With the release of his first new single, “Filthy,” Justin Timberlake — intentionally or not — leans into the cheesy dad stereotype (he has a two-year-old son, Silas). For starters, he tries co-opting meme culture by making the track hook “Haters gonna say it’s fake” — a reference to a popular vine video format where less-than-clever editing creates ludicrous scenarios. “So real,” though, he reminds you — in what is a reference to his “meat.” The hook ends with “I guess I got my swagger back.” Timberlake might have brought sexy back, but the verdict is still out on swagger.
The accompanying music video sees Timberlake dressed like Steve Jobs hamming it up at a new iPhone announcement. That product? A dancing, colorful robot meant to look and move like the singer. Or is it not a robot at all, but a cyborg? The video ends with Timberlake fading away liking a glitchy hologram. It’s a predictable ending to a futuristic video. With recent sci-fi blockbusters, the unveiling falls a little short of novel. In all, Timberlake offers up nothing fans haven’t already seen.
What is noteworthy, though, is that for his album art and teaser video, Timberlake turned to NYC-based art photographer Ryan McGinley who is most well-known for capturing his hometown’s pretty and peculiar residents in their most natural state: nude. When not photographing them in his Chinatown studio, he’s taking them on road trips through America’s natural landscapes — combining all that is beautiful in nudity and nature. Even though he keeps his clothes on, Timberlake certainly earns a cool point here.