It may not be the next big thing, but anytime a pop mega-star cleans the slate on social media, the world takes notice.
On Sunday, Justin Timberlake removed all content from his Instagram account and changed his profile photo. While the singer's Threads, Facebook and X and YouTube accounts are still intact, his profile image has been replaced with a close-up, searing look of his eyes in a car's rearview mirror.
These moves pretty much signal that Timberlake, who has not had a new solo album release since 2018's Man of the Woods, is preparing for something big to drop. That's not to say Timberlake hasn't been busy musically. Since that album, he has sprinkled singles and collabs throughout the past five years. 2020 produced Trolls World Tour: The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack, with Timberlake taking on the voice role as Branch, and also saw both "The Other Side" with SZA and "Don't Slack" with Anderson .Paak released.
Timberlake then went on with further pairings, with Ant Clemons for the anthemic "Better Days," as part of the quartet for 2022's "Stay With Me" which featured Calvin Harris, Halsey and Pharrell Williams and contributing to "Keep Going Up" with Natalie Furtado and Timbaland.
By far Timberlake's most public-facing event was again reprising his voice role as Branch in the animated jukebox musical Trolls Band Together in September 2023. Speculation went through the roof when he and his *NSYNC bandmates not only played off characters based on themselves, but the release of "Better Place" reunited them in song for the first time in 20 years, and a presentation at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards to hand a stunned Taylor Swift with the Best Pop award.
While that kind of news had fans and the media rumbling, slightly forgotten from all the recent social media scrubbing was the scoop way back in April 2023 in an interview with Variety, that Timbaland confirmed he and Timberlake had finished an album. A release date hadn't been confirmed then (as he would let Timberlake handle that) and as to the sound of the new material, the producer described it as a sequel to their 2006 4x Platinum FutureSex/LoveSounds. The album's Grammy-winning single "SexyBack" went to No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100 and stayed on top for seven weeks in addition to becoming his first solo No. 1 on the UK's Official Charts.
If this platform dumping means anything — is this his sixth album? — it will remain in the ether until Team Timberlake makes another pronouncement.