that you are actually recording?” Timbaland was pressed again.
“I gotta break country. I gotta tap into country,” Timbaland responded. “I’m already posted up in Nashville. I’ve got a little spot in Nashville, so. That’s something I want to do ’cause I am music. So I can’t, I don’t discriminate no genres. I just like I learn it, I study it, and I love it.”
“So you and Justin are doing a country album?” Timbaland’s asked for a third time.
“You know what? Now that you put it out there? Why not?” Timbaland responded.
This was on top of the fact that Justin Timberlake said to Sirius XM in 2013, “I still got my eyes set on a Best Country Album. There is time for that.” Also in 2013, Timberlake told The Tennessean, “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.”
Timberlake put his money where his mouth was when paid $4 million for a 126-acre parcel in philanthropist Aubry Preston’s Lieper’s Fork community preserve just south and east of Nashville in Williamson County in June of 2015. Then it was revealed that Timberlake had been booking time in Nashville studios right after the 2015 CMA Awards.
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Justin Timberlake will make a country record. The only question is when, and what the relative country-ness of that record will be. And he may already have made one.
Based on a November 27th interview with producer Timbaland, we now know now that the next Justin Timberlake record is in the can. “The music we just made?” Timbaland says. “It’s gonna put him on another plateau.”
Timbaland also goes into great detail in the interview about his recent addiction to Oxycontin, which could have put a dent in his production plans with Timberlake and make sense why there was a two year lag between all the information about Justin Timberlake’s upcoming country record, and then no further information since.
Or did Justin get cold feet about going in a country direction? After Timberlake’s landmark performance with Chris Stapleton on the CMA Awards, Justin released the song “Drink You Away” to country radio. However with little to no promotion behind it, it shortly bombed. There’s also a possibility that the new Timberlake album could be a pop record with some country songs, or that Timberlake decided to delay his inevitable country album for a later project.
Also worth factoring in, Justin Timberlake released a massive song “Can’t Stop The Feeling” as part of the Trolls movie soundtrack in 2016 that became a 4x platinum smash, probably elongating the window when Timberlake would be willing to release new music on his own, especially if it was country.
But now the window is tightening for Timberlake. Justin is due to perform the Super Bowl halftime show on February 4th. This would be the ideal platform to dovetail either the revelation of new music, or the performance of a new single in front of the biggest audience that exists on the planet.
We know Justin Timberlake’s new record is done. We know it’s going to be massive. We know the Super Bowl will somehow be involved. The only question left is, will it be country, and what will this do for the genre already dealing with an influx of pop music in 2018?
December 8, 2017 @ 9:41 am
If he releases an honest-to-goodness country record, it would be a game changer. I’m not talking a Steven Tyler gone country type of record. He’s too smart and too talented to just pander, in my opinion. Count me as being excited for a country project from JT.
December 8, 2017 @ 10:37 am
Exactly. You see his passion for music, especially country in the Stapleton performance and I’ve been a fan of his regardless of what kind of music he has put out. Even if it is just a “country influenced” pop record it will probably be better than 99% of country radio today, because unlike most of the people Nashville is forcing on us he’s actually got talent.
December 8, 2017 @ 10:38 am
And I know that won’t be a popular take for most of the readers here but I am legitimately interested and excited to see what he can do.
December 8, 2017 @ 10:55 am
I wouldn’t call Stapleton’s version of Tennessee Whiskey or the duet with Timberlake necessarily “country”…..certainly not in any way that showed Timberlake’s interest in country. Stapleton’s version of Tenessee Whiskey is Dean Dillon lyrics inserted into Etta James’ song “I’d Rather Go Blind”. Interesting combination for sure, but I don’t think what Stapleton and Timberlake did points to any interest in country. Having said that, it will be interesting to see what Timberlake comes out with!
December 8, 2017 @ 11:57 am
I think his best route is to follow Stapleton in the soul/blues/country combo. If he does that I’m sure it’ll be good.
December 8, 2017 @ 11:35 am
Personally I’m interested to see what he comes up with. I’m sure it’s not going to satisfy most of the readers here in that it being a stone cold traditional country album. That’s not him and would be silly to expect that. If he wants to go the Stapleton route and be more blues influenced, that would satisfy me. Stapleton could be considered more blues than country but wasn’t country based on the blues in the first place?
December 8, 2017 @ 11:40 am
I wouldn’t say based. That’s too strong. Blues was an influence though just like folk music and/or European sub-types of music styles.
December 8, 2017 @ 11:47 am
I can’t see, what with the Super Bowl gig, that his new album would be country. Maybe a few songs that lean that way. But I agree with the other posts that his musical talent and sensibility far exceeds that of pop country stars. But I don’t see him at any time putting out a pure traditional country album. Maybe something along the line of Pardi’s “Heartache on the Dance Floor.”
December 8, 2017 @ 11:54 am
“Well guess what, we are country. He’s from Tennessee. I’m from Virginia.” WHAT??!! So that makes you f’in country? What a joke! Well I’m from Pennsylvania so I guess that makes me Amish. I don’t care if Timberlake can pick like Chet Atkins he doesn’t belong in country music and that’s a FACT. We had Taylor Swift go pop now Justin Timberlake is going country? We might as well get Swift back! You can only imagine what his “country” music will sound like by the ridiculous Tennessee Virginia comment. And picture this “Album of the Year goes to…” and you know it will. It’s not about the love of country music for Justin… it’s about the fame. It’s about tapping into as many genres as he possibly can… and country music is where he’ll succeed.
December 8, 2017 @ 12:02 pm
Whatever you think about the whole “going country” idea it’s hard to deny JT isn’t talented. He’s not the first to start making country influenced music and he won’t be the last. Yes it’s a good decision monetarily but he’s talented so I’m interested to see what it turns out to be.
December 8, 2017 @ 8:59 pm
You are attributing Timbaland’s comments to Timberlake. If you are going to criticize, at least read the article and state the facts accurately. I am not saying you are right or wrong, just saying you are misquoting.
December 9, 2017 @ 9:12 am
Marky Mark I did read the article all the way through. I was commenting on both Timbaland and Timberlake. Should I have specified who I was talking about? Yes. However it don’t make much difference because Timbaland is producing Justin’s music… therefore, Justin probably has the same outlook on it. It leaves one to wonder how much Timbaland knows about country music to make such a statement. We’ll just have to wait and see.
December 8, 2017 @ 12:11 pm
JT’s talent is unquestionable. That gospel performance of “Drink You Away” with Stapleton was electric.
I’d expect him to do more “multi-genre” stuff of that kind on whatever “country” album he comes out with. It’ll be great, but it won’t be traditional.
I’m of the mind that music is really a braided stream. But if you braid it too much, all the streams in it get weaker, and there’s no sense of current.
December 8, 2017 @ 12:33 pm
“We’re from the South so that makes us country.” THAT right there is the mentality that has been killing country music over the past decade.
December 8, 2017 @ 12:50 pm
It probably is country given the shite that passes for country these days.
What ever genre it really is …. it’s also country.
December 8, 2017 @ 1:51 pm
Based on his talent, I’d be interested to see what he comes up with.
Based on his last couple albums (shitty, uninspiring dance club garbage), I’d prefer he stick to acting and Super Bowls.
December 9, 2017 @ 10:21 am
Based on In Time, Trouble With The Curve, and Runner Runner, I’d prefer he stick to counting his money.
December 8, 2017 @ 4:34 pm
unless he’s covered a few haggard tunes ….maybe something by gene watson , chesnutt or a.j. ,recorded something by don schlitz….i really don’t give a damn . and i think we all know what the chances of THAT are
December 8, 2017 @ 5:20 pm
Stay in your lane.
December 8, 2017 @ 9:36 pm
He’ll keep making music, you’ll keep making dumbass, overused cliche statements that offer no insight whatsoever on internet message boards.
Seems like everyone is in their lanes.
December 8, 2017 @ 5:44 pm
Tonight i’m In the mood to listen to some Calvin Russell, Billy Joe Shaver, some Kelly Willis, then spin some Black Lillie’s and John Moreland. After that, I know i’ll be primed to go deep with some cry in my beer music from Justin Timberlake.
December 8, 2017 @ 7:30 pm
If you are going to listen to Moreland, you will be crying in your beer well before you get to Timberlake.
December 9, 2017 @ 7:11 am
After a few beers, some of Moreland’s songs can reduce me to a puddle on the floor. Anyone seriously think Timberlake can accomplish that? Yeah, thought not.
December 10, 2017 @ 10:28 pm
Exactly my point 😊
December 8, 2017 @ 6:15 pm
Maybe they can all chart in a new category named country that ain’t
Public Cervix Announcement
December 8, 2017 @ 8:55 pm
waiting if the next Timberlake release is ‘country’ or not is sad.. just plain fukkin sad
December 9, 2017 @ 6:06 am
Cheer up, this isn’t sad. After 65 years on this planet, i’ve seen sad. This ain’t it. This is just laughable.
December 8, 2017 @ 9:16 pm
I’ll cross my fingers and hopefully be pleasantly surprised. They’re talking about tapping into country…if that is really their intention I better hear some steel and fiddle.
December 8, 2017 @ 10:05 pm
Pharrel who is from the south (Virginia being south last time I checked) and an insanely talented producer, is ripped relentlessly for wanting to work with country acts (and country acts are ripped for wanting to work with him). But country salivates over the mere possibility that JT might make something “country”
I like Timberlake, he is talented. I suspect that he will have one or a few country/Americanna style songs on his next album, much like Beyonce (from Texas!), Miley (Nashville) and Gaga. All of whom are also talented.
December 8, 2017 @ 10:34 pm
I’ve always liked Timberlake, so im pretty excited to see what he puts out. Timbaland is a great producer and musician, but I question how much he knows about country music, so this will likely be pop country or straight pop being released to country radio.
December 9, 2017 @ 6:36 am
(Un-)popular opinion: i really don’t care what kind of music JT will release. Country or death-metal.
Before Gaga or Beyonce or Timberlake or god-knows-who releases a “country” album COUNTRY artists should release COUNTRY music first. Or switch to pop & make place for COUNTRY artists who want to make COUNTRY music.
December 9, 2017 @ 7:21 am
With apologies to Johnny Lee, I feel many people are looking for Country Music in all the wrong places.
December 9, 2017 @ 7:25 am
I can see this album being similar to Chris Cornell’s Timbaland produced album, Scream. Cornell wanted to stray away from his rock music and make an R&B album. Im a huge Soundgarden fan, and I loved it, while most people hated it. Rock fans and R&B fans all hated it. Most country fans and most pop fans will probably hate whatever this Timberlake album sounds like just because he decided to try something new, even if it’s spectacular music, no matter what style or genre.
December 9, 2017 @ 7:52 am
What state can you be from that ISN’T country? Jersey, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Delaware? Or is it just a matter of being from south of the mason dixon line, ie is Orlando Florida more country than Flint Michigan? Or does your proximity to a city determine your countryness, nashville notwithstanding? Does being from Mashville qualify for instant counrty cred given its newly found gentrification and lack of “country” folk?
Ah fuck it, someone turn on some Tom T. “Country is….”
December 9, 2017 @ 8:56 am
Talented artist….sings, dances, acts and does it all well and doesn’t take himself too seriously. I think he respects country music as a genre and if he chooses to put out a country album it will be done with the right intentions. Now whether or not he can carry it out successfully…well time will tell. But looking forward to hearing it.
December 9, 2017 @ 11:59 pm
I’d be on board if
1. He makes a real deal country read whatever that means
2. He doesn’t have a damn prop guitar just because every slinger since the 50s had one
3. And most importantly for me if he hadn’t thrown Janet Jackson under a bus, that is a deal breaker for me. Not because I love Janet to death but because it his principles and how he just used her as a step-ladder for his own career.
He has done other work that makes me feel like something is off (kinda that same way I feel about Jimmy Fallon who coincidentally did that whole history of hip-hop with him)
December 10, 2017 @ 3:18 am
it’s gonna sound the same as that Inside Llewyn Davis turd