Justin Timberlake Opens Up About 'Man of The Woods,' Fatherhood & More

Justin Timberlake

It's been nearly five years since Justin Timberlake has put out an album, but here we are in 2018, and Man of the Woods has officially arrived. 

Man of the Woods is Justin Timberlake's fifth studio album, and follows 2013's The 20/20 Experience. JT's new record features 16 new songs, including collaborations with Chris StapletonAlicia Keys, and Pharrell Williams, with production from The NeptunesTimbaland, and more. Justin has said that Man of the Woods contains a "wide range of sonics" that he describes as "modern Americana with 808s."

Up until album release day, fans had already heard a few songs from the record over the course of just a few weeks as Justin unveiled new MOTW music weekly, kicking off with the lead single "Filthy," and continuing with songs like "Supplies" and "Say Something" featuring Chris Stapleton.

On February 2nd, not only did fans get to hear the entire record in full, but during Justin's exclusive iHeartRadio Album Preview, the pop star opened up about the making of the album, and revealed the stories behind many of its songs to host Elvis Duran and all of his fans tuned in.

If you missed the iHeartRadio Album Preview with Justin Timberlake, you can listen to iHeartRadio's specially created station Justin Timberlake Album Party to hear the hour-long special on loop over the next week. Fans can also listen to Man of the Woods for free on iHeartRadio all weekend long as part of iHeartRadio's All Access Free Preview Weekend.

But to catch you up, we learned a lot about Man of the Woods during Justin's album special. From the stories behind the songs, to fatherhood, to what Justin's tour plans are, he opened up about everything. Read on for some of the highlights below.

The album pays tribute to Memphis and Tennessee specifically. 

"I feel like there's just more than one side to an artist. When we collaborate, we wanna push each other to do something fresh and new, but also pay homage to where I grew up. Not just all the different styles of music I grew up listening to, but something very specific to Memphis and Tennessee."

Justin Timberlake - 'Man of the Woods'

On "Filthy," Justin wanted to push the envelope and "kick everybody in the pants a little bit."

"First of all, finishing it, I knew how excited I would be to perform it live. And to me, the sound of it is, it's almost like [a] slap in the face, sonically. It just felt like something fun to do to kick everybody in the pants a little bit. Because I think you have to push the envelope, otherwise we could go for two or three more years, and everything just sounds the same. And, I like taking chances. If I did something that was boring, then I shouldn't put it out. I know it's going to be really fun to play on tour."


Justin is hoping Chris Stapleton will get more spins on pop radio than country radio with "Say Something.'

"Chris has been a friend of mine for some time now. We met, and when I first heard his music, a lot of people in Nashville know him as he's a real hitmaker. But he's also an incredible singer and incredible musician. I told him, when I first heard the music off his debut album, I said, man, this is bigger than just country music. You can't genre-fy this music because it has elements of soul as well. When you put Chris Stapleton and myself, but then you also put Timbaland and Danja, who are the team behind FutureSex/LoveSounds, and all those beasts, you put those things together, I just knew we would come up with something interesting. And just to have that different perspective too. He's just a really special artist and I'm actually excited about the possibility of giving him more spins on pop radio than he does on country radio."


A National Geographic magazine cover helped inspire the concept behind the "Supplies" music video.

"There was a National Geographic magazine cover that said, I'm paraphrasing what it was, but it was like 'this is what humans will look like in 50 years.' We will look so different, but by the nature of cultures coming together. So, the end of the video was kind of where it started. The video, to me, is actually hopeful. So then, when you break down what's happening in the world right now, which feels like the opposite of that, with a lot of different issues, I just felt like, let's do it. Because the song, essentially, was a little more fun when we were creating it. We weren't thinking anything political when we were making the song. The song, it's almost a love song in a way, where it's like, if the world ends, I got you. We're gonna make it. But it gave us this idea to say, if we were to do a high concept, post-apocalyptic, Blade Runner, Highlander, all the greatest sci-fi concepts that have this post apocalyptic world that's very specifically built on something that happened that was driven by politics, let's use this video to sort of make a statement on that. And, I just felt like I didn't mind doing that."


"Young Man" is a letter to his son Silas & was also inspired by advice his grandfather gave him.

"This album is inspired by my son, but it's also inspired by my grandfather, so that's four generations. When we had my son, I always knew that at some point I was going to write a song for him. But I kept thinking about my grandfather being a huge father figure to me, and definitely being an influence on how I will probably parent Silas. And in a lot of ways, I kept thinking about all these little life lessons that he kind of bestowed upon me before he passed away. And the concept of wow, if I could write a letter to my son, that's what 'Young Man' is. It's really just a letter to him, in a song. And something that he can put in a time capsule and open up whenever he wants, and go like, 'this is how my father feels about me.' And also, hopefully, that other parents and children can share with one another as well."

He adds of fatherhood, "I'd say I'm a professional father, but I don't know that I'm a successful father. To me, I feel like the success of parenthood is getting to wake up and fail every day. Because feel like every day you're like, 'ugh, why did I say that to my kid' or like, 'oh, I messed up that part.' But then you read them a story at night and they go to sleep, and they tell you they love you, and you're like, 'alright, we made it through today, let's see what happens tomorrow.' That's the success of parenthood so far, at least for me. I find that the most important things I can do are the things that I do for him that he doesn't see. If I have the opportunity to put something down that can be forever, that he can see whenever he wants to see, that's what 'Young Man' became."


Alicia Keys sings on "Morning Light" because Swizz Beatz said so after hearing the song during a hangout sesh at the studio.

"Originally, it was just me on the record, and I was in the mixing process. I was working at Jungle City. Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz, they own the studio, and they were at the studio both working separately in different rooms, and they just came up to hang out. And I said, 'let me play you some stuff form the record.' I played 'Morning Light,' and before it even got to the chorus, Swizz was basically like, 'Nah, nah, nah. Stop that. Stop.' And literally, he looked at Alicia and he was like, 'You have to sing this song with him.' I get sort of nervous to ask anybody to collaborate. I am not gonna get in the middle of a domestic issue, you should absolutely sing this song with me." He adds, "She came back the next day, and we caught a really good vibe, and she put vocals on the record, and just made it so special and really made it her own, and it reminded me too, that she's a really good singer. There's no way I could ever hear it another way."

Justin has plans for tour, and it involves seeing the Grand Canyon with the fam -- Griswold style -- but in a tour bus and not a station wagon.

"We've discussed it, and yeah, I think I said to my wife, like, 'let's be the Griswolds on steroids. We have a tour bus, let's go see the Grand Canyon -- with the tour bus, not the station wagon.' And I'm calling my friends too. We're actually planning, and funny enough, we've actually talked about them getting a winnebago or airstream action, and us all having the tour bus, and then [the winnebago]. When I was a kid, we did it, we would go on camping trips. It's a collaborative trip." 

He adds, "By the time we hit the midwest on tour, I think it will be springtime, so it will have warmed up some. So we were talking about, wouldn't it be cool just to take all the kids and on the days off in between, [and] like really go sight-see. Because he's young enough right now that he doesn't have to be in school full time. I can't believe these are things I have to consider now."


"Montana" is the most early JT style you'll get on this album.

"It's funny, because when you look at the song title, I'm sure when people saw the track listing, they were like 'Montana?' It's a dance record. It's very '70s. And I think when we finished that song, Pharrell and I, when we really started digging in on that song, I said to him, 'This will be a song that has a recognition from my first album.' It's got that inspiration of the Brothers Gibb. It's got that Bee Gees inspiration to it with the falsetto. I wrote a lot of bridges on each song, but my favorite bridge is on 'Montana.'"

"Higher, Higher" is one of Justin's favorites on MOTW & wants Quentin Tarantino to call him for music for the director's movies.

"'Higher, Higher,' that is one of my favorite songs on the album. Just, like, the vibe of it, for some reason, it just reminds of like, I secretly want Quentin Tarantino to call me and want to license it for one of his movies. He always has just the most badass source music in his movies, and it feels like it's got the toughness of a western, but it's got this guitar that my guitarist played that loops, that reminds me of, and this might seem like a random, random reference, but Dr. Dre's 'Explosive.'"

For more of your favorite Justin Timberlake songs, check out the Thumbs Up: Justin Timberlake playlist.


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