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American singer, songwriter, record producer, and actor from Tennessee
Justin Randall Timberlake was born on January 31, 1981, in Memphis, Tennessee, to Janet Lynn (Bomar) Harless and Charles Randall Timberlake, a Baptist church choir director. Timberlake has two half-brothers, Jonathan (born September 12, 1993) and Stephen (born August 14, 1998), from Charles' second marriage to Lisa Perry. His half-sister Laura Katherine died shortly after birth on May 12, 1997, and is mentioned in his acknowledgments in the album NSYNC as "My Angel in Heaven". His family circle includes several musicians; his grandfather introduced him to music from country music artists like Johnny Cash and Willie Nelson. Performing as a child, Timberlake sang country and gospel music: at the age of 11, he appeared on the television show Star Search, performing country songs as "Justin Randall". By that time, he began listening to rhythm and blues musicians from the 1960s and 70s, such as Al Green, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye, and he had listening sessions with his father of studio albums by the Eagles and Bob Seger.
In 2000, Timberlake appeared in the Disney Channel movie Model Behavior. He played Jason Sharpe, a model who falls in love with a waitress after mistaking her for another model.
The rise of his own stardom and the general decline in the popularity of boy bands led to the dissolution of NSYNC. Band member Lance Bass was openly critical of Timberlake's actions in his memoir Out of Sync. By 2002, when the group went on a hiatus and members were following individual projects, he partnered with Pharrell Williams of the producing team The Neptunes-and Timbaland to start working on new music. The idea of going solo was strengthened a year earlier. Timberlake originally wrote the single "Gone" around 2001 for Michael Jackson, but he turned the song down, and it was instead recorded by NSYNC. Before its release, however, Jackson contacted him. Timberlake declared in a later interview that the first time he felt confident to go solo happened after that conversation. In a retrospective article in 2020, Billboard considered Celebrity "the group's swan song, setting the stage for Timberlake's equally massive solo career."
[Michael] called me on the phone and said that he wanted to cut the record ("Gone"), but he wanted it to be a duet between himself and I. And I said, 'Well ... we've already cut the song as an 'N Sync record. Could we do, like, 'N Sync featuring Michael Jackson', or 'Michael Jackson featuring 'N Sync'? And he was very absolute about the fact that he wanted it to be a duet between himself and I.. [That was] the first time I ever really felt the confidence to do it
Near the end of 2002, Timberlake was the first celebrity to appear on Punk'd, a "candid camera" type show created by Ashton Kutcher to trick celebrities. Timberlake, who cried during the episode, later admitted to being under the influence of cannabis when he was pranked. Three episodes later, he set up Kelly Osbourne to be "punk'd", thus making him the first celebrity to appear on the show more than once. Timberlake later spoofed Ashton Kutcher and Punk'd in a 2003 episode of NBC's Saturday Night Live. Timberlake co-starred in skit titled The Barry Gibb Talk Show alongside comedian Jimmy Fallon, where the duo portrayed Bee Gees brothers Barry and Robin Gibb. It marked the beginning of a long-running friendship and collaboration with Fallon.
In February 2004, during the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show, broadcast on the CBS television network from Houston, Timberlake performed with Janet Jackson before a television audience of more than 140 million viewers. At the end of the performance, as the song drew to a close, Timberlake tore off a part of Jackson's black leather costume in a "costume reveal" meant to accompany a portion of the song lyrics. Jackson's representative explained Timberlake intended "to pull away the rubber bustier to reveal a red lace bra. Part of the costume detached, and Jackson's breast was briefly exposed. Timberlake apologized for the incident, stating he was "sorry that anyone was offended by the wardrobe malfunction during the halftime performance of the Super Bowl..." The phrase "wardrobe malfunction" has since been used by the media to refer to the incident and has entered pop culture. Timberlake and Jackson were threatened with exclusion from the 2004 Grammy Awards unless they agreed to apologize on screen at the event. Timberlake attended and issued a scripted apology when accepting the first of two Grammy Awards he received that night (Best Pop Vocal Album for Justified and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance for "Cry Me a River"). He had also been nominated for Album of the Year for Justified, and Record of the Year along with Best Rap/Sung Collaboration for "Where Is the Love?" with The Black Eyed Peas.
He continued to record with other artists. After "Where Is the Love?", he again collaborated with the Black Eyed Peas on the 2005 track "My Style" from their album Monkey Business. When recording the 2005 single "Signs" with Snoop Dogg, Timberlake discovered a throat condition.Nodules were subsequently removed from his throat in an operation that took place on May 5, 2005. He was advised not to sing or speak loudly for at least a few months. In 2005, he began his own record company, JayTee records.
FutureSex/LoveSounds, a full-length LP of coherence and uniform song-to-song quality virtually unheard of in pop music since the '80s golden age of Michael, Madonna, Janet and Prince... Like one of his suit-and-vest combos, Timberlake himself continued to wear pop stardom exceptionally well. He glided through his music videos and live performances with the confidence of a man who'd already spent a large percentage of his life in the spotlight, and who never doubted he'd be able to return to music on top.
--Billboards "The Greatest Pop Star By Year (1981-2019)"
Timberlake released his second studio album, FutureSex/LoveSounds, on September 12, 2006. The album, which Timberlake created from 2005 to 2006, debuted at number-one on the Billboard 200 album chart, selling 684,000 copies its first week. It became the biggest album for pre-orders on iTunes, and beat Coldplay's record for the biggest one-week sales of a digital album. The album was produced by Timbaland and Danja (who produced a bulk of the album), will.i.am, Rick Rubin and Timberlake himself, and features guest vocals by Snoop Dogg, Three 6 Mafia, T.I. and will.i.am. A studio representative described it as being "all about sexiness" and aiming for "an adult feel".
The album's lead single, "SexyBack", was performed by Timberlake at the opening of the 2006 MTV Video Music Awards and reached number-one on the Billboard Hot 100, where it remained for seven consecutive weeks. "My Love", the album's second single, also produced by Timbaland and featuring rapper T.I., reached number-one on the Hot 100, as did third single "What Goes Around... Comes Around". The song is reported to have been inspired by the break-up of his childhood friend and business partner, Trace Ayala, with actress Elisha Cuthbert. In October 2006, Timberlake said that he would focus on his music career rather than his film roles, specifying that leaving the music industry would be a "dumb thing to do at this point". He was the special guest performer at the 2006 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show where he sang "SexyBack", "My Love" and "LoveStoned".
Timberlake hosted many music events, including the European MTV Music Awards in 2006. On December 16, 2006, Timberlake hosted Saturday Night Live, doing double duty as both host and musical guest for the second time. During this appearance, he and Andy Samberg performed an R&B song for a skit titled "Dick in a Box", which some radio stations aired as an unofficial single from Timberlake. Called "one of the most iconic musical moments in the show's history" by Billboard, it became a viral hit and one of the most viewed videos on YouTube at the time.Rolling Stone listed the skit at number three on their "50 Greatest 'Saturday Night Live' Sketches of All Time". The song earned him an Emmy Award and was later featured on The Lonely Island's debut album Incredibad.
The song "4 Minutes" was first played by Timbaland at Philadelphia's Jingle Ball on December 17, 2007. When released on March 17, 2008, "4 Minutes" was revealed to be a duet between Timberlake and Madonna, with backing vocals by Timbaland. It was lead single from Madonna's eleventh studio album Hard Candy, which featured four other song-writing collaborations with Timberlake, being also one of the executive producers. The single was an international hit, topping the charts in over 21 countries worldwide. Timberlake also appears in the music video, which was directed by Jonas & François. On March 30, 2008, Timberlake performed the song at Madonna's Hard Candy Promo Show at Roseland Ballroom in New York City. On November 6, 2008, Timberlake performed the song with Madonna on the Los Angeles stop of her Sticky & Sweet Tour.
In 2008, a collaboration between Timberlake and T.I., "Dead and Gone", was featured on T.I.'s sixth studio album, Paper Trail, and was released as its fourth single late in 2009. In November 2008, it was confirmed that Timberlake would make a guest appearance and produce some tracks on R&B/pop singer Ciara's upcoming album Fantasy Ride due out May 5, 2009. Timberlake featured on Ciara's second single "Love Sex Magic", the video being shot on February 20, 2009. The single became a worldwide hit, reaching the top ten in numerous countries and peaking at number-one in several countries including Taiwan, India, and Turkey. The song was nominated for Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals at the 52nd Grammy Awards. Timberlake hosted the 16th ESPY Awards, and the musical number "I Love Sports" was later nominated for an Emmy award. Timberlake and his production team The Y's, along with Mike Elizondo, produced and co-wrote the song "Don't Let Me Down" for Leona Lewis's second studio album, Echo, released on November 17, 2009. Timberlake also co-wrote and performed on "Carry Out", the third single from Timbaland's album Shock Value II, released on December 1, 2009. Timberlake appeared on Jimmy Fallon's debut as host of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on March 2, 2009. Timberlake was the executive producer on the MTV reality series The Phone, which premiered on April 21, 2009. In late 2009, Barbadian singer Rihanna released the album Rated R, with Timberlake being one of the writers and producers. They both worked together previously for her third studio album Good Girl Gone Bad.
Timberlake began working on his third studio album The 20/20 Experience in June 2012 with "no rules and/or end goal in mind". He publicly announced his return to the music industry in January 2013, releasing the album's lead single "Suit & Tie" featuring Jay-Z later that month, which would eventually peak at number three on the Billboard Hot 100. After four years not performing in concert, Timberlake appeared the night before the 2013 Super Bowl and performed during the "DirecTV Super Saturday Night" on February 2, 2013 in New Orleans. On February 10, 2013, he performed "Suit & Tie" with sepia-toned lighting at the 55th Annual Grammy Awards, with Jay-Z joining him from the audience. On February 11, 2013, "Mirrors" was released as the second single from The 20/20 Experience. The song would eventually peak at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and number-one on the UK Singles Chart. The 20/20 Experience was released on March 19, 2013 through RCA Records due to the disbandment of Jive Records. The album set a digital sales record for being the fastest-selling album on the iTunes Store and debuted at number-one on the charts by moving just over 968,000 copies in the U.S., the biggest sales week of 2013. It eventually became the best-selling album of the year in the country.
2018-present: Man of the Woods and Super Bowl LII halftime show
Timberlake performing on The Man of the Woods Tour in Miami on May 18, 2018, which was also the sixth highest-grossing tour of 2018.
For the biggest pop stars in the world, the place where they have the most trouble is honesty... Because there's a formulaic sort of vulnerability... But if you're able to really screenshot your own vulnerability, frame it properly, and color-correct it, then it becomes something that every human can relate to. And I think Justin is in the place where he's mastering that right now.
Speaking of his fifth studio album in 2016, Timberlake stated, "I think where I grew up in America has a lot of influence. Growing up in Tennessee--very central of the country--Memphis is known as the birthplace of rock & roll, but also the home of the blues, but Nashville's right down the street so there's a lot of country music." In following interviews, Timberlake confirmed working with producers Timbaland and Pharrell Williams, while stating, "It sounds more like where I've come from than any other music I've ever made... It's Southern American music. But I want to make it sound modern - at least that's the idea right now."
Man of the Woods topped the Billboard 200 with the biggest first week sales of the year at the time, selling 293,000 total units.Man of the Woods also marks Timberlake's fourth consecutive No. 1 album and has since been certified Gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).Man of the Woods concluded 2018 as the sixth best-selling album of the year. An accompanying tour of the same name began on March 13, 2018 in Toronto, Canada and concluded on April 13, 2019 in Uncasville.The Man of the Woods Tour was the sixth-highest-grossing tour of 2018.
Forbes began reporting on Timberlake's earnings in 2008, calculating that he earned $44 million between June 2007 and June 2008 for his music, tour, commercials, and hospitality, making him the world's 4th best-paid music personality at the time, above Madonna and Celine Dion. That year, he was ranked twelfth on the Forbes Celebrity 100 list and second on the "Best-Paid Celebrities Under 30" list.
According to Billboard, Timberlake was the third highest-paid musician of 2013, with earnings of $31 million. He was ranked 26th with earnings of $57 million on the Celebrity 100 list for 2014, and 19th on the 2015 list with $63 million. Timberlake was listed at number three on Billboard Money-Makers List of 2014.
He was ranked 41st on the 2019 Celebrity 100 list by Forbes, with earnings of $57.5 million in 2019.
Unlike his previous record primarily focused on R&B and popgenres,FutureSex/LoveSounds is less concentrated on one particular sound, thus representing a wider range. Timberlake explains, "It's more broad as far as the styles I wanted to mix in to my own type of thing." A musically "complex" album, FutureSex/LoveSounds is a fusion of rap, rock, funk, soul, gospel, new wave, opera, and world music, characterized by preludes and interludes interspersed on the album's tracks.Entertainment Weekly noted that the album's sound is a "sonic departure" from both NSYNC and Justified. Although "What Goes Around" sounds similar to Justified, Timberlake admitted that it is the only song in the new album to have such similarity.
The 20/20 Experience is a neo soul album partly inspired by the expansive song structures of 1960s and 1970s rock. Mikael Wood of the Los Angeles Times found its elaborate structures ambitious in the vein of Stevie Wonder, Prince, and Michael Jackson. Since his marriage, he incorporated themes of romance in his songwriting, as Complex noted, showing that he "writes his tracks on his emotions, leaving him with a career of personal albums." Moments of emotional pain after betrayal influenced the songwriting of some previous records.
Longtime critic Robert Hilburn for the Los Angeles Times praised Timberlake's act after attending the Justified and Stripped Tour in 2003, considering him "born for the stage (with) the savvy instincts to put together a show that works. Rather than make himself the constant center of attention, he was comfortable enough at times simply to be part of a talented ensemble." In 2013, Timberlake introduced his big-band orchestra called the Tennessee Kids for Legends of the Summer and The 20/20 Experience World Tour which includes guitarists, dancers, background singers, drummers, bassists, keyboardists, trumpeters, a music coordinator, a percussionist, a saxophonist, among other musicians. The 20/20 Experience allowed Timberlake to throw back to the big band era, its stage production embraced a vintage sheen and everyone in classic suits. For the tour, Timberlake had The Regiment Horns, a horn section, onstage with him. Emily Zemler of The Hollywood Reporter described him as a performer who is "genuinely having fun," whereas Jon Pareles of The New York Times commented that the singer "reveals something darker, more fiery and intense" while performing post-breakup revenge songs, such as "Cry Me a River" and "What Goes Around... Comes Around".Billboard editor Phil Gallo praised Timberlake's medley performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards, saying he "gave the show its heart and center," also mentioning his place as a modern recording artist and a solid link in the lineage of the most acclaimed performers in the show's history.The New York Times' editor Katie Rogers highlighted Timberlake's crossover appeal after his performance with Chris Stapleton at the 2015 Country Music Association Awards. Described by critics as a "consummate showman," Timberlake usually plays guitar, piano and keyboard in his shows.
Timberlake's fashion and style evolution, from "boy-band synchronized wardrobe days" to "a notable source of fashion inspiration to men all over," has been noticed by the media. As noted by a Billboard editor, "Since his solo career began with the 2002 release of debut album Justified, Timberlake has honed his unique sense of style," while citing Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Frank Sinatra as style influences: "guys who were just really never trying to be that [stylish], they just were that." According to American fashion designer Tom Ford, who has dressed Timberlake since 2011 and created more than 600 exclusive pieces for The 20/20 Experience World Tour, Timberlake "has a kind of effortless cool that makes classic menswear tailoring modern."
After New York legalized same-sex marriage in 2011, he voiced his support for LGBT equality in the U.S., stating, "We're people and we're different, all of us. And we should be using our differences to bring ourselves closer together." Timberlake and his wife Jessica Biel received the Inspiration Award at the GLSEN Respect Awards in 2015, with the executive director saying, "They are two vocal and committed allies to the LGBT community who are also devoted to charitable works that improve the lives of youth."
Influenced by the national attention received by Timberlake's selfie inside a voting booth shared on Instagram during the 2016 presidential election, which was at the moment an illegal act. Senator Brian Kelsey of Germantown brought up a bill that would allow taking photos in voting poll stations, with some exceptions against bad procedures. It was later approved by the Tennessee Senate.
Following the release of Framing Britney Spears, public attention was brought to Timberlake's rhetoric around some of the misogynistic rhetoric he used to describe his relationship with Britney Spears following their breakup. It also led to renewed interest in his role in the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show controversy, where he exposed Janet Jackson's breast on live television. Following much public pressure, Timberlake issued a public apology on his Instagram page. Public scrutiny surrounding the Super Bowl XXXVIII incident was further exacerbated when a stylist alleged Timberlake had planned to expose Jackson during the performance in advance.
Timberlake has been referred to as the "President of Pop" and "Prince of Pop" by contemporary journalists. In a 2016 article of The Hollywood Reporter, editor Scott Feinberg stated Timberlake is "widely regarded as one of the greatest all-around entertainers in the history of show business."
In 2003, Rolling Stone named him the biggest pop star of the year and featured him on the magazine's cover, commenting that he "attained the one thing most pop stars don't, and the one thing he wanted more than anything else: credibility." For Entertainment Weekly his second studio album, FutureSex/LoveSounds, "redefined pop's cutting edge"; for Vibe it "pushed boundaries more forcefully" than works by his male contemporaries.Fuse TV's editor Jason Lipshutz stated it "changed the game. [The album] was steely and sweaty, a universal dance opus that made room for intimacy. It had the best first half of any pop album in 25 years. You have to go back to 1979 for Off the Wall, to find a pop album with a first half that matches up." He was ranked 66th on the VH1 100 Greatest Artists of All-Time. Timberlake appeared for the first time on the Time 100 list of most influential people by Time in 2007. In 2013, he made his second appearance on the 100 list, with Stevie Wonder writing "Justin has accomplished a lot at a young age, taking advantage of all the possibilities, and yet he's found time to give of himself too--he gets and gives back. He has a spirit. He does God's work through using the most of his talent."
In the United States, five of Timberlake's singles have topped the Billboard Hot 100, his most recent being "Can't Stop the Feeling!". The latter became the 41st Hot 100 number one song to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song. He topped nine Billboard Year-End charts for 2013, including Billboard 200 Artists and Billboard 200 Albums. For 2014, Timberlake was named Billboard Top Male Artist.Billboard published a list of "Greatest of All Time Pop Songs Artists" in 2017, where Timberlake ranked at number 5, being the top male soloist. The magazine also ranked him 25 on their "The Top 60 Male Artists of All-Time" list in 2018, and 64th on "The Hot 100's Top Artists of All Time." In 2019, Billboard ranked him 20th on their decade-end chart for "Top Artists" of the 2010s, and 74th on "Top 125 Greatest of All Time Artists Chart".
Timberlake has co-owned or provided celebrity endorsement for three restaurants in the United States: "Chi" opened in West Hollywood, California in 2003, and "Destino" and "Southern Hospitality" in New York opened in 2006 and 2007, respectively. In 2005, Timberlake launched the William Rast clothing line with childhood friend Juan ("Trace") Ayala. The 2007 line contained cord jackets, cashmere sweaters, jeans, and polo shirts. The pair reports inspiration from fellow Memphis native Elvis Presley: "Elvis is the perfect mixture of Justin and I," Ayala says. "You can go back and see pictures of him in cowboy boots and a cowboy hat and a nice button-down shirt, but then again you can see him in a tux and a collared shirt with rhinestones on it and slacks. We like to think 'If he was alive today, what would he be wearing?'" Target has announced that a William Rast collection, including denim, outerwear and sportswear for men and women, would launch in December and be available for a month. In 2015, the clothing line earned him a Lord & Taylor's Fashion Oracle Award at the Fashion Group International's Night of The Stars Gala. An avid amateur golfer, in 2007 Timberlake purchased the run-down Big Creek Golf Course in his hometown of Millington, Tennessee, which he redeveloped as the eco-friendly Mirimichi Golf Course at the cost of around $US16 million. It was reopened on July 25, 2009, but closed again on January 15, 2010 for further improvements expected to take six months. In October 2011, Timberlake received the Futures Award at the Environmental Media Awards for his green-conscious golf course. It was reported on November 7, 2014 that Timberlake had sold Mirimichi to Three Star Leasing LLC for $500,000. In October 2018, Timberlake and Levi's debuted their collaborative clothing line collection "Fresh Leaves."
In 2014, Timberlake partnered with Sauza Liquors to re-launch his own version of the beverage as part of the Sauza franchise: Sauza 901. In 2016, he became an investor in the beverage company Bai Brands. In 2017, Tiger Woods and Timberlake acquired an ownership stake in the Hurricane Junior Golf Tour.
Timberlake has been active in several charitable pursuits, initially through NSYNC's "Challenge for the Children" aimed at a range of charities, and since 2001 through his "Justin Timberlake Foundation," which initially funded music education programs in schools, but now has a much broader agenda. In October 2005, the Grammy Association presented Timberlake with an award for his humanitarian efforts in Tennessee, alongside writer/director Craig Brewer, also a Memphis native.
On November 12, 2007, the PGA Tour announced that Timberlake, an avid golfer who plays to a six handicap, would become the host of the tour's Las Vegas tournament starting in 2008. With Timberlake's agreement to host the tournament, its name was changed to the Justin Timberlake Shriners Hospitals for Children Open. He played in the celebrity pro-am on the day before the competitive tournament and hosted a charity concert during the week of the tournament. The activity was a success and was repeated in 2009. A review of the value of celebrities to fundraising concluded that Timberlake's contribution to Shriners Hospitals for Children was the single most valuable celebrity endorsement in the U.S. during 2009, and worth over $US9 million. However, in 2012, the event's chair Raoul Frevel told reporters Timberlake would no longer be involved in the event: "We tried everything we could to get him more involved with our kids and the hospitals. But it seemed that when the TV cameras weren't on, he disappeared."
In late 2012, Timberlake and his wife Jessica Biel volunteered in Far Rockaway, Queens over the weekend after Hurricane Sandy. Joined by their friend Timbaland, the couple helped distribute backpacks of supplies to members of the community who were still struggling after the hurricane.
On August 10, 2018, the cover page of his book Hindsight & All the Things I Can't See In Front of Me was revealed. The book, launched on October 30, 2018, cover some on and off camera candid images, singer's early life and inspiration for songs. According to publisher HarperCollins, Hindsight includes a "collection of anecdotes, reflections, and observations on his life and work."
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