Sometimes it can be really tough to be a fan of Justin Timberlake. With the pop star’s upcoming sixth studio album Man of The Woods, JT dropped a trailer in January announcing a record inspired by his wife and son, one that would take him back to his roots and immerse him in the outdoors. So far, what we’ve heard from Timberlake is his lead single “Filthy,” a slightly updated version of 2006’s electronic heavy “SexyBack,” and now today’s new single “Supplies.” Country folk it is not.
As we continue to scratch our heads and try to figure out how the first two releases from Man of the Woods fit with the vibe and aesthetic that was the predominant force in the album’s trailer and title (if an 808 goes off in the woods and no one is around to hear it, is it still a JT sample?), we now have a new juxtaposition of message and visuals.
Directed by Dave Meyers, “Supplies” reunites Timberlake and Pharrell’s group The Neptunes for the first time since 2002’s Justified and it appears that neither party is ready to move on from the last decade.
The video opens with Timberlake looking like the guy in the Bose ads, waiting to be impressed by his new sound system. Instead, he’s watching a wall of TV screens with images of Harvey Weinstein and Donald Trump, with messages like “Resist” and “End Racism Now” sprawled across the screens. It felt like a promising start, but then things just got messy.
Running through an apocalyptic city with actor Eiza González, the pair battle what looks like a giant yoga class on top of a building and then ride through the city on a comically fast Jeep that is supposed to inspire us to resist, but it just makes us want to watch Zoolander.
The video ends with JT and Reyna surviving a sandstorm along with a handful of kids, with one child telling the camera to ‘Wake up.’ It’s a message that should be directed at Timberlake.
A flashy music video with a few messages at the beginning isn’t going to change the world or even the conversation. In 2018, what’s most important is listening to those who have been disenfranchised and learning how to be a better ally, not by sitting in front of the couch and feeling like you’re making a difference by choosing CNN over Fox. JT should take a note from this year’s Golden Globes, where actors brought champions of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements as their dates to discuss the important groups. It’s okay to support a cause and know that you’re not the best person to speak on its behalf. Should we be getting our resistance information from the guy who hung Janet Jackson out the dry after the 2004 Super Bowl, then released a song called “Take Back The Night” without knowing that was already the name of a campus anti-sexual assault organization? Probably not.
For music videos that send a clear and important message about social change, JT needs to study works like Jay-Z’s 4:44 series, Logic with Alessia Cara and Khalid for “1-800-273-8255,” or Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble.” And if JT wants to continue helping the early 2000s have a comeback, we suggest Christina Aguilera’s “Beautiful.”
Justin Timberlake’s Man of the Woods is set to be released on February 2, two days before he returns to the Super Bowl to perform the Halftime Show. Don’t expect any big messages of resistance there either.