With critics describing Timberlake’s 5th studio album Man Of The Woods as ‘struggling with its direction’, the Suit and Tie singer seems to have steered away from his usual R&B, silky suave self. Whether an attempt to reinvent himself or simply gather a new plethora of fans, JT is gasping for air in the same stagnant pool that contemporaries Katy Perry and Taylor Swift seem to have found themselves in.
With the album debuting at number 19 and only managing to climb to 12th since its release, questions are mounting as to whether the NSYNC singer should have just stuck to what he knew? Timberlake also faced scrutiny and controversy after covering the Prince classic ‘I Would Die 4 U’ at this year’s Superbowl halftime, whilst projecting a video of the late musician in the background. This has led fans, critics and the general public alike to ask whether he was aware of Prince‘s 1998 interview in which he hailed the idea of being “reincarnated on stage as a hologram” as “demonic”.
With all this backlash, 2018 hasn’t proved the best year for Timberlake, however with that being said, in the midst of Man Of The Woods (buried deep in some forgettable tracks) one song that is proving popular is the 70s funk inspired duet with Alicia Keys ‘Morning Light’. Gritty, croaky vocals interweave with a cool electric guitar part that are then complemented by both singers ad libbing in harmony, creating a smooth wave of soaring voices: for me, the highlight of the album.
In a game like this though risks have to be taken in order to keep up with the times and avoid being forgotten. It’s just a shame that, for Timberlake, his die hard fans are likely to cry him a river in 2018.