Justin Timberlake is definitely up to something. Probably. Most likely. At least, we just really, really hope so.
Like fellow pop heavyweights Adele and Taylor Swift, Justin is the kind of artist who keeps fans on their toes by taking long gaps between albums, which both excruciates impatient fans and thrills them by making their returns that much sweeter. And so, when JT posted a photo in the recording studio on Thursday, it signaled that he may finally be prepping the follow-up to 2013’s two-part The 20/20 Experience (which was his first project in a whopping seven years, BTW).
The most exciting and noteworthy part of the snap, though, is Justin’s studio mate: Pharrell Williams. Sure, Timbaland is the producer Justin’s linked up with the most, but P largely co-wrote and produced JT’s 2002 debut Justified, including the singles “Like I Love You,” “Senorita,” and “Rock Your Body.” Pharrell was nowhere to be seen on The 20/20 Experience, but he recently helped Missy Elliot make a killer comeback, so it’s not farfetched to assume he could be doing the same for Justin.
After Justin posted the pic (which was simply and mysteriously captioned “Currently…”), Pharrell followed up with a vid of them in the studio. And here’s the best part: They’re wearing different clothes! So, clearly, their studio hang wasn’t just a one-time deal! Hallelujah!
Ultimately, though, this Instagram evidence raises more questions than answers, and there’s no telling what the two could be cooking up together. In January, JT announced he’s executive-producing the soundtrack for Dreamworks’ Trolls, for which he’ll write and perform original music. Pharrell’s done similar work before (remember that little tune “Happy,” which he recorded for Despicable Me 2?), so it’s possible their collab could actually just be a song about a frizzy-haired doll, instead of the slick banger we’re dreaming of.
At least one person’s already on board with Pharrell and Justin’s reunion, though: Tyler, the Creator tweeted an expletive-heavy approval of their studio session.
Interestingly, Justin’s recent Instagram activity may give some further insight into what he’s working on -- or, more specifically, whom he’s working with. He’s admittedly not a frequent poster, but he did recently share a pic with The Weeknd, cueing up our fantasies about a falsetto-filled duet.
And to commemorate Timbaland’s birthday last week, JT posted a sweet tribute to his longtime collaborator. There’s no telling when the pics are from, but they do use that same navy-washed filter as his pic with Pharrell… could it be a clue?!
Timbaland, for one, may have actually given us the strongest hint about JT’s next project. Following Justin’s performance of “Drink You Away” with country singer Chris Stapleton at the CMA Awards, Timbaland said they were considering heading in a country-focused direction.
"It [‘Drink You Away’] is now starting to be one of the biggest songs," he told TMZ, before suggesting they could record a country album together. "Now that you put it out there, why not?,” he added. “We are country. He's from Tennessee, I'm from Virginia. It's only right that we try to tap into what we was raised in."
So… to recap: Justin is in the studio. He’s definitely working with Pharrell. He might be working with The Weeknd. They may be recording songs about trolls. He might also be crafting a country album. Or, he's just giving us the pop project we all want and deserve. Whatever the case may be, I think we can all agree the time for new JT music is now.