Every week, a slew of new music videos hits the web. Watching them at your desk is not time theft because you deserve it; think of it as a nice reward for surviving another work week. But what if you don’t have time to watch every video — maybe you have a deadline, a hungry pet, or other grown-up concerns. In consideration of your schedule, Lizzie and Kaitlyn bring you a series called One Video. Each week we’ll tell you “one video” you need to watch, why, and for how long.
This Week’s Video: “Filthy” by Justin Timberlake
Lizzie: Earlier this week, Justin Timberlake announced his first album in four years, titled Man in the Woods. The news was met with a lot of Bon Iver jokes, because Justin Vernon owns the thematic idea of the woods as musical inspiration, and look at this album art:
Unfortunately for Bon Iver fans, and for fans of that SNL skit, JT’s new song “Filthy” sounds nothing like Justin Vernon or any of his snowy, pine-scented side projects.
Kaitlyn: I don’t particularly care about the happiness of Bon Iver fans, or pine scents after January 1st, but I do love surprises. We selected this video for you this week because Justin Timberlake, amid many sins of art and commerce and facial muscles, surprised us by releasing, not a tribute to flannel and all its glory, but a strange clip set in 2028 at some kind of robotics conference. The woods? I don’t see ‘em, buddy.
We also selected it because the beginning of January is a time when many people are not releasing new music videos, so the options were limited, and because, if you think about it, were 2028 to be the year of vaguely disturbing dancing robots and that’s it — pretty good! I find it hard to believe that robots are not already capable of much more and much worse, but I’ll live in this fantasy for a moment with you.
Who is Justin Timberlake?
Lizzie: Justin Timberlake is a Mouseketeer-turned-pop-star-turned-actor-turned-comedian-turned-pop-star. He played a chef obsessed with raw vegetables in the Lonely Island movie Popstar. He was also in the movie Trolls.
Justin’s not known for having many of his own ideas, so in this video he’s channeling Steve Jobs with an Adidas sponsorship.
Kaitlyn: Something I’ll never quite understand about Steve Jobs is why so many dude pop stars are super into him. I didn’t know it about Justin Timberlake before today, but he’s not alone, and Steve Jobs is also a major source of inspiration — or at least repeated reference — for Chance the Rapper, Bono, Kanye West, the Brockhampton boys, and Jay Z.
This is unrelated, but he also inspired the A-plot of a season 5 episode of Bravo’s Vanderpump Rules, in which Stassi Schroeder went in a hot tub in the Hamptons in a turtleneck bathing suit and a boy who was trying to flirt with her said she looked like Steve Jobs. They did not kiss! Justin Timberlake’s wife Jessica Biel owns a restaurant in Los Angeles located very near the restaurant Vanderpump Rules is set in. Hers is called Au Fudge, which means, “the fudge,” and the one in Vanderpump Rules is called SUR: Restaurant and Lounge, which means “Sexy Unique Restaurant: Restaurant and Lounge.”
What’s special about “Filthy” by Justin Timberlake:
Lizzie: The video for “Filthy” is the final scene of a narrative about a rich and lonely tech CEO who invents a slim and boring robot capable of dancing to anything. Justin’s character proves this by forcing the robot to dance to “Filthy,” which mostly sounds like chewing metal while listening to an old Justin Timberlake song. In the end, we’re left with an important message: the robot is more real than all of us.
Kaitlyn: To me, this video is special because it looks like it cost more money than I will ever even be able to conceive of in my life, and what we got in exchange was several long minutes of Justin Timberlake and a robot dancing to a song that sounds like the Disney Channel TV movie version of Hedwig and the Angry Inch.
It is special, if you have a God complex, to have the ability to make a robot mimic your every move with no improvisation, then kick a soccer ball at an innocent bystander’s head. It is special that in 2028, a woman’s place at a tech keynote is “wearing something shiny, dancing for reporters and developers.”
It is special that, though this video is about Justin Timberlake reaching his final form as “Steve Jobs if he had pounded a 5-Hour Energy and 14 Pixie Sticks for every meal of his life,” the whole thing gives off a distinct Android vibe. In fact, 20 seconds into my first viewing of this video, an onlooker said to me, “Justin Timberlake definitely has an Android phone,” and I couldn’t disagree.
How long everyone should watch “Filthy” by Justin Timberlake:
Lizzie: It feels wrong to tell anyone to watch the entirety of a keynote presentation unless they’re getting paid for it, but I guess you should at least watch the exact moment the robot becomes a sex icon, around the four-minute mark.
Kaitlyn: I like the end part where Justin realizes he is a hologram and his fingers start to disappear.