Timberlake described "SexyBack" as "an experiment gone right from the sort of synthesizer influence to the distorted vocals", adding that it was "one of the songs that the more you listen to it its just hook after hook after hook. Its just one of those 'flow off the top of your head' tracks, in terms of melody. We wanted to keep it loose and not too rehearsed, it's one of those very experimental records though. " Timberlake revealed that he went "left", regarding going more rock, not in how he developed the song, but in the way he sang the song. "I wanted to sing the song like a rock and roll singer, not an R&B singer. That's the approach. " The day before recording, Timberlake and Timbaland had listened to David Bowie's "Rebel Rebel" and the Rapture's "House of Jealous Lovers". Timberlake wanted to achieve the songs' "raw energy". Timberlake said that he modeled himself on Bowie and Prince, and described the song as Bowie and David Byrne "covering" James Brown's 1970 song "Sex Machine". Timberlake said that the song "doesn't qualify as rock or straight funk" and that he was happy with the description "club funk". He was "keen for a new musical direction" following the release of his first album, Justified. "I listened to the radio for a few months and thought, 'All this sounds like shit, what do I want to hear?'. That's really all I did. Everything's [sic] got so repetitive, everything sounds the same. I had to create something unique otherwise there's no point putting it out. "