The Five Lives of Justin Timberlake (so far)

Justin Timberlake is in town tonight, and while Salt Lake magazine won’t be covering the concert (we’ve got this little thing called Hamilton to cover instead), the multi-generational appeal of the most-popular member of NSYNC will ensure a full house at Vivint Smart Home Arena tonight.

Just because we won’t be there, doesn’t mean we can’t get in on the fun of having sexy back in town, so here’s a retrospective of the many stages of Timberlake’s career.

The Disney Year

Justin Timberlake Ryan Gosling
JT (left), Ryan Gosling (right)

Ah, look at what we have here: A young JT with Ryan Gosling. They were both on the Disney Channel’s do-over of The Mickey Mouse Club, along with Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears (more on her later). It was young Justin Timberlake’s first job but only lasted for a year, 1993–1994.

The Boy Band Years

Justin Timberlake Boy Band

But don’t you worry about JT, he landed on his feet again when, in 1995, he scored a spot on the manufactured boy band NSYNC. None of the four young men in the group were able to play an instrument, but that didn’t deter them from recording substandard pop music, much in the way Justin’s ramen noodle-like hair didn’t stop him from becoming an international heartthrob. Personally, I think Joey Fatone got robbed of his rightful place in pop music (and Tiger Beat cover model) history.

Justin Timberlake
Admit it, this hair is questionable.

The Britney Years

A few years after meeting on the Mickey Mouse Club, Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears reunited and fell in love—or something like it. They dated for three years and made terrible fashion choices together throughout their relationship.

Justin Timberlake
Canadian tuxedos and young love

Eventually, the story goes, Brittany cheated on JT. They both wrote songs about it—his: “Cry Me a River,” hers: “Everytime” (sic).

Janet’s Boobs and Some Other Stuff

Riding the wave of his success, including a song called “I’m Loving It,” which became a McDonald’s jingle (seriously), Justin was asked to join Janet Jackson for what was to become an infamous Super Bowl halftime show. During the internationally-televised broadcast, Timberlake ripped off part of Ms. Jackson’s bodice revealing her breast and them claimed innocence. Who could have known that would happen?

Justin Timberlake
This was a total accident!

I have two things to say about this. 1) Jackson was framed. 2) I’ve always felt like if Timberlake was going to bring “Wardrobe malfunction” into the public lexicon, it should have been for the his and hers denim outfits above.

But, as is usually the case, Justin got out of his public nudity scandal virtually unharmed and used it to further his career. As we enter the “SexyBack” portion of his career, Timberlake is acting in films, hosting Saturday Night Live, and poking just enough fun at himself to be endearing. He is our modern-day Renaissance man.

Justin Timberlake
You-know-what in the you-know-what

Justin Timberlake, Serious Man

Next we have the period in which Timberlake isn’t releasing music to focus on his acting career. He played the founder of Napster. He played a troll. He was in a Woody Allen movie (we still do that?).

Finally, after apparently realizing an EGOT isn’t in his near future, Timberlake returned to the studio for a Bon Iver-inspired album—Man in the Woods. Part country, part pop, attempting to be part indie-touchy-feely, the album has left critics shaking their heads.

Justin Timberlake
So woodsy!

As the Telegraph said, “Throughout Man of the Woods, Timberlake’s high, breathy vocals stab out a message of ‘escape to the country’ with all the conviction of a Michael Jackson impersonator jamming with the Drive-By Truckers in an Alabama roadhouse bar. It is a nice idea, but you know it is not going to end well.”

And, that brings us to tonight, when Timberlake plays the Vivint Smart Home Arena. What will happen next? Literally anything!

Tickets are still available here.

Christie Marcy
Christie Marcy
Christie Marcy is a former managing editor at Salt Lake magazine. Though she writes about everything, she has a particular interest in arts and culture in Utah. In the summer months, you will find her at any given outdoor concert on any given night. In the winter, you will find her wishing for summer. Follow her on social media at @whynotboth.

Similar Articles