Writer(s): Justin Timberlake/Tim Mosley/Nate "Danja" Hills (see lyrics here)
Released: July 18, 2006
First Charted: July 14, 2006
Peak: 17 US, 14 BA, 15 DG, 15 RR, 18 A40, 11 RB, 11 UK 1 CN, 12 AU, 22 DF (Click for codes to charts.)
Sales (in millions): 4.9 US, 0.65 UK, 6.22 world (includes US + UK)
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 0.5 radio, 223.3 video, 623.31 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
“Even back in N Sync’s heyday, you always got the feeling that Timberlake was just a little bit…well, funkier than those other boy band singers.” MX Naysayers couldn’t help but ask who is “this skinny, pasty, curly-haired, girly-singing, Walt Disney World teeny-bopper to talk about bringing sexy back? And BACK? Back from where?” LR However, doubters were “forced to sign off…on Justin’s hot, hot hit” LR and acknowledge that he could “do no wrong. Two great albums after leaving a boy band, television and movie appearances where he’s proven to be pretty damn funny and a collaborator with many, he’s almost untouchable.” PD Kanye West said at one point that “Justin Timberlake should be the #1 artist on the planet (right before stating that he himself is actually that guy, of course).” PD
Timberlake told Observer Music Monthly, “The chorus is very James Brown-ish…It’s a very physical song, meant to provoke sexual dance. ‘Sex Machine’ is the closest reference.” SF He also said the song’s vocals were influenced by Prince, WK but that he sang the song in a rock style instead of an R&B style, as if David Bowie and David Byrne were covering James Brown’s “Sex Machine.” WK He said the end result “doesn’t qualify as rock or straight funk” WK but that he liked it being described as “club funk.” WK
Andrew Murfett of The Age said the song “introduced a new phrase into the pop cultural lexicon.” WK Billboard’s Katy Kroll said one “can almost feel beads of sweat rolling off” WK the track and that when Timberlake “claims to be bringing sexy back to pop music…indeed he is.” WK Entertainment Weekly amusingly wrote, “We didn’t even know that sexy was missing until 2006. We’re just happy Justin brought it back safe and sound.” WK
The instrumental backing is built on “a pounding bass beat, electronic chords, and beat box sounds.” WK Instead of his “famous falsetto,” WK Timberlake’s voice is distorted on the track and features backing vocals from Timbaland, who also produced the track. He’d previously worked on Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River” and also produced Nelly Furtado’s #1 hit “Promiscuous.” SF PopMatters.com’s Quentin B. Huff called “SexyBack” a ‘fraternal twin” with “Promiscuous.” WK
Timberlake had top five hits with “Cry Me a River” and “Rock Your Body” from his previous album, 2002’s Justified, and hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 with *NSYNC on “It’s Gonna Be Me” from 2000. This, however, was his first #1 as a solo artist. The song also won a Grammy for Best Dance Recording, a People’s Choice Award for Favorite R&B Song, and and MTV Video Music Award for Male Artist of the Year.
Last updated 4/25/2023.