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Rock Your Body: Justin Timberlake’s Singles Ranked

Rock Your Body: Justin Timberlake’s Singles Ranked

 

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By the time the teen-pop bubble burst in 2001, Justin Timberlake had shrewdly positioned himself as the de-facto frontman of NSYNC, parlaying the short-lived boy band’s success into a lucrative career as a solo artist and producer, and even managing to convince the likes of David Fincher and Joel and Ethan Coen to cast him in their films. The singer’s foray into Hollywood resulted in a seven-year gap between albums, but that didn’t stop him from racking up the hits upon his return to music with 2013’s The 20/20 Experience. Last week, Timberlake premiered the lead single from this fifth album, Man of the Woods, due next month. The song, “Filthy,” is his 20th single as a solo artist—not including smashes on which he’s credited as a guest, like Timbaland’s “Give It to Me” and Madonna’s “4 Minutes”—and we’ve ranked them from worst to best. Sal Cinquemani

20

“I’m Lovin’ It”

McDonald’s reportedly paid Timberlake $6 million to sing the jingle for what would become the fast-food chain’s longest running advertising campaign. The story behind the ad’s conception is long and twisty, but it began in Unterhaching, Germany, where an ad agency came up with the slogan “Ich Liebe Es,” which as a hook would have made the single’s existence only slightly more tolerable. Cinquemani

19

“Drink You Away”

A special edit of “Drink You Away” was serviced to country radio programmers in late 2015, setting the stage for Timberlake’s impending bearded woodsman persona. Hopefully, Man of the Woods will avoid the strained, cliché metaphors that drive this Memphis soul-infused track. “Bottom of the bottle,” indeed. Cinquemani

18

TKO

The one saving grace of this unsuccessful attempt to recreate the magnificent bad faith of “Cry Me a River” is, at least for those of us who are “Mirrors” skeptics, imagining it to be the inevitable outcome for the 2013 hit’s protagonist. Like Björk once sang, how extremely lazy to think she could replace the missing elements in him. Henderson

17

“Not a Bad Thing”

The least ambitious track on either installment of The 20/20 Experience, “Not a Bad Thing” isn’t a bad thing, per se, but its guitar-driven blue-eyed sorta-soul represents the watering down of the formula established by the previous year’s “Mirrors.” The track sounds more like an NSYNC castaway than a representative of Timberlake’s most challenging album to date. Cinquemani

16

“Can’t Stop the Feeling!”

“Can’t Stop the Feeling!” is so innocuous, so unremarkable, so ingratiating that we didn’t even bother to write about it until the equally irritating music video dropped. So, naturally, the Max Martin-helmed soundtrack ditty debuted at #1, snagged an Oscar nomination, and became both the best-selling single of 2016 and the biggest hit of Timberlake’s career. Cinquemani

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