Justin Randall Timberlake (born January 31, 1981 in Memphis, Tennessee) is an American singer who came to fame as a vocalist in the pop band *NSYNC. Like Spears (who Timberlake became romantically involved with), Aguilera, and *NSYNC's JC Chasez, Timberlake got his start on the Disney Channel's '90s version of The Mickey Mouse Club. Timberlake and Chasez were on The Mickey Mouse Club simultaneously in their pre-*NSYNC days, and they kept working together when *NSYNC was formed. He had made his TV debut a few years earlier on an '80s talent show, Star Search. He lost but instead of slinking away to a life of fry ups and chocolate eclairs in typical Rik Waller fashion, he kept going.
*NSYNC got started in Orlando, FL, in 1996, when Timberlake and Chasez teamed up with Lance Bass, Chris Kirkpatrick, and Joey Fatone. Managed by former New Kids on the Block manager Johnny Wright, *NSYNC were eventually formed in 1995. Enlisting hit pop producers Kristian Lundin (Backstreet Boys), and Denniz Pop and Max Martin (Robyn, Ace Of Base ), the team recorded a collection of teen-oriented pop/dance tracks. The band found success in Europe first on the strength of their singles, I Want You Back and Tearin' Up My Heart. A tour of American roller rinks introduced them to the US audience, as a result of which I Want You Back became a US No.13 hit in May 1998. Their self titled debut album was released in 1998 selling millions of copies in Europe and the US.
*NSYNC's second album, No Strings Attached, was released on Jive in 2000 and was even more commercially successful; No Strings Attached went double platinum in only one week, and the singles "Bye Bye Bye" and "This I Promise You" became major hits.
Jive released Celebrity, *NSYNC's third album, in 2001, and after that, Timberlake started recording as a solo artist. The singer had performed live as a solo artist before *NSYNC, but it wasn't until the early 2000s that he actually recorded an album as a solo act.
Timberlake's Justified album saw him hook up with prominent urban songwriting and production heavyweights the Neptunes and Timbaland. He co-wrote all of the material on Justified in a marked attempt to distance himself from 'N Sync's adolescent fanbase and woo a more mature audience. "This is much better than anything I've done with *NSYNC," he told Q magazine in 2003. The album displayed a surprisingly well-rounded appreciation of varying musical styles including R&B, hip hop, rock, blues and country. "It's not like I set out to create some new sound, I just wrote what I wanted to hear and drew inspiration from the past," he says.
He supported the album by touring with Christina Aguilera on the Stripped tour, which ran throughout 2003. Like Spears and Aguilera, Timberlake has traded the squeaky-clean image created by his handlers for a far-more raunchy persona, as typified by his staged groping of Kylie Minogue's backside as they performed a duet later that year.
Now a bona fide star -- the album had reached number two on the Billboard 200 -- and heartthrob to millions of girls, Timberlake continued his success by appearing on the Black Eyed Peas smash hit "Where Is the Love?" and in the halftime show at Super Bowl XXXVIII, where he pulled off part of co-performer Janet Jackson's top in the now infamous "wardrobe malfunction" incident.
The album's standout single, Cry Me A River was rumoured to be about his breakup with Britney Spears. The video featured a blonde Britney lookalike and the song suggested it was the teen pop queen who had been unfaithful. Timberlake seemed to cope with the breakup better than Britney and was soon dating backing dancers and a host of Hollywood starlets including Alyssa Milano and more recently, Cameron Diaz.
A 2003 appearance as a guest host on America's satirical TV show, Saturday Night Live show led to a slew of film offers for our young hero. He told Q magazine in 2003 that he had turned down a chance to appear as the new Superman although he has already starred in a TV movie, Model Behaviour and been importuned by the ferret-wigged Elton John to play a young Elton in his video for This Train Don't Stop Here Anymore. He has also started his own organisation, the Justin Timberlake Foundation to help provide funds for music education in US public schools.
Timberlake returned to the music world in 2006 with his Prince-inspired FutureSex/LoveSounds, which featured production work from Timbaland and Rick Rubin, and was followed by a brief club tour.
Sources: vh1.com, 8notes.com, tiscali.co.uk.