Thursday, June 20, 2024

Justin Timberlake Release “Man of the Woods” Shoots to Number 1 on Eve of Super Bowl Performance


Justin Timberlake is number 1. And that’s just on the iTunes album chart. He’s also got six tracks on the singles charts this morning including his 2016 hit “Can’t Stop the Feeling.”

The album is “Man of the Woods” and the singles all come from it. Frankly, there could be more singles from the album hitting the chart today. Timberlake had already released three of them and “Say Something” with Chris Stapleton is number 1. A very Sly Stone-influenced “Morning Light” featuring Alicia Keys is also up there.

There are some other lovely tracks on this very 70s influenced R&B funk album that is mostly written and produced with Pharrell Williams and his Neptunes. “Higher Higher” is a a mini-masterwork. “Breeze on the Pond” floats like one.  “Wave” sets a billowing, joyous tone.

Justin, Pharrell and their pal Timbaland are still heavily influenced by Michael Jackson, Earth Wind & Fire, and groups like Tower of Power and the Ohio Players. But they’re not sampling, they’re making their own sounds, and some of Pharrell’s work with Timberlake on this album rises to the level of Quincy Jones’s work on “Thriller” and “Bad.” These younger guys have hit the groove, it all feels spontaneous.

Not everything about “Man of the Woods” is perfect. I don’t get the title or the art or the original marketing. This is not an album of the woods, it’s of the city even if Memphis or Nashville is the city. Adding Chris Stapleton was just the right move, but remember Stapleton (though a friend calls him “Grizzly Adams”) has put his own funk into country.

Timberlake comes from Memphis, and the sound there is undeniable. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t make a record with Boo Mitchell at Royal Studios one day. Once you’ve been to that town, you’re done. Funny that Elvis, whose Graceland is so associated there, is not the real sound. Elvis borrowed the sound for his records. Timberlake and Pharrell have done the same thing. Unlike Justin Bieber’s last fake R&B record, “Man of the Woods” is the real deal.

Something else I’d like to see– a Timberlake/Pharrell/Childish Gambino mix up. But that would be asking for too much.

Just remember, as Justin says: “Success is cool, money is fine, but you’re special.”

Let’s get this on the radio ASAP:


Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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