Release date: Jan. 5
Review: "Haters gonna say it's fake/So real" is the persistent refrain of "Filthy," the new single from Justin Timberlake. Why so anxious, Mr. Timberlake? This is an unimaginative but slyly effective electro-funk vamp with acid house accents, produced by Timberlake with Timbaland and Danja. It's cyclical and deliberate, like late-1970s big-band soul music, and only barely bothers to showcase Timberlake's lithe voice. Maybe the erasure of the old Timberlake is the theme here. See also the video, in which Timberlake, in a Steve Jobs turtleneck, outsources his dance moves to a sleek robot. (Why this takes place at a "Pan-Asian Deep Learning Conference" in Kuala Lumpur is anyone's guess.)
"Filthy" isn't quite the rebirth promised by the trailer released a few days before for Timberlake's forthcoming album. The album, due in February, is called "Man of the Woods" — yes, you read that right — and the trailer teems with lustrous nature shots and rich earth tones. There is a tepee-shaped bonfire, Timberlake striking a baptism pose in a lake, and a moment where he turns his body extremely quickly so that you can see the fringe on his leather jacket fly.
Maybe "Filthy" is a head fake, or maybe it's the final chapter of Timberlake's long-running R&B obsession before returning to his roots. Or, in the words of the gossip site Bossip: "M-M-MAGA Music: Justin Timberlake Is Officially White Again & Dropping Hot New Cracker Barrel Tunes Soon".
— Jon Caramanica, The New York Times
Bruno Mars featuring Cardi B
Release date: Jan. 4
Genre: R&B / Soul
Review: Another week, another reason to exult over the rise of Cardi B. On this remix of Mars' "Finesse," she raps with a turn-of-the-1990s cadence to go with the stinging New Jack Swing production. But the real joy is the video, filmed as a faithful homage to "In Living Color," from the multicolor Cross Colours outfits to the Fly Girls dancers — all that's missing is DJ SW1.
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