Would Justin Timberlake survive in the woods alone with nothing but his wits, good looks and animal instinct? I don’t know. His new album is titled Man of the Woods, but maybe he’s more of a “Man of the Woods” in the metaphorical sense—not “in” the woods physically, as this trailer suggests, but in the woods of the mind.
Two things have changed Timberlake’s life in immeasurable ways in the past few years: Trolls and becoming a dad. It was the Trolls song “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” that spun Timberlake deeper into the dadosphere, and it was becoming a dad that made him see the world as a dad. “This album is really inspired by my son, my wife, my family,” he narrates, “but more so than any other album I’ve ever written, where I’m from. And it’s personal.” He’s going back to his roots in Tennessee.
Many aspects of this masculine trailer could be made fun of, for people who do that sort of thing for a living (like me)—it looks like a rugged Jeep Cherokee or Old Spice commercial, or a movie where Justin Timberlake has to saw off his hand. But it seems to also be about survival. Wilderness survival as a cool marketing aesthetic.
Pharrell Williams appears at the end of the video to tell JT that his new vibe “feels so earthy.” Which means much of the album, once it’s released in February, will probably sound good while simultaneously appealing to woodland and rural white people who love being out on the open road. This is JT’s Revenant pop. As his wife Jessica Biel explains in the teaser, “It feels like mountains, trees, campfires. Like Wild West but now.” Ok.