Pop superstar Justin Timberlake made his solo debut 15 years ago at the MTV Video Music Awards on Aug. 29, 2002. He rose to prominence as one of the faces of *NSYNC in the late '90s before the group went on a hiatus in April 2002. For his first time alone on stage, Timberlake debuted "Like I Love You," which was the beginning of many multiple hits to come. Justin is one of the few acts from a band to go onto a successful solo career. Across three studio albums (one of them split into two parts), he's sonically and artistically grown up with each one, progressing from pop star into full-fledged musician. Here's a look back at Timberlake's top 10 singles.
10. "Love Never Felt So Good" / Xscape (2014)
Timberlake teamed up with his late music idol Michael Jackson on 2014's "Love Never Felt So Good." Backed by breezy disco-pop that recalled Jackson's early days, the two pop juggernauts laid the love on thick with charming performances. Though Justin played second string to Michael, his swagger helped bring the revitalized '80s gem into the new century.
9. "Can't Stop the Feeling!" / Trolls (2016)
Timberlake reunited with *NSYNC producer Max Martin on last year's "Can't Stop the Feeling!" The two bottled up pure pop euphoria into nearly four minutes of music. The smile on Justin's face came through the speakers as he crooned, "I got that sunshine in my pocket / I got that good soul in my feet." The feeling was feel good and incredibly infectious.
8. "Like I Love You" / Justified (2002)
Timberlake linked up with Pharrell Williams' The Neptunes and Clipse for "Like I Love You," his daring debut solo single. He crossed over from boybander to R&B bad boy atop Spanish guitar and hip-hop beats. "Don't fear me, baby," Timberlake said at the intro. "It's just Justin." Another Justin, Bieber, later swagger-jacked the song for his "Boyfriend" single.
7. "Rock Your Body" / Justified (2002)
The Neptunes came through with a club banger on "Rock Your Body," Timberlake's disco-fied dance track. Over glowing beats, Justin worked his magic on the lady of his eye. His invitation to the dance floor was slick and irresistible. "Better have you naked by the end of this song," Timberlake wagered. "Body" was his best bet.
6. "Drink You Away" / The 20/20 Experience - 2 of 2 (2013)
"Drink You Away" gained notoriety following Timberlake's show-stopping performance of it at the 2015 Country Music Awards with Chris Stapleton. The song itself was a rare moment for Memphis native Justin embracing his Southern roots and going the country-rock route. On the gritty tune, Justin mixed drinks with heartache, yielding soulfully intoxicating results.
5. "Suit & Tie" / The 20/20 Experience (2013)
After a lengthy break, a more mature Timberlake returned in 2013 with the snazzy "Suit & Tie" featuring Jay-Z. Horns and effervescent production created vintage vibes as Justin unveiled his smooth operator side. "As long as I got my suit and tie / Imma leave it all on the floor tonight," he crooned. Timberlake put it down old school with one of his most timeless tunes.
4. "SexyBack" / FutureSex/LoveSounds (2006)
Timberlake and Timbaland unleashed an electronic freak of nature with 2006's "Sexyback," which flexed Justin's sex appeal. Any shred of his teen pop past was incinerated by the frenetic beats and forward come-ons. "If that's your girl, better watch your back," Timberlake warned with distorted vocals. The rabid pop romp made for quite the comeback.
3. "LoveStoned/I Think She Knows" / FutureSex/LoveSounds (2006)
On FutureSex/LoveSounds, Timberlake first experimented with blending songs and interludes into pop suites. The sweetest was "LoveStoned/I Think She Knows," which opened with funky beats and Justin confident in pulling in another girl. As the track progressed, atmospheric guitar revealed a vulnerable Timberlake caught in awe of her. "LoveStoned" was an absolute stunner.
2. "Mirrors" / The 20/20 Experience (2013)
Timberlake got emotional about his wife Jessica Biel on 2013's "Mirrors." On the synth-layered ballad, a then newly married Justin showered her with beautiful words. "Baby, you're the inspiration for this precious song / And I just wanna see your face light up since you put me on," he sang. Timberlake was overjoyed with love on the towering and triumphant track.
1. "Cry Me a River" / Justified (2002)
Timberlake turned one of the most publicized breakups in pop music into a hell of a revenge song with 2002's "Cry Me a River." Following his split from Britney Spears, Justin channeled all his heartbreak into fiery lyrics. Backed by Timbaland's twisted and cinematic sounds, he sang, "The bridges were burned / Now it's your turn to cry." Timberlake's boldest moment became his artistic breakthrough.