Justin Timberlake seemingly teases new music with 'Sanctified' ESPN ad. Anticipation has been building for months.

Justin Timberlake at a special screening of Trolls Band Together.
Justin Timberlake at a special screening of Trolls Band Together. (Gilbert Flores/Variety via Getty Images) (Gilbert Flores via Getty Images)

Will fans hear new music from Justin Timberlake in 2024? During an ESPN commercial for the NFL, his voice plays over images of football players on the gridiron as the text on the bottom left corner of the screen reads, Justin Timberlake “Sanctified.”

While it’s only a short audio snippet, it’s one of the latest moves from the pop star that seemingly hints at a return to music this year, with a possible new album on the way.

On Jan. 8, fans noticed that Timberlake, 42, deleted his entire Instagram feed and changed his avatar picture to a photo of himself peeking out of a car’s rearview mirror with his eyes cast in light. Then on Jan. 12, he posted about his forthcoming Memphis “one night only” show.

Days later on Jan. 17, he posted a series of photos on Instagram with the caption “EITIW.” The first image in the slideshow features an upside down flier that reads, “Missing.” TMZ obtained trademark applications, filed by an attorney who previously worked with the singer, for the phrase “Everything I Thought It Was.”

Over the past few months, JT has been teaming up with his frequent past collaborators. In August of last year, ESPN announced that Timberlake and longtime producer Timbaland were teaming up to curate music for some Monday Night Football games throughout the NFL’s 2023-2024 season.

In September, the “SexyBack” singer reunited with Timbaland and Nelly Furtado for the single “Keep Going Up.” Later that month, he released the first new song with his NSync bandmates in years for the latest Trolls movie, in which he also lends his voice.

Timberlake’s last full-length album, Man of the Woods, came out in 2018. The album, which featured hit “Say Something” with Chris Stapleton, showcased a different sound for the singer, who had come off of his critically and commercially acclaimed 2013 releases The 20/20 Experience and The 20/20 Experience, 2 of 2.

With fans eager for new music, here’s a breakdown of what Timberlake has been up to in the studio and what clues he’s leaving as a sign of things to come.

September 2023

One of the biggest storylines at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards was NSync reuniting onstage for the first time in 10 years. Timberlake appeared alongside fellow boy-banders Lance Bass, JC Chasez, Joey Fatone and Chris Kirkpatrick, in color coordinating suits no less, to present the Best Pop Video award to Taylor Swift.

Joey Fatone, Lance Bass, Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez and Chris Kirkpatrick of NSync onstage at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards.
From left: Joey Fatone, Lance Bass, Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez and Chris Kirkpatrick of NSync at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards. (Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for MTV) (Kevin Mazur via Getty Images)

Their appearance sent fans into ’90s nostalgia overdrive, hoping the group would announce a reunion tour or a new album together.

Days later, fans got to hear “Better Place” in the trailer for Trolls Band Together. The single in full was released Sept. 29 and marked the first time the fivesome released new music since 2001.

NSync members weren’t the only former musical partners Timberlake reteamed with that month. He also released “Keep Going Up” with Timbaland and Furtado. The song marked the first time the trio has collaborated together since 2007’s “Give It to Me.”

Timbaland also teased an upcoming album from the trio in an interview with Entertainment Tonight.

“This [‘Keep Going Up’] sets you up for everything JT and Nelly about to do,” he told the outlet. “I went to Justin doing a rehearsal, I said, ‘A fan said we should do album.’ He’s like, ‘You know what, we should.’ And that’s in the works.”

He also mentioned that an album could happen “ASAP.”

October 2023

Britney Spears published her memoir, The Woman in Me, in which she detailed her relationship with Timberlake, which spanned from 1999 to 2002. During that time, she wrote, she became pregnant with his baby and had an abortion. She also accused Timberlake of cheating on her.

Timberlake laid low amid the book’s press cycle. A source close to the singer told Entertainment Tonight that he was “focusing on his own family trying not to concern himself with Britney’s memoir.”

Once the book was officially released on Oct. 24, the Daily Mail published photos of Timberlake and his family, including wife Jessica Biel, arriving in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, for a vacation.

Meanwhile, the soundtrack Trolls Band Together was released digitally on Oct. 20. Timberlake served as executive producer.

November 2023

Timberlake stepped out with his NSync bandmates to celebrate the release of the new Trolls animated film and their hit single. They attended the Trolls Band Together U.S. premiere in Los Angeles on Nov. 15.

From left: Lance Bass, JC Chasez, Chris Kirkpatrick, Justin Timberlake and Joey Fatone of NSync arrive for the premiere of Trolls Band Together.
NSync at the premiere of Trolls Band Together at the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles. (Valerie Macon/AFP via Getty Images) (VALERIE MACON via Getty Images)

December 2023

In December, Timberlake performed in Las Vegas, headlining the invite-only opening of the Fontainebleau Las Vegas. He performed a set of his hits to a crowd of A-listers that included Cher, Tom Brady, Kim Kardashian and Lenny Kravitz.

Biel was also there, applauding, singing along and dancing while her hubby played some of his biggest tracks, including “Like I Love You,” “Suit & Tie” and “Cry Me a River.”

Justin Timberlake performing at the Fontainebleau Las Vegas grand opening celebration.
Timberlake performing at the Fontainebleau Las Vegas grand opening celebration. (Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for Fontainebleau Las Vegas) (Bryan Steffy via Getty Images)

Before the singer began the breakup revenge anthem off his 2002 solo debut album, Justified,he told the crowd, “No disrespect.” The song was long believed to be about his split with Spears.

January 2024

Timberlake’s voice accompanied an ESPN commercial earlier this month for the NFL playoffs.

Since the spot was released, fans have taken to social media to speculate when they can expect to hear the song in full and whether it signals a new Timberlake era.

Timberlake’s website has been highlighting his latest moves. As of Thursday afternoon, it showcased a bright yellow background promoting his “one night only” show in Memphis on Jan. 19.

On Jan. 18. Billboard reported that the “Can’t Stop the Feeling” singer was booked as an upcoming guest on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. He’ll appear on the Jan. 25 episode.

He'll also be the musical guest on the Jan. 27 episode of Saturday Night Live. It could be the perfect opportunity for him to announce a new project.

Editor's note: This story was updated to include Timberlake's upcoming appearance on Saturday Night Live.