Justin Timberlake and Tobe Nwigwe on 'SNL.' - Credit: NBC

Justin Timberlake and Tobe Nwigwe on ‘SNL.’ – Credit: NBC
It’s been six years since Justin Timberlake released his last album, Man of the Woods, which sold 422,000 copies stateside — his first album not to crack a million. To promote the release of his sixth studio album, Everything I Thought I Was, out March 15 on RCA Records, the former boy bander served as the musical guest on tonight’s Saturday Night Live in support of his Social Network co-star Dakota Johnson.

After popping up during Johnson’s monologue and joining his sketch-comedy partner in crime, Jimmy Fallon, for another edition of “The Barry Gibb Talk Show,” Timberlake performed the first of two songs on the night: “Sanctified,” presumably the second single off EITIW (after “Selfish”). The pop star had premiered a snippet of the tune during an ESPN ad earlier in the week, and, live from New York, performed the song for the first time in full.


Backed by rapper Tobe Nwigwe and dancers in , the gospel-funk hybrid track — buoyed by Timberlake’s distorted vocals — went over like gangbusters with the crowd.

Fallon returned to introduce Timberlake’s second number, the aforementioned “Selfish,” an R&B ballad with the hook: “So, if I get jealous, I can’t help it/I want every bit of you, I guess I’m selfish.”

“We were talking about the song itself and just breaking down the idea that you just don’t hear that from men often, that they would express an emotion that makes them vulnerable,” Timberlake said of the trick in an Apple Music interview. “And then, growing up the way I grew up, you’re taught not to do that. But I don’t know, it just felt like a really honest song.”

He continued, “The lyrics just started to come out honestly. And when I listened to the whole album, I felt like it’s probably, of all the songs on the album, production-wise, probably the most straightforward, and I don’t want to say simple because it’s complex within its simplicity to me.”