A mere glimpse of Justin Timberlake dressed as a rural woodsman in the trailer for his forthcoming album, Man of the Woods, prompted accusations of “[w]hite colonialist fantasies” and pandering to Trump’s America. The Memphis-born artist’s foray into what his record label describes as “the sounds of traditional American rock,” however, could be interpreted as a return to his roots. He’s been setting the stage for it since at least 2015, when he performed with Nashville crooner Chris Stapleton and even cracked the country radio charts with his single “Drink You Away.”
Danja (#1–10 of 2)
This Sunday, Maya Arulpragasam is going to the Super Bowl, which is like Harold Bloom going to Disney World. It’s hard to imagine M.I.A. having much fun at America’s premiere chauvinist orgy of consumption, and her recent interview with BBC’s Radio 1 suggests she was still trying to psych herself up for the event. “If you’re gonna go the Super Bowl,” she told Zane Lowe, “you might as well go with America’s biggest female icons.” And indeed, it’s somewhat gratifying to think of M.I.A., Nicki Minaj, and Madonna unleashing the hot pink stinker that is “Give Me All Your Lovin’” on the most hallowed ground of American masculinity, during a halftime show typically dedicated to the geezer-rock pantheon. Ultimately, though, not even M.I.A. can make playing the Super Bowl sound badass or defiant. Walking into the epicenter of the American media to sing and dance between millions-per-minute car commercials with two thoroughly mainstreamed pop stars can mean only one thing, and that’s that you yourself must also be a pop star.