What the hell happened to Justin Timberlake?

timberlake Dee-Dwyer_Rolling-Stone_SITW_Sat-51.jpg Dee-Dwyer_Rolling-Stone_SITW_Sat-51 – Credit: Dee Dwyer for Rolling Stone

Zoomers, especially those on TikTok, are really good at making previously praised white men look remarkably uncool. It’s a curse that has now fallen on Justin Timberlake, the former Prince of Pop.

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By the turn of the century, Timberlake was dominating every facet of pop culture. He was the de facto star of the dominant boy group *NSYNC and the boyfriend of pop princess Britney Spears. When those two parts of her life ended in particularly dramatic fashion, he turned her into a solo superstar. Twenty years ago this fall, he made his mark with Justified. Four years later, FutureSex/LoveSounds would ensure him enough bona fide and influence in the industry for at least another decade.

In between, he made some pretty big attempts at movie stardom. Although many of them would flounder (remember The Love Guru? *chills*), bright spots like The social network and its recurrence saturday night live appearances at least gave the illusion that he was a triple threat.

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Over the past few years, however, things have changed drastically for pop’s Bad-ish Boy-Next-Door. He took several long breaks between albums that eventually got responses ranging from lukewarm to horrified (2018’s The man of the woods, anyone?) and he hasn’t exactly taken over Hollywood. In addition to some career missteps, public opinion on some of her actions as a budding star has been revisited, such as the Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction that cost Janet Jackson her career and the way which he made Britney Spears a villain after they broke up. The blowback was so strong that Timberlake had to issue a public apology to both women, though Jackson and Spears denied harboring any ill will towards him.

As her uncontrolled past catches up, her present promises to be just as troublesome. In 2019, he was spotted holding hands with a co-star while he was (and still is) very married to Jessica Biel. A host of alleged indiscriminate articles have been widely attributed to him (although none have been confirmed), suggesting that he cheated on his wife on several occasions and may also be bald.

All of this made it incredibly difficult for Timberlake — who, like many of his turn-of-the-millennium peers, was as well known for his dancing as he was his singing — to survive the public embarrassment of spoiling the Beat Ya Feet dance. In a viral video of his performance at Pharrell’s Something in the Water festival that could weigh on his career more than anything mentioned so far, the teen idol gives energy to a clumsy dad for the first times of his musical career. It’s as heartbreaking for the millennial psyche as it is for the many TikTok creators who spent a week roasting how he turned the DC specialty into an Irish jig.

Funnily enough, he has since apologized for that too. At least he arrived faster than the others.

On the last episode of Don’t let this flopco-hosts Brittany Spanos and Ej Dickson break down the Timberlake saga, and also discuss the Minions and their iconic role in internet culture, VidCon, an OnlyFans couple who may or may not be sisters, and Himbo’s polite dismissal of the week by Robert Irwin. TikTok fans.

DLTF is released on Wednesdays on all audio streaming platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music, Stitcher, and more.

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