JT Wrote "Gone" For A Pop Legend

“I’ve never told anybody that Michael [Jackson] story," Justin Timberlake says during his Oprah Presents Master Class interview. Now that's how you kick off a segment. Consider my interest PIQUED. The story: Timberlake wrote “Gone” for Jackson, but his team rejected the song. So, Timberlake recorded it with ’N Sync. And then:

I guess Michael did hear it, and called me on the phone and said that he wanted to cut the record, but he wanted it to be a duet between himself and I. And I said, 'Well, it's already out, we've already cut the song as an 'N Sync record ... could we do, like, an 'N Sync 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.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Timberlake wrote “Gone” for Jackson. Jackson’s people turned it down. 'N Sync recorded "Gone." Jackson later asked to do “Gone” as a duet. Timberlake was like, “Sorry, King of Pop. My group already recorded it.” And Jackson was like, “MJ/JT or bust.” WHOA.

While the MJ/JT “Gone” duet never transpired, Timberlake says all of this gave him the confidence to consider doing his own thing. WHOAAAAAAAAA.

This is the sort of reveal I live for. 1) Writing that song for MJ planted the "goin' solo" seed, 2) "Gone" could've been an MJ song, and 3) "Gone" could've been an MJ/JT song. I'll be chewin' on those morsels for a few days.

As any 'N Sync fan will tell you, "Gone" foreshadowed Timberlake eventually striking out on his own. As if the name of the song wasn't enough, Timberlake tackled 85 percent of the vocals (okay, that number might be off. Math has never been my strong suit). The almost-solo is one of Celebrity's best songs. A standout. And it was Timberlake's song. A solo career not only seemed feasible, but it seemed like an obvious move. The next year, Timberlake released Justified, and 'N Sync was "Gone." The MJ detail adds a very interesting layer to the "Gone"/JT solo career origin story. The King of Pop hath spoken.

What would've a "Gone" MJ/JT duet been like? I say it would've been beautiful. How dare anyone think otherwise! Here's how I reached my conclusion:

  1. I listened to "Love Never Felt So Good," the new Jackson and Timberlake duet.I love, love, love "Love Never Felt So Good." It feels so good. If a creature from another dimension wormhole’d over to our dimension and asked for an example of an upbeat pop song, I’d feel like I was doing the right thing if I steered it in the direction of that track.This record proves that MJ and JT's voices work together. The first time I listened to "Love Never Felt So Good," I thought, It's a bummer these two can't record an entire album.
  2. I listened to "Gone." What a gorgeous song.
  3. Michael "King of Pop" Jackson. Period.

According to basic song math logic (I know I said math wasn't my bag. Shhhhh): Two voices that work incredibly well together plus a gorgeous song plus the King of Pop factor would generate beautiful results. Don't fight my song math logic.

The Oprah Presents Master Class Timberlake interview will premiere May 11 on OWN. Here's a clip from the Timberlake interview (and some excellent commentary from Lance Bass) to hold ya over: