Over the past few days, everyone has been speculating about the sound of pop star Justin Timberlake’s new record, Man in the Woods. The teaser’s scenic imagery reiterated the rumors that have built over the past two years about the Tennessee native’s intentions to go a more country route with his music.
Early this morning, Timberlake dropped the song “Filthy” and it’s accompanying video. And it’s a whole lot more Prince than Chris Stapleton.
The song feels like a natural sequel to the tracks off his acclaimed 2013 record The 20/20 Experience, mixing elements of hip hop, pop, R&B and electronica with steamy lyrics. It’s hard to find any inkling of country influences in a video featuring a risqué robot.
But none of us should really be surprised. Since he started his solo career in 2002, Timberlake has been building on the same steady soundscape and winning over millions by doing so. Even if he wanted to trade it all in for a country career, releasing a fully country-inspired album would earn immediate criticism from the industry and longtime fans.
It’s important to note that “Filthy” likely doesn’t represent the whole album. Listeners shouldn’t be surprised to hear more folky elements worked into tracks like his highly-anticipated collaboration with the aforementioned Stapleton.
The big reveal of Timberlake’s comeback single is a good reminder that you should never judge a book by it’s cover, nor an album by its one minute teaser.