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‘It’s Gonna Be May’: Why the Justin Timberlake meme became so popular

  • April 30, 2021

It’s almost May, which means one thing: You are likely going to see a lot of pictures of Justin Timberlake.

As April ticks away, just as the flowers bloom and the temperatures warm, the face of the pop singer increasingly populates our social media feeds through GIFs and images accompanied by four words: “It’s Gonna Be May.”

The springtime meme has been around for years and has even morphed into other forms. But how exactly did it get started? Here’s what you should know about the “It’s Gonna Be May” meme:

What is the meme about?

It originates from the music video for Timberlake’s former group, NSYNC, called “It’s Gonna Be Me.” Timberlake’s singing is notable here because of the way he pronounces “me” in the song, which sounds like “May.”

In some cases, fans of the meme will share it as a GIF direct from the music video, or using images of Timberlake from his NSYNC days with the caption “It’s Gonna Be May.” 

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How did it get started?

According to Know Your Meme, which tracks viral content posted online, a Tumblr blog posted an image in March 2012 showing a calendar opened to the month of April. At the end of the month was an attached image of Timberlake with the caption “It’s Gonna Be May.”

The website said the following month, a five-second YouTube video was posted with the image of Timberlake and an audio clip of him singing “Guess what? It’s gonna be me.”

What are you really looking for on your phone?

In 2019, appliance company Maytag ran an ad campaign featuring the meme, with the tagline “It’s Gonna Be Maytag.”

On Spotify, under its NSYNC Essentials playlist, it uses both “It’s Gonna Be Me” and “It’s Gonna Be May” as the title for the song.

What does Justin Timberlake think?

He appears to be a fan. During a 2016 interview with UK radio station Capital FM, Timberlake said he sang it that way at the direction of the song’s co-writer, Max Martin.

“I think he just wanted me to sound like I was from Tennessee,” said Timberlake.

He’s also shared the meme himself on social media. Last year, Timberlake posted a coronavirus-friendly version of the meme, which shows his younger self wearing a mask.

Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.

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