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?