Tunnel Vision (song)

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"Tunnel Vision"
A black-and-white close-up of a man's face within a naked woman's silhouette. With golden letters within the covers the words 'JT' and 'Tunnel Vision' are written.
Single by Justin Timberlake
from the album The 20/20 Experience
Released June 14, 2013 (2013-06-14)
Format Digital download
Genre R&B
  • 6:47 (album version)
  • 4:45 (radio edit)
Label RCA
  • Timbaland
  • Justin Timberlake
  • Jerome "J-Roc" Harmon
Justin Timberlake singles chronology
"Tunnel Vision" "Holy Grail"

"Tunnel Vision" is a song recorded by American singer-songwriter Justin Timberlake for his third studio album, The 20/20 Experience (2013). It was written and produced by Timberlake, Timothy "Timbaland" Mosley, and Jerome "J-Roc" Harmon, with additional writing from James Fauntleroy. "Tunnel Vision" was digitally released on June 14, 2013, by RCA Records, as the third single from the album. It is a mid-tempo R&B song with EDM influences and instrumentation that features beats characterized by Timbaland's ad-libs, vocal record-scratches, heavy drums, bass melodies, wide-ranging orchestrations and synths. In the song's lyrics, Timberlake proclaims that he has a tunnel vision for his love interest and uses several voyeuristic references.

"Tunnel Vision" received generally positive reviews from music critics, most of whom praised Timbaland's production. Critics also cited "Tunnel Vision" as its record's highlight. After the album's release, it appeared on the charts in South Korea and the United States because of high digital sales. The song debuted on the singles chart in South Korea at number 27 and sold 6,670 digital copies in its first week. It also peaked at number 40 on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. It was successful on the UK R&B Singles Chart where it peaked at number eight.

The music video for "Tunnel Vision" was directed by Jonathan Craven, Simon McLoughlin, and Jeff Nicholas, and premiered on July 3 on Timberlake's Vevo channel. In the seven-minute video, Timberlake and Timbaland watch nude women and perform choreographed dances. Critics labeled the video as NSFW and drew strong comparisons to the visual for Robin Thicke's 2013 single "Blurred Lines". Although it was originally banned from YouTube, the video for "Tunnel Vision" was shortly reinstated with the condition that viewers are required to confirm their age. The song was part of the set list for Timberlake's joint concert tour with rapper Jay-Z, Legends of the Summer (2013), and his fifth solo tour titled The 20/20 Experience World Tour (2013–14).

Production and release[edit]

An African-American man is wearing headphones while performing
Timbaland co-wrote and co-produced "Tunnel Vision".

"Tunnel Vision" was written by Justin Timberlake, Timothy "Timbaland" Mosley, Jerome "J-Roc" Harmon, and James Fauntleroy, and produced by Timbaland, Timberlake, and Harmon. Timberlake arranged and produced his vocals, which were recorded at Larabee Studios in North Hollywood, California. Other instrumentalists on the song were Harmon, who played on keyboards, and Elliot Ives, who played guitar. The song was engineered by Chris Godbey, who was assisted by Alejandro Baima, and mixed by Jimmy Douglass, Godbey and Timberlake at Larabee Studios.[1]

On June 10, 2013, Timberlake revealed the artwork for the song's release as a single. It features a black-and-white close-up of the singer's face within a naked woman's silhouette.[2][3] Kia Macarechi of The Huffington Post found the artwork somewhat unpleasant and unusual,[4] while Official Charts Company's Justin Myers remarked that Timberlake "seems to be playing up to his naughty nickname of Trousersnake with the cover".[5] Zach Dionne of New York's Vulture criticized the cover and called it "awful boobnose single art" that commits to "the smoky naked woman vibe".[6] "Tunnel Vision", along with its radio edit, was digitally released in France and Italy on June 14 via Amazon.[7][8] The same day, the single was released in Australia,[9] Belgium,[10] Luxembourg,[11] The Netherlands,[12] New Zealand,[13] and Sweden via 7 Digital.[14] "Tunnel Vision" was released on June 17 in Norway,[15] and the next day in Spain, while on June 21, it was launched in Switzerland.[16]

Composition and lyrical interpretation[edit]

A sample of "Tunnel Vision", a mid-tempo[17] R&B song with EDM influences[18] that features "fizzing" beats assisted by the producer's ad-libs, vocal record-scratches, heavy drums, "syncopated backbone amidst frenetically shifting bass melodies", wide-ranging orchestrations and "vacuous" synths that all connect into "fuzzed out boom-bap".[19][20]

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Tunnel Vision" is a mid-tempo[17] R&B song with EDM influences.[18] The instrumentation, produced by Timbaland, is vintage and features "fizzing" beats assisted by the producer's ad-libs, vocal record-scratches, heavy drums, "syncopated backbone amidst frenetically shifting bass melodies", wide-ranging orchestrations and "vacuous" synths that all connect into "fuzzed out boom-bap".[19][20] Ryan Dombal of Pitchfork Media called the song's synths "sinister",[21] while Slant Magazine's Eric Henderson wrote that it contains Middle Eastern tones.[22] According to Joey Guerra of the Houston Chronicle, the beats and vocal loops on "Tunnel Vision" are reminiscent of Timbaland's past work with late American singer Aaliyah.[23] According to Sarah Dean of The Huffington Post, its beat is similar to the one of 50 Cent's 2007 single "Ayo Technology", which also featured Timberlake.[24]

"Tunnel Vision" features "thrilling" evolution on both, the detailed production and the arrangement which falls exactly at right time with Timberlake's vocals.[19] The unusual and sharp changes that the song features enjoin the track together as it ebbs and veers through its running.[25] Due to its similarity, "Tunnel Vision" borrows the "dark alley" rhythm of the third track on the album "Don't Hold the Wall"; on the song, Timberlake sings in his lower register which spreads out an "exciting" upward arpeggio.[26] Simultaneously, Timbaland uses Timberlake's voice as a "flexible instrument to enhance his tech savvy soundscape"[27] as he constructs "layers of production elements into towers of sonic force."[28] Lauren Martin of Fact regarded the song as a start to Timbaland's "Bollywood influenced 'Indian Flute' era" and a teasing element that features Timberlake's voice redistributed with wider range and suspense.[29]

In the song's lyrics, Timberlake proclaims that he has a tunnel vision for his love interest and uses several voyeuristic references.[21][30] Timberlake professes his love for the subject of the song: "I look around and everything I see is beautiful, because all I see is you."[24] Dean remarked that Timberlake is in happier state of mind than on his 2002 song "Cry Me a River" or his 2007 single "What Goes Around... Comes Around".[24] Timberlake's lyrics also express an obsessive attraction to his love interest: "A million people in a crowded room, but my camera lens is only set to zoom and it all becomes so clear."[31] Mellisa Maerz of Entertainment Weekly wrote that on "Tunnel Vision", Timberlake is "playing the rom-com director", particular in the lyric "Just like a movie shoot, I’m zoomin’ in on you as we ride off into the sun."[32] According to Mikael Wood of Los Angeles Times, Timberlake uses references to "cameras and reflective surfaces" to reflect on the "changing nature of celebrity".[33]

Critical response[edit]

In a review of The 20/20 Experience, Jean Bentley of The Hollywood Reporter called both "Tunnel Vision" and "Strawberry Bubblegum" the album's "electro-tinged jams".[17] Consequence of Sound's Sarah H. Grant wrote that the song, along with "Don't Hold the Wall", is the album's highlight and sounds similar to his best work with 'N Sync.[26] Clyde Erwin Barretto of Prefix Magazine praised the production, which he felt can excite listeners.[34] Dean of The Huffington Post labeled it as her favorite track on the album.[24] Spin magazine's Jordan Sargent wrote that with the song, Timbaland proves that he can still produce otherworldly beats.[35] Kitty Empire of The Guardian said that Timbaland has rejuvenated his production talents and added "Kanye-calibre ambition".[36]

In a less enthusiastic review, Brad Stern of MTV Buzzworthy dismissed the song as "the album's most tediously grating moment".[31] Although he praised the beat on the track, Allan Raible of ABC News believed that it would fit better on another song that has less "tired 'loverman' clichés."[37] Fact magazine's Lauren Martin described the song, along with "Don't Hold the Wall", as "two rousing, if mildly deja vu inducing, efforts."[29] Jed Gottlieb of the Boston Herald said that the "electro bump" of the song would have sounded innovative had it been released a year ago.[38]

Commercial performance[edit]

Following the release of The 20/20 Experience, "Tunnel Vision" sold well digitally and appeared on several national singles charts. In the week of March 17, 2013, the song debuted on the South Korea Gaon International Chart at number 27 and sold 6,670 digital copies.[39] Although it did not enter the Billboard Hot 100, "Tunnel Vision" peaked at number 11 on the Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart in the United States.[40] It also peaked at number 40 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.[41] After its release as a single, the song debuted and peaked at number 75 on the Irish Singles Chart.[42] In the week of July 20, "Tunnel Vision" debuted at number 64 on the UK Singles Chart.[43] Its chart position fluctuated for three weeks, but it ultimately peaked at number 61 on August 10.[44] It was most successful on the UK R&B Singles Chart where it debuted at number 15.[45] By the week of August 10, "Tunnel Vision" had peaked at number eight on the chart.[46]

Music video[edit]

Conception and fashion[edit]

Silhouettes of three women on which a man's face is projected
A screenshot from the music video on which Timberlake's face is projected on the women's nude bodies

The music video for "Tunnel Vision" premiered on July 3, 2013, via Timberlake's Vevo channel on YouTube.[47] Subsequently, Timberlake wrote on his official Twitter account, "Check out the new video for Tunnel Vision and be ready...it's explicit. -teamJT".[48] It was directed by Jonathan Craven, Simon McLoughlin, and Jeff Nicholas, and featured a cameo appearance by Timbaland.[49] Craven and Nathan Scherrer served as the video producers for Uprising Creative. The director of photography was Sing Howe Yam, while Jacquelyn London edited the video for Sunset Edit.[50]

The video is seven minutes long and shows Timberlake and Timbaland as they stare at three naked women. According to Jason Lipshutz of Billboard, the women are clothed solely in flesh-colored g-strings. In some shots during the video, Timberlake's face is projected upon the bare bodies of the three women.[51] Jordan Sargent of Spin said that the set pieces in which projections of Timberlake interact with the nude dancers represent "a fractured dynamic that mirrors 'Tunnel Vision' itself".[52]

Regarding the fashion Timberlake wears during the video, Cinya Burton of E! wrote, "Apparently when Justin Timberlake isn't in his now-signature suit and tie getup, he's donning AllSaints." For his presentation in the video, the singer wore two head-to-toe looks by the latter brand. The first one is a gray Baxley V-neck T-shirt which was layered under a white Redono half sleeved shirt, accompanied by a casual pair of Charge Chino pants. For his second look, Timberlake was featured with a darker combination while he dances in front of a lighter background. He sports a simple black Resident Crew T-shirt, dark gray Pipe Chino pants, a Duncan denim shirt and black Trap boots. Burton further noticed that "while his ensembles are both dapper", the nude models in the video still make the headlines.[53]

Critical response and ban[edit]

After its release, the video was shortly banned from YouTube with an accompanying message saying, "This video has been removed as a violation of YouTube's policy on nudity or sexual content". However, the site quickly reinstated the video with a content warning and requiring viewers to sign in to confirm their age. A representative of YouTube did not want to comment on individual videos; however, he issued a statement, saying, "While our guidelines generally prohibit nudity, we make exceptions when it is presented in an educational, documentary or artistic context, and take care to add appropriate warnings and age restrictions."[48]

A Caucasian man wearing glasses is smilling
Critics have heavily compared the video for "Tunnel Vision" to the one for "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke

Critics have labeled the video as NSFW and heavily compared it to the music video for "Blurred Lines" (2013) by Robin Thicke featuring Pharrell Williams and T.I..[50][51] In an interview with Capital FM, Thicke was asked what he thinks about the similarity between the videos on which he responded, "No comment. I'll let you do all the talking. It's a subject that has no good ending."[54] Fact magazine described the concept of the video as simple and further wrote that the team behind it didn't worry much about it.[55] Spin's Sargent concluded, "Like his new album The 20/20 Experience, in which half the songs run longer than seven minutes, the 'Tunnel Vision' video is self-consciously artistic and mature. But the video is also at times effective, particularly when the editing gets choppier during the bridge."[52]

Regarding the nude women in the video, a reviewer of MTV UK wrote that Timberlake drew on Thicke's video.[56] Similarly, The Huffington Post's Dean wrote that Timberlake used a tip from Thicke so he can accompany a "great" song with a video that objectifies women, who according to her enjoy dancing naked to the song's lyrics. However, she criticized the concept of using three women when the song's lyrics speak about a single love interest.[57] Tamar Anitai of MTV Buzzworthy wrote that maybe the concept of the video the way the singer wants to live his life and celebrate the success of his album. She further concluded, "Oh, come on! Don't complain. You bitched and moaned endlessly when Justin Timberlake stopped making music for six years, so don't get all Veruca Salty when he comes back with boobs to spare and boobs to share."[58]

In a review of the video, Rachel Maresca of New York Daily News wrote that Timberlake blurred some of the explicit lyrics of the song in its music video.[59] Kathy McCabe of News Corp Australia stated that with the video, the singer has escalated the pop porn movement, "With mummy blogger outrage over Robin Thicke's exploitation of topless women for his Blurred Lines video – and its questionable lyrics – still raging, Timberlake has gone even further in his clip."[60] McCabe further noted that the male pop singers have been recently influenced by the antics of Rihanna and Katy Perry who according to her, both have "stripped down in the name of a hit. Or art. Or freedom of expression, depending on the press release spin."[60] Clash's Robin Murray noted that pop music has lacked raunchiness and sex appeal for a while so that's why according to him the return of Timberlake was needed, "Lavish, lush and 21st century in a direct, shocking fashion, the video finds Justin Timberlake on perfect preening form."[61]

Live performances[edit]

Timberlake performed "Tunnel Vision" at the Phoenix Park concert in Dublin, Ireland. The set list also included some of his previous songs, including "Cry Me a River", "SexyBack", and "My Love".[62] In a review of the concert, John Balfe of entertainment.ie wrote that, "Even the album's more well-known songs like 'Tunnel Vision', 'Mirrors' and 'Suit & Tie' don't yet have the same weight in the setlist as some of JT's more established hits and it was songs like 'SexyBack' that really got the 40,000 strong crowd to move."[63] On July 12, Timberlake performed on the main stage at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford, London as part of the Wireless Festival. He performed "Tunnel Vision", among other songs, while dressed in black and sporting a black fedora hat.[64] The song was included on the set list of Timberlake's joint tour with rapper Jay-Z titled Legends of the Summer Stadium Tour (2013).[65] Additionally, the singer performed the song on the concerts of his fifth worldwide tour entitled The 20/20 Experience World Tour (2013–14).[66]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Tunnel Vision" (Radio Edit) — 4:45
  2. "Tunnel Vision" — 6:46


Credits are adapted from the liner notes of The 20/20 Experience.[1]

  • Vocals recorded and mixed at Larrabee Studios, North Hollywood, California
  • Timothy "Timbaland" Mosley – producer, songwriter
  • Justin Timberlake – mixer, producer, songwriter, vocal producer, vocal arranger
  • Jerome "J-Roc" Harmon – keyboards, producer, songwriter
  • James Fauntleroy – songwriter
  • Chris Godbey – engineer, mixer
  • Jimmy Douglass – mixer
  • Alejandro Baima – assistant engineer
  • Elliot Ives – guitar


Chart (2013) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[67] 63
Australia Urban (ARIA)[68] 12
Belgium (Ultratip Flanders)[69] 49
Belgium (Ultratop Flanders Urban)[69] 42
Ireland (IRMA)[42] 75
Lebanon (The Official Lebanese Top 20)[70] 16
South Korea (Gaon International Chart)[39] 27
Ukraine (FDR Pop Singles Chart)[71] 9
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[44] 61
UK R&B (Official Charts Company)[46] 8
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)[72] 11
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)[41] 40
US Pop Digital Songs (Billboard)[73] 46

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Label
Australia[9] June 14, 2013 Digital download Sony
New Zealand[13]
Norway[15] June 17, 2013
Spain[16] June 18, 2013
Switzerland[16] June 21, 2013
United Kingdom[78] June 26, 2013 Contemporary hit radio RCA


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External links[edit]