As expected, Justin Timberlake has dropped his new single and video, “Selfish,” continuing the rollout leading up to his first album in five years, “Everything I Thought It Was.”
“Selfish,” which was premiered at a special concert in Timberlake’s hometown of Memphis last week, was written by the singer, Louis Bell (Taylor Swift, Post Malone), Cirkut (Maroon 5, The Weeknd), Theron Thomas and Amy Allen and produced by Timberlake, Louis Bell and Cirkut. The video was directed by Bradley J. Calder (SZA, Tinashe).
The song is a midtempo, pulsating ballad with love-themed lyrics that could have come from much earlier in the 42-year-old singer’s career, “I want every bit of you, guess I’m selfish.” The video is self-deprecating, showing an unshaven, T-shirt-clad Timberlake growing increasingly frustrated as he rehearses for a video shoot in a cavernous studio. It gets surreal when he climbs into a bizarre, miniature, strangely long room with a red telephone at the end of it, which he finally reaches — and is then back in the studio, smashing the miniature set with his foot from the outside (possibly an oblique reference to the cover of his 2006 smash album “FutureSex/ LoveSounds,” which featured him smashing a disco ball with his foot). The clip closes with him performing the song in a stylish suit, complete with sleek dance moves.
The campaign continues in surprisingly traditional fashion for Timberlake with an appearance on “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon” tonight (Jan. 25) and “Saturday Night Live” this Saturday, and a special free concert at New York’s Irving Plaza next week — all of which he has done frequently in the past. The two NBC shows have long been platforms for the singer — he has a long-running bromance with Fallon in particular.
However, the singer has kept a low profile in recent years, particularly after the lukewarm response to his 2018 album “Man of the Woods.” In those years he has primarily returned for songs in the soundtracks to the “Trolls” films, including “The Other Side” with SZA, released in 2020 just before the pandemic, and late last year with ‘Better Place,’ which found him reuniting with NSYNC, the boy band that launched him to stardom in the 1990s. While that song seemed to suggest a full reunion might be in the offing — the group appears in the film in animated form — he seemed set on a full solo return instead.
His longtime musical collaborator TImbaland broke the news of the coming album to Variety last April, describing it as a return to the “fun Justin” of “FutureSex/ LoveSounds” after the much more serious “Man of the Woods.”
“It’s fun Justin,” he said. “It’s like ‘FutureSex /LoveSounds,’ but nothing too heavy, just giving you what you’d expect from us: not overthought, the lyrics are not so deep, it’s bob-your-head, dance-to-it music. Music is a young sport, and you have to keep it fun — fun and young. We’ve both seen a lot of life, but you can’t overthink it because of that, you have to bring out the 13-year-old, 18-year-old again, you know? If not, you can get into the old-fogey stage real quick. (Laughter) That’s just the world we live in.
“So you have to know how to be authentic and true to the art and understand it, and that’s what this album is,” he continued. “We took our time. We had songs that maybe were too complicated, but we said “We want it to feel like ‘FutureSex’ part two,” so we picked songs that will fit that.”