Just in time for the July 4th holiday, Justin Timberlake made a surprise bid for the song of the summer with a new slinky soul jam perfect for beach BBQ’s and steamy nights called “SoulMate.”
The samba-like track dropped out of the blue on Tuesday (July 3), with the whispered intro “summer starts now,” suggesting that JT hopes to throw his straw hat into the ring for the hot weather jam of 2018.
Produced by frequent Drake collaborator Nineteen85 (“Hotline Bling,” “One Dance”), the song is credited to writers Timberlake and Nineteen85, along with Lechas Young, James Fauntleroy (J. Cole, Big Sean), Jagged Edge’s Brian and Brandon Casey and Gary Smith.
Over a shuffling rhythm and low, bouncing keyboard line reminiscent of a classic Lionel Richie hit, the song opens with Timberlake seductively singing, “I love your heartbeat givin’ me rhythm/ And I can feel your frequency, so unique/ In other words, such a freak, set me free,” before shifting into the pleading chorus, “I wanna be, wanna be/ I wanna be, I wanna be your/ Soulmate for the night/ Let me put my soul on you, it’s only right/ Let me pull you up out your body, into mine/ Let me be your soulmate for the night.”
Like the higher points of Timberlake’s not universally praised Man of the Woods album, the mid-tempo “SoulMate” is a welcome return to JT’s more buttery, body-moving sound, with the influence of Nineteen’s tropical funk production evident in the song’s insistent rhythm.
It was unclear at press time what the singer — who just hopped over to Paris for Tuesday night’s kick-off of the European leg of the Man of the Woods tour — is planning with Nineteen and Fauntleroy. But in a recent conversation with Complex, Timberlake had high praise for the recent spate of G.O.O.D. Music albums released by Kanye West as well as Drake’s Scorpion.
“There’s like two or three tracks on every G.O.O.D. Music release that I really, really am feeling. I love Scorpion, I think it literally just like answered anything,” he said. “I think The Boy came correct with that one. We’ve talked about [collaborating again] a lot. I don’t wanna say too much because I don’t wanna jinx it, but we’ve talked about it a lot.”
To date, Drizzy and JT have collaborated on just one song, “Cabaret,” from The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2, but it seems like more could be in the works. Timberlake also left the door open to more songs with Pharrell Williams, who he re-united with after a long break on Man of the Woods.
“I feel like we just got back together, there’s so much more to do and so many more sounds to explore together,” he said of his get-back with the Neptunes mastermind after a nearly 15-year gap.