Justin Timberlake reveals how David Bowie’s ‘Rebel Rebel’ shaped ‘Sexyback’

"I was picturing guys, girls, all iterations of that in a club, singing this to each other"

Justin Timberlake has opened up on how he took influence from David Bowie‘s ‘Rebel Rebel’ while writing his 2006 hit ‘Sexyback’.

He told Apple Music’s Zane Lowe: “I was listening to ‘Rebel Rebel,’ which essentially is about a cross-dresser.

“And so I was picturing guys, girls, all iterations of that in a club, singing this to each other. And I said, ‘This has to be so simple and a vibe and just like an attitude.’


“And I was like, ‘What’s the most audacious thing you could possibly say?’ And that was the first line of the song.”

He went on to recall how he worked with Timbaland on the track, taken from his second solo album – ‘FutureSex/LoveSounds’.

“I’ll never forget this moment. So [Timbaland’s] like, ‘All right man, I think we got to bring dance music back’,” he said.

“So he’s [beatboxing]… He’s like, ‘Whatchu you gonna say?’ I just go like this, [singing] ‘I’m bringing sexy back!’ And he goes, ‘Yeah!’ He just said ‘Yeah!’


“But Timbaland doesn’t do anything off-beat. You should know that… So then we just started trading lines back and forth and it was just, it honestly, it was like a pop-dance cipher.”

He added: “You know, where we were, everything was off the top of the head, and we were just going. And then we finished it, we knew it was different.

“We would invite people to the studio. And every time that record came on, the reaction you got from any female was, I was like, ‘This is it.'”

The 2006 track went on to win the Grammy for Best Dance Recording and is one of the best-selling singles of all-time, having sold over 17 million units worldwide.

Earlier this month, Timbaland teased that a ‘FutureSex/LoveSounds’ sequel could be on the way.

Posting a photograph of himself and Timberlake performing together on Instagram, he wrote: “FUTURE SEXY LOVESOUNDS pt [two],” followed by a pair of zipped lip emojis.

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