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Even amidst a slew of hook-up and gratuitous sexual references, the Top 100 in Popular Music is not without its saving graces—and this week’s Number 11 (“Mirrors” by Justin Timberlake) surprisingly has some worthwhile romantic notions. I say “surprisingly” because, after all, Justin Timberlake’s not exactly the go-to guy for meaningful romantic songs (“Sexy Back” and “Lovestoned” come to mind as not-so-shining examples) so it’s a surprise to hear something like this come out of him. At first glance of the lyrics, it seems to be a pretty standard love ballad to be crooned over a romantic candlelit dinner in order to handily impress your girlfriend. The melody itself is pretty typical for Timberlake—a syncopated pop beat that’s undeniably catchy, but ultimately unoriginal in the music sphere. That would normally be the end of it, except the music video to “Mirrors” reveals something a little deeper and certainly worth noticing.
The music video begins with a dedication: “For William and Sadie.” The music video’s key characters are an old man and woman, who appear to “mirror” each other’s actions as the woman reminisces on how they met, their eventual marriage, and the good and hard times which followed. It’s surprising, because these two (and their younger counterparts) are the main stars of the music video, with the aim of the video clearly being to track their devotion to one another. Justin doesn’t even make an appearance in the video until five and a half minutes in, when the old woman drops her wedding ring for Justin to catch and he proceeds to explain that he says “goodbye to the old me, it’s already gone.”
There’s no question that the lyrics are directed to Justin’s new wife, Jessica Biel. As to whom William and Sadie are— that mystery is solved after a little further research. They’re his grandparents and they were married for 63 years before William passed on. That makes the music video even more emotional, taking into consideration that the entire thing is told from the woman’s point of view and now it can be seen as her reflecting on cherished memories of her dearly departed husband.
By Justin catching the wedding ring of his grandmother, he’s clearly looking to continue the legacy and make his marriage stand the test of time. Again, this is fairly standard “love story” material, yet coming from a pop star in an otherwise sex-saturated environment that glorifies the hook-up culture, it becomes a meaningful tip of the hat to the kind of all-enduring love that really matters and the only kind that should be emulated.