In 1999, if you had told me that the curly-headed kid in my favorite boy band would be one of the music world's biggest superstars a decade and a half later, I probably would've ignored you and turned Carson Daly and Total Request Live up.
And if you had told me his breakout song would be something called "SexyBack," I most definitely would've said "Bye Bye Bye," because those kinds of things just don't happen in real life. But Justin Timberlake had a vision for his music, and now he's finally opening up about the truth of his feelings over leaving 'NSYNC to pursue it.
JT received more than his fair share of criticism when he decided to split from Chris, Joey, JC, and Lance to pursue a solo career, and on Sunday's season premiere of Oprah's Master Class on OWN, the singer shared what it was like back in those days.
"I would wake up every morning feeling this more and more of an urge to step out on my own," he confessed. He was only 21, and ready to "try my own hand as a musician, just by myself," despite being warned not to leave the group at the height of its popularity.
"Why wouldn't you ride this out?" he said he felt everyone thinking. "You're the biggest group in the world. Why would you walk away from this?"
On his ultimate decision to follow his instincts, he said, "It's one of the best/worst things that I have ever done ... it was bittersweet. It was hard to say goodbye to that era, but I felt it changing. I felt music changing. And I felt myself changing."
While FutureSex/LoveSounds went on to win two Grammys, JT had a hard time convincing people to go for the record's first single, "SexyBack," which was written and co-produced with Timbaland and Nate "Danja" Hills.
"I had to convince people that 'SexyBack' was my song ... they didn't even think it was me, people thought it was a joke," he shared. (I totally would've been one of those people, and "SexyBack" was my ringtone for a while there in 2006. Shhhh! Don't tell anyone, mmmkay?)
The singer also said of the song, "I believed in it and I believed in what it made other people do. You learn to trust your gut. I only have my instinct, which is a powerful thing."
Powerful indeed. Justin Timberlake's gut apparently knows a thing or two about music, and now our ears can rejoice that his heart was big enough to follow his dream even when everyone around him discouraged it.
Have you ever had to let someone down to do what you knew was right in your heart?
Image via Justin Timberlake/Instagram