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Justin Timberlake Through the Years: From ‘Star Search’ to ‘NSync to Grammy Winner

By Michael Jan 26, 2024

Justin Timberlake has come a long way since his humble beginnings in Memphis, Tennessee.

Timberlake competed on Star Search in 1992 one year before he became a cast member on The All-New Mickey Mouse Club with Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera JC Chasez, Ryan Gosling and Keri Russell.

Timberlake and Chasez stayed friends after their Mouseketeer days and became bandmates in ‘NSync alongside Lance Bass, Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick. The boy band released three albums (plus a Christmas record!) between 1997 and 2001 before splitting up to pursue individual projects.

Timberlake released four LPs since the boy band split and even performed on the Super Bowl halftime show twice.

The Grammy winner has also pursued an acting career, starring in The Social Network, Alpha Dog, Bad Teacher and Friends With Benefits. Timberlake even made a brief cameo in wife Jessica Biel’s Candy.

Scroll down to see photos of Timberlake through the years:

At age 11, the singer performed as Justin Randall (his first and middle names) on Star Search in 1992. He sang Alan Jackson’s “Love’s Got a Hold on You” while dressed as a cowboy, but lost by .75 stars.
Timberlake became a Mouseketeer on Disney Channel’s Mickey Mouse Club revival in 1993. The show was canceled the following year.
‘NSync released their self-titled debut album overseas in 1997 and in the U.S. in 1998. It included the singles “I Want You Back,” “Tearin’ Up My Heart” and “(God Must Have Spent) A Little More Time on You.”

The performer began dating Spears in early 1999, shortly after her own career took off with her debut single, “…Baby One More Time.” They were nearly inseparable during their relationship, and famously wore matching denim outfits at the 2001 American Music Awards. The pair broke up the next year amid cheating rumors.
Mark J Terrill/AP/Shutterstock
Timberlake made his movie debut in Disney Channel’s Model Behavior in 2000, playing actress Maggie Lawson’s love interest, Jason Sharpe.

‘NSync’s blockbuster sophomore album, No Strings Attached, was released in 2000. It sold 2.4 million copies in its first week, a record that lasted until 2015 when Adele’s 25 moved 3.38 million copies. No Strings Attached featured the hits “Bye Bye Bye” and “It’s Gonna Be Me.”

The group’s final album, Celebrity, hit shelves in 2001. It included the singles “Pop,” “Gone” and “Girlfriend.” ‘NSync announced a hiatus the next year, but it ultimately turned into a permanent breakup.

Timberlake proved that he was fine on his own with his debut solo album, Justified, which dropped in 2002 and featured the hits “Like I Love You,” “Cry Me a River,” “Rock Your Body” and “Señorita.” He received five Grammy nominations and won Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and Best Pop Vocal Album.

Timberlake started dating Diaz in 2003 after meeting at the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards. They kept much of their romance out of the public eye before splitting in 2006. They later worked together in the movies Shrek the Third and Bad Teacher.
Gregory Pace/BEI/Shutterstock
The hitmaker came under fire after tearing off part of Jackson’s costume on stage at the Super Bowl during the lyric, “Gonna have you naked by the end of this song.” The incident coined the term “wardrobe malfunction” and led the FCC to fine the network, CBS.
David Phillip/AP/Shutterstock
Timberlake’s sophomore record, FutureSex/LoveSounds, hit stores in 2006 to critical acclaim. Its singles included “SexyBack,” “My Love” and “What Goes Around … Comes Around.” Like Justified, FS/LS landed five Grammy nominations and won two: Best Male Pop Vocal Performance and Best Dance Recording.

Timberlake teamed up with The Lonely Island in 2006 for an SNL sketch titled “Dick in a Box,” which became a viral sensation and won a Primetime Emmy Award for its hilarious lyrics.
The multihyphenate starred opposite Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and Armie Hammer in the 2010 biographical drama The Social Network, which followed the founding of Facebook. Timberlake played Napster founder Sean Parker.
Timberlake and Mila Kunis costarred in the 2011 romantic comedy Friends With Benefits.
Castle Rock Entertainment/Kobal/Shutterstock
Timberlake and Biel tied the knot in Italy in October 2012 after five years together. Their guests included Jimmy Fallon, Andy Samberg, Timbaland and the bride’s 7th Heaven costar Beverly Mitchell.
Erik Pendzich/Shutterstock
More than six years after releasing FutureSex/LoveSounds, Timberlake returned to music in 2013 with The 20/20 Experience. The jazzy album included the singles “Mirrors” and “Suit & Tie,” the latter of which won a Grammy for Best Music Video.

Timberlake reunited with his former ‘NSync bandmates for his career-spanning performance at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards. He was also honored with the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award at the ceremony.
John Shearer/Invision/AP/Shutterstock
The singer released The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2 later that year, featuring the singles “Take Back the Night,” “TKO,” “Not a Bad Thing” and “Drink You Away.”

Timberlake and Biel welcomed their son Silas in April 2015.
Matt Baron/Shutterstock
The musician voiced Branch in the 2016 movie Trolls and executive-produced the soundtrack, which featured his Grammy-winning and Oscar-nominated megahit “Can’t Stop the Feeling!”
Timberlake dropped his fifth album, Man of the Woods, in 2018. It included the hits “Filthy” and “Say Something,” the latter of which was nominated for a Grammy.

Fourteen years after Nipplegate, Timberlake was invited back to the Super Bowl to headline the 2018 halftime show. He performed hits including “Rock Your Body,” “SexyBack,” “Cry Me a River” and “Mirrors,” and made headlines for stopping to take a selfie with a fan in the middle of the performance.
Erik S Lesser/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
The Palmer actor came under fire in 2019 after he was photographed holding hands with his costar Wainwright at a bar in New Orleans. He later apologized on Instagram for his “strong lapse in judgement,” admitting, “I should have known better. This is not the example I want to set for my son.” Multiple sources told Us that Biel was upset about the scandal, but she ultimately forgave her husband.
Brian McKnight confirmed in July 2020 that Timberlake and Biel secretly welcomed their second child.
Matt Baron/Shutterstock
Timberlake opened up about baby No. 2 for the first time during a January 2021 appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. “His name is Phineas and he’s awesome and he’s so cute and nobody is sleeping, but we’re thrilled and couldn’t be happier,” he gushed. “Very grateful.”
Courtesy Justin Timberlake/Instagram
Timberlake slowed down to enjoy some family time, relocating to his home state of Tennessee. “[He and Biel] made the decision to get out of Los Angeles and take some time away, and they’re both so happy they did,” a source told Us in August 2021. “They both prefer the country life. It’s great for the boys because they have so much space and freedom. … He always said that’s where he wanted to settle down and raise kids.”
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Timberlake and Biel renewed their wedding vows on their 10th anniversary.
“It was very intimate. It was very small, a couple of our friends, and we literally barely put this thing together,” Biel revealed on the Today show in November. “We almost canceled it. We thought, ‘This is silly, are we going to feel goofy doing this?’ And actually, it was so moving. I felt like, ‘Wow, we’re going to keep doing this. Look at us!’ It felt really nice.”
Momodu Mansaray/Getty Images
Timberlake and his former ‘NSync bandmates made a surprise appearance at the MTV VMAs in September, presenting Taylor Swift with the award for Best Pop Video. The surprise award show appearance teased the band’s first new project in 20 years, a song titled “Better Place.” (The single was recorded to accompany Timberlake’s animated film Trolls Band Together.)
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for MTV
In January, Timberlake dropped a new single, “Selfish,” along with an accompanying music video. The release marked the singer’s first endeavor as a solo artist since his 2018 album, Man of the Woods. He also announced that his sixth studio album, Everything I Thought It Was, is coming on March 15.

By Michael

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