Charting Justin Timberlake's music evolution

Charting Justin Timberlake's music evolution


Text: Esther Soh

Image: Getty Images

From electro R&B to crisp signature moves, Justin Timberlake chronicles the history of inescapable hooks in his boundary-breaking solo music

1. 'NSYNC's catapult to groundbreaking success with 'Bye Bye Bye'
From Timberlake's earliest years as a teen heart-throb in quintet boyband NSYNC, he has undeniably been well acquainted with classic upbeat dance tracks paralleling fancy footwork. The iconic song that skyrocketed at fourth place on the Billboard Hot 100 was also probably the one dance hit we had on loop in the '00s.

2. Full-on R&B transition in 'Cry Me a River'
We might remember the 2002 stand-out track in Timberlake's debut album, Justified, as an abrupt end to his fairytale pop romance with Britney Spears. Albeit encompassing the Tennessee singer-songwriter's brokenhearted and sorrowful spirit, this Grammy-winning hit, which peaked at third place on the charts, propelled his solo career beyond all expectations.

3. Ushering EDM sounds with his first number-one single, 'SexyBack'
The multi-platinum pop single of 2006's summer remains as one of Timberlake's biggest defining music moment up to date. Featuring the hotshot producer Timberland, the ex-boyband-er definitely marked "I'm bringin' Sexy Back" as the statement of the decade.  Arriving on the music scene like a hurricane, Timberlake definitely didn't fail to deliver yet another infectious and distinctive take on electro R&B.

4. The heartbroken man's love sequel, 'What Goes Around... Comes Around'
The 36-year-old poured his velvety smooth vocals into this cinematic breakup masterpiece, starring BAFTA award-winning actress Scarlett Johansson. Timberlake proclaims vengeance accompanied with forgiveness in this track through a brew of percussion work and smooth synths, taking the power of karma on a whole new level.

5. 2016' top-tier summer anthem, 'Can't Stop the Feeling'
This up-tempo disco-pop single for the DreamWorks Animation movie Trolls was certainly a funky song tweaked for maximum dance grooves. If we had to pick the catchiest dance number of 2016, it would be this all-conquering, feel-good track that dominated the charts and won the Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media. A gist of Timberlake's falsetto in the chorus "I can't stop the feeling" is equivalent to a pang of summery vibes.

Justin Timberlake will be releasing his fourth studio album, Man of The Woods, on 2 February.
Check out last week's #ManCrushMonday.