Just two weeks ago, Justin Timberlake officially launched the latest era of his career with “Filthy,” his first new single in almost two years. Today, the singer is back with another new tune, and this time he’s got something to say...or, he wants to, anyway.
“Supplies” is the second song released from Timberlake’s upcoming album Man of the Woods, which is expected on February 2. The track itself is another sign that while the pop star hinted that Americana and perhaps even country would dominate his record, that’s not turning out to be the case. The tune is pure trap infused with a guitar chord, which is about as close to indie-folk as we’ve heard from the singer this year.
The video that was released at the same time as the song is filled with thought-provoking imagery and pop culture references, but it’s not entirely clear what Timberlake or director Dave Meyers are trying to say. The clip opens with the musician staring at a bank of TVs which reference many big issues of the day, such as sexual violence (Harvey Weinstein), political unrest (Donald Trump) and the Black Lives Matter movement (a number of protests and scenes of potential police brutality).
The rest of the visual treatment ends up being much more interesting than the song itself, and the special effects, large sets, as well as dozens of backup dancers and actors all make for an interesting watch and listen. But is the message here supposed to be that Timberlake is "woke?" Is it that he’s up on the news and knows what’s going on today? Perhaps the video is trying to push the narrative that this phase of his career will be about something more (in the same way that Katy Perry wanted Witness to be about “purposeful pop”), but if that’s the case, Justin will need to walk the walk, not just sing the talk.
If Timberlake wants to be a voice for good and a star who truly has something to say (and to further the conversation), he’s going to need to do so in all aspects of his life, and not just include a few scenes in a video that reference what’s happening. He’s more than happy to show the now-disgraced Harvey Weinstein on a screen, but he still hasn’t discussed his role in a film with the troublesome Woody Allen, who has had multiple accusations of sexual misconduct.
From the production to the chorus to the meaning behind what looks like an expensive video, please do better in the future, Justin. Next, throw it back to Justin's *NSYNC days where his bandmate Joey Fatone explains a time when things were much simpler...at least in pop music: