As expected, Justin Timberlake dropped his new single and video “Selfish” today, just ahead of tonight’s appearance on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon and two days before his appearance as musical guest on NBC’s Saturday Night Live.
The single is the first from his upcoming, long-in-coming album Everything I Thought It Was. The album, set for a March 15 release by RCA, is his first since Man of the Woods in 2018.
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“I worked for a long time on this album and I ended up with 100 songs,” Timberlake says in a promotional interview with Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1, released today to coincide with the single’s debut. “So narrowing them down to 18 was a thing, and then, yeah, I’m really excited about this album. I think every artist probably says this, but it is my best work.”
“Selfish,” which Timberlake performed at a concert in Memphis last week, was written by the singer, Louis Bell, Theron Thomas and Amy Allen. It’s produced by Timberlake, Louis Bell and Cirkut. The video – watch it above – was directed by Bradley J. Calder.
In the interview with Lowe, Timberlake explains how he ended up guesting on SNL this week rather than return to host for what would have been his sixth time.
“I flirted with the idea of, should I host or ask to host?,” Timberlake says. “And then I just thought, ‘No, this album is really special to me in a different, different way.’…but I also cannot imagine that I won’t get pulled into a sketch or two. It’s only natural. And I’m here for it. That’s always fun. SNL, for me, in any capacity. I’ve hosted five, but I don’t even know how many times I’ve been on the show.”
In the new video, Timberlake is seen rehearsing for what will become the video itself. He starts off in casual attire – white t-shirt, black pants – and ends up in more formal wear (and in a spotlight on a dark stage). Along the way, he finds himself crawling through a very small Alice in Wonderland-ish house, a scene echoing (intentionally or otherwise) such ’80s videos as “Don’t Come Around Here No More” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
The song itself is firmly in the tradition of Timberlake’s familiar dance ballad style, in keeping with the album’s title.
“I was playing [the album] for people around me,” Timberlake says in the Apple Music interview. “They’re like, ‘Oh, this sounds like everything we know you for.’ And then another friend of mine was like, ‘Oh, this sounds like everything I thought I wanted from you.’ It was like that sort of phrase, in one way or another, was in the air. And I thought to myself about how some of the songs are more introspective and some of them are more what I think people know me for.”
Watch the new “Selfish” video above.
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