Justin Timberlake is back, and this time he’s in a selfish mood.
The pop star dropped his new single “Selfish” on Thursday morning (Jan. 25), marking JT’s first solo release in more than five years. The video for the song opens with Timberlake bowing to a clapping audience and then slipping behind a curtain into a rehearsal studio as the mid-tempo song’s warm keyboard and subtle beat bubble up.
“If they saw what I saw/ They would fall the way I fell/ They don’t know what you want/ And, baby I would never tell,” he sings in the song about endless devotion, pledging to never let his lover go. “‘Cause Your lips were made for mine/ And my heart would go flatline/ If it wasn’t beating for you all the time,” Timberlake adds in the pre-chorus of the song he co-wrote with Louis Bell (Taylor Swift), Cirkut (Maroon 5), Theron Thomas and Amy Allen and which he co-produced with Bell and Cirkut.
The pensive, Alice in Wonderland-style video directed by Bradley J. Calder (SZA) focuses solely on Timberlake, who enters a small door on the soundstage that transports him into a perspective-skewed hallway in which he appears as a giant scrambling to answer a red phone on the far wall.
“So if i get jealous, I can’t help it/ I want every bit of you, I guess I’m selfish,” he sings in his signature falsetto on the smoothed-out chorus. “It’s bad for my mental, but I can’t fight it/ When you’re out lookin’ like you do/ But you can’t hide it, no,” he adds. The low key song stays in the same mellow gear throughout, while the video finds a frustrated Timberlake repeatedly stomping the miniature sets to pieces and stepping outside into the rain looking pensive before cutting to the singer in a custom suit on a dimly lit stage showing off his signature smooth dance moves.
The singer has teased the cut several ways in recent days, including a hometown live debut and a post with what appeared to be the official cover art, shot by photographer Charlotte Rutherford. Then, a snippet which pictured JT from behind the stage curtain, thanking an audience over the sound of an old school analogue drum machine and lo-fi organ, lifted from the video’s intro.
JT debuted the silky, R&B-leaning track live at his free hometown concert in Memphis on Jan. 19, pulling back the curtain on the first track from his forthcoming sixth album, titled Everything I Thought It Was. “Selfish” is the first taste of the follow-up to his musky 2018 solo LP Man of the Woods, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200. EITIW is slated for release on March 15.
Though his solo music career has been in deep hibernation, Timberlake did return to his boy band roots last year when he reunited with *NSYNC for “Better Place,” which accompanied the JT-starring animated family film Trolls Band Together. The track bowed at No. 25, for *NSYNC’s lucky 13th appearance on the Billboard Hot 100 and first appearance on the tally since “Girlfriend” featuring Nelly reached No. 5 — way back in 2002.
The 10-time Grammy winner will remind fans of what they’ve been missing when he serves as musical guest on Saturday Night Live this weekend, with Dakota Johnson hosting. There’s more small-screen action to come when JT stops by the The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon next Thursday. The singer also announced another small-capacity show in New York on Wednesday, revealing that he’ll play the 1,100-capacity Irving Plaza on Jan. 31.
Watch the “Selfish” video below.