Latest Timberlake release is different, yet still uniquely JT

Justin Timberlake released his latest album, Man of the Woods, on Feb. 2. Timberlake usually waits for an extended period of time between albums (with his last album in 2013) and with the release of each album comes a certain amount of excitement. So what is different about this album?

Not all of his fans enjoyed it.

Timberlake released three singles from the album, “Say Something,” “Supplies” and “Filthy,” however only one, “Say Something,” which features prominent country artist Chris Stapleton, is in the top 50 of the ‘Billboard Hot 100.’ “Filthy” comes in at 51, and “Supplies” fails to even crack the list. The album also has yet to crack the list of 100 current top-selling albums, according to Billboard.

“Justin Timberlake has kind of been this iconic performer, and he’s done all these great songs in the past, and he hasn’t really changed that, but now I feel like he kind of tried to change to what the people wanted to hear and give the album a more hip-hop sound and I feel like that wasn’t him,” said sophomore communication studies major Johnny Sunshine. “He also did a lot of songs featuring people like Alicia Keys and Chris Stapleton, which was cool, but I just thought he tried to change it too much, so I wasn’t a huge fan.”

While this album stands apart from others in his collection, Timberlake is not necessarily stepping out of his comfort zone here. Timberlake is originally from Memphis, Tennessee, an area in which country music is prevalent. He has also appeared in country music settings before, most notably at the Country Music Awards where he performed with Chris Stapleton.

Michael Medina, a sophomore music performance major, detailed what he heard in the album.

“Overall, I enjoyed the album a lot. One of the biggest things that you notice about the album is that it has an electronic music influence, but that’s the norm nowadays,” Medina said. “In terms of genres, I hear a lot of jazz, R&B, soul, country, even gospel and ska music, which is pretty cool. But underneath all of that, it feels like the classic Justin Timberlake formula in terms of songwriting and the way he delivers his vocals.”

Medina also noted some artists that he thinks might have influenced Timberlake’s latest endeavor, with a list ranging from Pharrell Williams and Snoop Dogg to Nine Inch Nails, Ed Sheeran and Travis Scott.

Sophomore psychology major McKayla Kay heard many of the same things.

“I think this album is super unique because it has different acoustic sounding songs and then country and soul with Alicia Keys, so it’s super different and I kind of like it; and then he has his normal pop songs too,” Kay said. “I think it’s a really cool album.”

Michael Medina notes that while there are some changes to Timberlake’s sound, these changes are not necessarily a bad thing.

“It sounds different because he’s tugging at your heart right here. He knows that, on the radio, what is dominating right now is Travis Scott, Bruno Mars and Ed Sheeran,” Medina says. “Not only that, he’s not even stealing anything from them but he’s influenced by them. There’s a lot of instruments that you didn’t hear on his last album, there’s a lot of sounds that you wouldn’t hear either, but I think at its heart, it is really a Justin Timberlake album.”