Since his 2002 solo debut following a blockbuster breakout run in *NSYNC, Justin Timberlake has released nearly two decades of music and almost 2 dozen singles — and, of course, some have been better than others.
To celebrate Timberlake’s landmark 40th birthday on Sunday (Jan. 31), we’re ranking every one of his singles so far.
So where does your favorite fall? Check out our list below to find out. (Note: We’re only counting Timberlake’s U.S. singles that hit Billboard’s Pop Airplay chart.)
22. “Take Back the Night”
This carefree cut had the unfortunate distinction of sharing a title with a campus sexual assault awareness group, and the controversy ended up overshadowing the song itself. Timberlake did his best to make the best of the situation, telling Radar in 2013: “It is my hope that this coincidence will bring more awareness to this cause.”
21. “Love Never Felt So Good” (Michael Jackson & Justin Timberlake)
How could the combo of MJ and JT be anything but pop gold? Unfortunately, this song — the first single from Jackson’s second posthumous album, Xscape — failed to capture the energy of either megastar.
This one loses us almost immediately with Timbaland’s opening line: “She kills me with that coo-coochie-coochie-coo.” OK. And the metaphor for getting “knocked out” by love seems overplayed. It has a cool beat, but we were not knocked out by this one.
After his buttoned-up 20/20 crooner era and a new album title promising a pastoral pastiche, we were not expecting a return to the disco pop of 2006’s FutureSex/LoveSounds for the lead Man of the Woods single. But the funky Timbaland beat and tongue-in-cheek lyrics were a loose surprise.
18. “Summer Love”
This FutureSex/LoveSounds single is perfect for “ridin’ in the drop-top with the top down,” but it’s also ultimately not incredibly memorable on an album full of standout cuts.
This one-off single definitely delivers on the breezy summertime mood promised by its “summer starts now” intro line, and it almost feels like a cousin to Drake’s similarly relaxed “Passionfruit.” Ultimately, though, it falls into solid-but-forgettable territory next to other entries in JT’s catalog.
16. “The Other Side” (SZA & Justin Timberlake)
This vibrant Trolls World Tour single, with its disco-drenched production and shimmery keyboard line, looked like it would easily dance up the charts like its Hot 100-topping predecessor “Can’t Stop the Feeling!,” also from the animated series. But the SZA duet never caught fire, despite being one of JT’s catchiest and poppiest releases in years.
15. “What Goes Around … Comes Around”
The subject matter felt a little “been there, done that” after his earlier hit “Cry Me a River,” and with a whopping 7:28 running time, it was a very long single. But there are a lot of great pieces to this too-big puzzle.
14. “Suit & Tie” (feat. Jay Z)
After a nearly seven-year gap between JT albums, this song was a blessing from above back in 2013. But with some distance from its release, we can say it might not have been the perfect single we thought it was then.
13. “Can’t Stop the Feeling!”
Timberlake happily splashed back on the scene in 2016 with an upbeat (and eventually Oscar-nominated) song-of-summer-worthy track about wanting to just keep dancing — a message we can all get behind.
In this reflective midtempo track, Timberlake appears to sing directly to his wife, Jessica Biel. For someone who is so private about his non-music life, it was an intimate glimpse into their marital world.
11. “Until the End of Time”
This song is a total tribute to Prince ballads, complete with Linn drums. And then Justin went and added Prince favorite Beyoncé (his very own Apollonia) to the track to take it to the next purple level.
10. “Say Something” (feat. Chris Stapleton)
Ever since they teamed up on the CMA Awards stage in 2015 for an electric “Tennessee Whiskey”/”Drink You Away” duet, fans were begging for an official release from Timberlake and Stapleton — and they got it in this grooving, roots-driven third single from Man of the Woods. The whole song is a laid-back vibe, feeling like these two Southern stars just let fans listen in on a soulful jam session.
9. “Rock Your Body”
The third Justified single is where the MJ comparisons began, since it would have fit in perfectly on Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall. (We’re not complaining.)
8. “Not a Bad Thing”
It’s not a bad thing that this song sounds a lot like a throwback *NSYNC ballad — like “I Drive Myself Crazy” or “God Must Have Spent a Little More Time on You,” but with better lyrics.
7. “LoveStoned/I Think She Knows”
This FutureSex/LoveSounds single starts as a dance track before slowing down into a contemplative number, twisting the identical lyrics into something far more ominous — kind of like what a drug does to you at the start of a party versus the end.
6. “Drink You Away”
The Tennessee native’s first foray into country got a huge spotlight at the 2015 CMA Awards, where his performance of the sudsy song with a then-under-the-radar Chris Stapleton (see the “Say Something” entry above) put both “Drink You Away” and the bearded country crooner on the map.
Remember when this song first came out? Justin’s fuzzy vocals were hardly recognizable and the driving beat was brand-new to radio. That was just JT and Timbaland setting new trends — and inventing a new catchphrase.
4. “Cry Me a River”
The song’s tabloidy subject matter could have overshadowed the music, but this Timbaland production masterpiece definitely stood on its own.
3. “My Love” (feat. T.I.)
This is JT’s falsetto at its very best, delivering the loverboy lyrics that made fans from his boy-band days swoon. But then he added a verse from T.I., and suddenly it was OK for dudes to dance along too.
The Justified intro track was made for performing live — with its many spoken-word breakdowns and the male-female call-and-response section — but somehow Justin and Pharrell were also able to bottle that energy into a perfect five-minute radio package.
1. “Like I Love You” (feat. Clipse)
This is quite possibly the best post-boy-band debut single of all time. He booked the hottest producers (The Neptunes) and a bubbling-under hip-hop duo (Clipse) to show that the bubblegum had officially popped. There couldn’t have been a better introduction to Justin Timberlake, solo star.