US pop and RnB artist Justin Timberlake has become a legend in his own right over the course of his impressive career. But he has paid tribute to another musical icon, revealing that David Bowie served as the inspiration for his highest selling and most successfully charting single of all time, SexyBack.
Obtaining his first foray into stardom at the tender age of just 12 on popular US children’s show, The All-New Mickey Mouse Club, Timberlake had cemented his destiny for musical greatness. It was here that he met not only future (now ex) girlfriend and fellow pop megastar Britney Spears, but also JC Chasez. His friendship with Chasez would lead to the eventual formation of one of the biggest selling boy bands in music history, NSYNC.
After enjoying worldwide success and earning legions of fans, dissension began to emerge within the group, and in 2001, following a conversation with Michael Jackson, Timberlake set off in pursuit of his solo career. His debut solo album, Justified, landed in 2002. While it didn’t perform as well as his previous work with NSYNC in the beginning, it was clear that this release paved the way for even bigger things.
2006 saw the release of his now iconic track, SexyBack. Here we got a very different version of Timberlake to what we’d become used to. Gone was his falsetto singing style, in favour of an edgier, more RnB feel. We got a real glimpse into his impressive lyric tenor vocal range, with a fun, hot and catchy song that was destined to fill dance floors the world over. This collaboration with Timbaland was the first single from his second solo offering, FutureSex/LoveSounds, which shot up the charts worldwide and for the first time, really put Timberlake on the map as a solo artist.
When discussing inspiration for the track during a recent interview on Apple Music’s Essentials Radio, Timberlake stated:
I was listening to [David Bowie’s] Rebel Rebel, which essentially is about a cross-dresser, and so I was picturing guys, girls, all iterations of that in a club, singing this to each other. And I said, this has to be so simple and a vibe and just like an attitude. And I was like, what’s the most audacious thing you could possibly say. And that was the first line of the song. »
Bowie, who sadly passed away in 2016, has been cited as an influence on some of music’s biggest names and the industry as a whole. His theatrical performances, fearless image changes and brilliant musical talent has been an inspiration to many, with Timberlake only the latest artist to name him as being directly influential on his work. Timberlake’s solo career has gone from strength to strength ever since SexyBack, with ten Grammy wins and consistently high charting releases. He is an artist that continues to awe and impress fans and critics alike. No doubt Bowie would be proud.