That's the approach." He was "keen for a new musical direction" following the release of his first album, Justified. Everything's [sic] got so repetitive, everything sounds the same. 'Sex Machine' is the closest reference." In addition, he admitted that the song was not going to be titled "Sexy Back", saying, "We weren't originally going to call it 'Sexy Back'."I listened to the radio for a few months and thought, 'All this sounds like shit, what do I want to hear? I had to create something unique otherwise there's no point putting it out." "Justin [Timberlake] goes in the chorus 'Go head be gone with it', I called the song 'Be Gone With It', just to label it. I definitely didn't think it would become the most worn-out phrase of 2006.The music video was filmed in June 2006; Timberlake decided to work with director Michael Haussman based on the latter's work on Madonna's 1994 music video "Take a Bow".Hills played the Akai MPC3000 and other virtual synths on his Macintosh computer, while Timbaland performed instruments on the Ensoniq ASR-10 sampling keyboard.The song was written and produced by Nate Hills, Tim Mosley, and Timberlake himself.Discussing "Sexy Back", Timberlake revealed that he went "left", singing the song in a rock style, not an R&B style. The instrumentation used in the song includes a pounding bass beat, electronic chords, and drum machine sounds.
In addition, the song won Timberlake the People's Choice Award for Favorite R&B song and the Male Artist of the Year at the 2007 MTV Video Music Awards.The single debuted at number 90 on the Billboard Hot 100 in July 2006.After climbing to number 31, it propelled to number one the following week.Glenn Gamboa of Newsday was complimentary towards the song, writing that it was "Timberlake at his best, mainstreaming a combination of the wild, edgy dance-pop style of Basement Jaxx with Missy Elliott's more experimental hip-hop to create a boldly inventive sound that still pleases the masses." Kelefa Sanneh of The New York Times wrote: "...'Sexy Back', a twitchy, emaciated track that shot to the top of the charts and also became an irritating catchphrase.(Suddenly everyone was bringing Adjective Back.)" Dagny Salas of North by Northwestern commented that Timberlake and Timbaland trade ridiculous lines, with "Get your sexy on/Go ahead, be gone with it" and "Dirty babe/You see these shackles/Baby I’m your slave/I’ll let you whip me if I misbehave." Salas continued in her review that it was not a song that should be good, "but does that really matter when it’s good in the way that songs are during the summer [...] That kind of good makes songs like 'Sexy Back' completely irresistible." Matt Burns of The Post wrote, "Take the polarizing summer single 'Sexy Back', a repetitive song with little structure that doesn't know when to stop, all centered on a ridiculous declaration."Sexy Back" was certified three-times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and three-times platinum by Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA).