Justin Timberlake has used some rustic words to describe the vibe of his upcoming Man of the Woods album. And while so far it doesn’t sound like he’s gone full country on us, it’s clear from the futureshock video the Super Bowl halftime performer dropped Thursday morning for the slithery, booming track “Supplies” that the funky JT we know and love is still in there somewhere.
The dystopian Dave Meyers-directed clip opens with a bleary-eyed Timberlake sitting in a darkened room facing a bank of dozens of TV screens blaring headlines about the #MeToo movement, the Harvey Weinstein scandal, Black Lives Matter marches, anti-racism rallies and images of President Trump all superimposed with the red and white stripes of the American flag. From there, Meyers takes the singer on a trippy, flashy ride through a barely recognizable city of the near future filled with peril and the promise of love.
Over a chiming bell, Timberlake sings “Ain’t no need of stoppin‘ girl/ There ain’t no need of stoppin‘, girl” before the screen smash cuts to a totally different scene in which men and women in all-white futuristic Victorian garb (including white face paint) confront a figure in black on a busy downtown street crawling with white crocodiles. Under a sky full of white umbrellas and innocent bystanders chilling in necklaces made of handguns, a flannel-wearing JT struts across the ash-covered avenue over the slinky beat and sings “Met you out on Broadway/ On the hottest night in town/ We arrived solo/ but we were being chased around.”
The dark, shrouded figure turns out to be Timberlake’s co-star, actress Eiza Gonzalez Reyna, who steps to one of the dandies harassing JT and knocks him out before the couple make their escape. The spare track, co-produced by Justin and the Neptunes, consists of not much more than a mouth-trilling sound, a funereal beat and some haunting harpsichord-like strings beneath the doom-filled chorus, “I’ll be the lie when you can’t say it/ I’ll be the world when you need me/ I’ll be the generator, turn me on when you need electricity/ Some shit’s about to go down/ I’ll be the one with the level head/ The world can end now/ Baby, we’ll be living in the walking dead.”
The effects-filled scenes then quickly phase from Timberlake dancing in front of a wall where his ghostly image mimics his moves, to a town square filled with burning torches (and Pharrell), a group of people bowing down to an Illuminati-looking pyramid that Reyna blows up and a rally where Reyna appears to be the queen of a nighttime horde.
The pair then zap to a Matrix-like scenario where they free suspended bodies from anti-gravity traps by ripping glowing rings off their necks before they are, literally, consumed by fire as they kiss and embrace amid the chaos. The clip ends with the doomed lovers emerging from the earth in a post-apocalyptic hellscape where a child urges them to “die already.”
After the dancing robots and Steve Jobs-inspired clip for “Filthy” Timberlake dropped two weeks ago, the singer definitely seems to be signaling that the vibe of Man of the Woods is more Black Mirror than Black Oak Arkansas.
Check it out below:
This story first appeared on Billboard.com.