“Rock Your Body” appeared on Justin Timberlake’s debut solo album, Justified. While the entirety of the album helped to put Timberlake on the map without his fellow boy banders in tow, it was “Rock Your Body” that has stood the test of time.
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The track remains one of Timberlake’s signature tunes. Upon its release, it peaked at No. 5 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart thanks to an infectious beat created by the power-house producing duo, The Neptunes.
The song reached even higher levels of fame when Timberlake performed it at the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime performance. The penultimate moment of the song resulted in a “wardrobe malfunction” between himself and Janet Jackson that is now known the world over.
Interestingly enough though, the song was almost not recorded by Timberlake and yet still would’ve had a connection to a Jackson, if The Neptunes’ first idea for the song had played out.
Did you know that “Rock Your Body” was almost recorded by Michael Jackson?
The connections one could draw between Timberlake and Jackson are pretty solid. Both started out as lead vocalists in vocal groups. Both have impeccable pipes and a fully stocked repertoire of dance moves. Not to say that Timberlake and Jackson are interchangeable (that’s the King of Pop we’re talking about) but, it’s easy to see how a song that Jackson passed on could find its way to the former NSYNC member.
“Rock Your Body” was originally supposed to appear on Jackson’s 2001 album, Invincible. The track is definitely in Jackson’s wheelhouse with a retro dance beat and an earworm chorus. You don’t have to have a very active imagination to conjure up what this song might have sounded like with Jackson on vocal duties.
According to Neptunes member Pharrell Williams, “Rock Your Body” was one of many songs on Justified that were supposed to go to Jackson.
“John McClain was his manager at the time,” he explained to Billboard. “We sent him pretty much all the stuff you guys are hearing on the first Justified album—that’s all Michael stuff. All but one song, they were written for Michael.”
“John McClain was like, ‘Man, Michael don’t want that shit! He want the shit you givin’ Noreaga!'” Williams continued.
Though some artists would feel a little weird about getting an album’s worth of songs rejected by someone else, given Timberlake’s reverence for Jackson, it’s safe to assume he felt honored to be second choice.
Timberlake credits Jackson for planting the seed of his solo career in the first place.
“[He] called me on the phone and said that he wanted to cut [the single ‘Gone’], but he wanted it to be a duet between himself and I,” Timberlake once explained. “And I said, ‘Well … we’ve already cut the song as an ‘N Sync record. Could we do, like, ”N Sync featuring Michael Jackson’, or ‘Michael Jackson featuring ‘N Sync’? And he was very absolute about the fact that he wanted it to be a duet between himself and I.
“[That was] the first idea I ever got about doing something on my own,” Timberlake continued. “It was the first time I ever really felt the confidence to do it.”
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