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Talking With Michael Jackson Inspired Justin Timberlake To Go Solo

N Sync in “Gone”

Justin Timberlake has been in the news recently about the story behind a duet by himself and Michael Jackson, but it probably isn’t the song you think it is. Last week Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake’s duet, “Love Never Felt So Good” was all over the radio when it was introduced as the first single from MJ’s second posthumous album, Xscape. However not long after that Oprah’s OWN Network released 2 teasers for the season premiere of Oprah’s Master Class, which features an in-depth interview with Timberlake. In one of those clips he  shares a personal story about himself and MJ from back in 2001 that got the web buzzing. For the first time ever JT reveals that *N Sync’s 2001 single, “Gone” was originally written for Michael Jackson.

“It was the first song I cut by myself and then brought to the guys and included them,” Timberlake said in the clip. Michael Jackson’s final album, Invincible was being recorded from October 2000 to August 2001, and was released by Epic Records on October 30th, 2001. Justin got word from MJ’s camp that the song would not be used for his album, so plan b was to present it to his label and his band mates in a meeting about the creation of the final *N Sync album, Celebrity.

“We were having an A&R meeting for the third ‘N Sync album at that time, and I said, ‘Well, I have this other song, but I originally wrote it for Michael,'”

Everyone must have really liked it because *N Sync recorded it and it was included on the album. Celebrity was recorded and produced between January and April of 2001, and was released by Jive Records on July 24th 2001. However no one must have told the King of Pop about this. He apparently also did not get the memo that he turned the song down for his album, which was still in production. Justin continued to explain how he got what is probably safe to say one of the most awkward phone calls from MJ saying he did in fact want to record “Gone” after all.

Justin tried to find the words to explain to Michael that the song he was requesting was actually already released.

“I’m on the phone, I’m literally punching myself in the face, because I said, ‘I can’t do that. Could we do an ‘N Sync track 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.”

JT also said that Michael’s absolute decision to do a duet with just him, and not the other members of *N Sync was a confidence builder when he was still only thinking about the idea of becoming a solo artist. Looks like MJ knew what he was talking about right?You can see Justin’s full interview for Oprah’s Master Class on Sunday, May 11th on OWN!

Justin Timberlake’s Michael Jackson Story


It is probably safe to say that Justin must have felt awful, but recording “Gone” with *N Sync turned out to be a blessing in disguise. It was released as the second single off of Celebrity in September of 2001, It hit #11 on the Billboard Hot 100. However, even more importantly the song crossed over to urban audiences. The track hit #14 on the Hip Hop/R&B airplay chart, and was in regular rotation on BET. To this day *N Sync is the only white teen group to do so, paving the way for Justin’s regular presence the R&B/Hip Hop world. “Gone” is also one of the only *N Sync songs Justin performs live as a solo artist to this day

*N Sync 


From Celebrity

Jive Records

Even though JT had to politely turn down Michael Jackson’s request to record “Gone”, he assured him there were no hard feelings. Michael gave a surprise performance with *N Sync during their performance of “Pop” at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards. The guys then returned the favor by performing “Dancing Machine” with Michael and the rest of the Jacksons, at the Michael Jackson 30th Anniversary Celebration. 

*N Sync Featuring Michael Jackson 


From MTV Video Music Awards 2001 


The Jacksons Featuring *N Sync 

“Dancing Machine”

From Michael Jackson’s 30th Anniversary Celebration (September 2001)


If all this talk about MJ and JT has you wanting more, you can hear their 2014 duet, “Love Never Felt So Good” below! You can get your copy by pre-ordering Michael’s Xscape album now!

Michael Jackson Featuring Justin Timberlake 

“Love Never Felt So Good”

From Xscape

Epic Recordss



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