Justin Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience came out today, an album that was nearly seven years in the making, but one that also managed to sneak up on us in relatively quick fashion. Unlike, say, Lady Gaga’s Born This Way, which was hyped for 11 months before its release, we first learned of the new JT album’s existence just over 2 months ago. To celebrate the album’s release, tonight Timberlake released a video for “Mirrors,” the 8+ minute second single from the album.
The song, which some have theorized to be about Timberlake’s infatuation with his new(ish) wife Jessica Biel, is decidedly more optimistic than the video, which revolves around a couple at three different stages in their relationship. We see the couple as young, sock-hopping greasers in the 50s, coked-out thirtysomethings in the 70s, and then as Alzheimer’s-stricken septuagenarians (in the seemingly present day). Conceptually, it’s somewhat reminiscent of Katy Perry’s “The One Who Got Away,” with one major exception: Timberlake is not one of the central figures of the video.
Speaking of which, Timberlake does not even make an appearance in this video until the 5 minute and 45 second mark (!), at which point we take a hard left turn and lose track of the couple that dominated the earlier portion of the video*. More than anything else, this seems like a concerted effort on his part to ensure that the few remaining outlets who still play music videos on TV (like us!) play the entire 8 minute and 20 second video (instead of trimming the long, mostly instrumental outro). We’ll gladly forgive Timberlake for making us wait and puzzle over the significance of the time-shifting, fun-house-visiting couple, because his hair looks pretty rad and his dance moves are on point. What this video lacks in terms of a compelling (and sensical) throughline is more than made up for by the presence of JT near his all-time suavest.
*Did they die? Did they, in Lynchian fashion, get absorbed into the mirrors? It’s not really clear.