'Filthy' Brings Justin Timberlake Back to Pop Songs Airplay Chart

Ryan McGinley
Justin Timberlake

The "super-experimental" song launches at No. 23, marking the highest debut for a male artist since 2015.

Justin Timberlake blasts back onto Billboard's Pop Songs radio airplay chart, as "Filthy" launches at No. 23 (on the tally dated Jan. 13).

The song is the lead single from Timberlake's first album in over four years, Man of the Woods, due Feb. 2. Two days later, Timberlake will perform at the Super Bowl LII Halftime Show.

"Filthy" starts with three days of airplay (in the week ending Jan. 7), following its arrival at midnight ET Jan. 5.

The Pop Songs chart, which began in 1992 (and recently celebrated its 25th anniversary), measures total weekly plays, as tabulated by Nielsen Music, among its reporting panel of 161 mainstream top 40 stations.

"Filthy" logs the highest Pop Songs debut since Taylor Swift's "Look What You Made Me Do," the lead single from her latest album, Reputation, bounded in at No. 21 on Sept. 9, 2017; the song went on to top the Oct. 28-dated chart. No song by a solo male (in a lead role) had begun at a higher spot since The Weeknd's "Can't Feel My Face" (No. 19, June 27, 2015; it eventually reigned for four weeks).

"Filthy" is Timberlake's first Pop Songs entry since 2016's "Can't Stop the Feeling!" The track debuted at No. 24 and topped the chart for three weeks, becoming his eighth solo No. 1; he and Bruno Mars boast the most leaders among male soloists.

Whereas "Feeling" spotlights one of Timberlake's most overt hooks, pop programmers are comparing "Filthy" to his initially genre-challenging 2006 smash "SexyBack," his second Pop Songs No. 1 and the lead single from his second album, FutureSex/LoveSounds.

"Let's not forget that when he released 'SexyBack,' it was unique, new and different, and it didn't start off with a warm reception," says WHTZ (Z100) New York program director Mark Medina. "Today, we could argue it's his biggest song.

"I think 'Filthy' is great for top 40. It's a bit different, and that's entirely by design. When we sat with Justin to hear the album, he made it clear that one of the primary goals of this project is to break molds and push the envelope on music."

"Filthy" is "super-experimental, but, thinking back, wasn't 'SexyBack' experimental, too? Look how that wound up," concurs WBBM (B96) Chicago assistant PD/music director Erik Bradley.

"'Filthy' feels much like 'SexyBack': a bit of uncertainty initially, but, with time and exposure, it's going to connect. I would never, ever bet against Justin. We need his super-duper stardom to continue to be a beacon at pop radio."

"Filthy" also arrives at No. 24 on the Adult Pop Songs chart (which reflects airplay on 85 reporting adult top 40 stations). All charts will update tomorrow (Jan. 9) on Billboard.com.

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