Justin Timberlake’s “Mirrors” Lyrics Analysis: JT’s Recognition of His Soul’s Counterpoint
Posted by Lyricson 02/16/2013 at 10:00 AM
No less an authority on romance than Owen Wilson’s character from Wedding Crashers—John Beckwith, for you Frat Pack superfans out there—once said that true love was “your soul’s recognition of its counterpoint in another.” (He read it on a bumper sticker and now uses it to pick up vulnerable bridesmaids.) In other words, true love is when you find the person whose soul seems to be the perfect match to yours, intertwining like a perfect musical harmony, different but complementary however the specific fit.
But another authority on the matter or romance—Jerry Seinfeld, or the fictional version of himself he played on his eponymous sitcom—had another discovery about romance, at least briefly, after falling in love with a woman who shares a virtually identical personality to himself, down to sharing the same initials. “Now I know what I’ve been looking for all these years—myself!” he rhapsodizes to Kramer after their first encounter. “I’ve been waiting for me to come along, and now I’ve swept myself off my feet!”
Justin Timberlake’s “Mirrors” is kind of a blend of these two ideas of love, though probably closer in the end to the Crashers notion. While “Suit & Tie,” the first song released from Timberlake’s upcoming 20/20 Experience album, was deemed “wedding music” by many publications for its crowd-pleasing hooks and positive, celebratory vibe, “Mirrors” is wedding music in a more literal sense—the song is very clearly a loving ode to his recent bride Jessica Biel, down to an extended outro repeatedly proclaiming “You are, you are / The love of my life” and JT explaining “You’re the inspiration for this precious song.”
And how does Timberlake view his celebrity wife? Well, essentially, as himself—a reflection of himself, at least. The words “reflection” and “mirror” pop up in basically every verse and chorus to the song, driving the point home to an almost oppressive degree that JT sees himself in the eyes his new bride. “It’s like you’re my mirror / My mirror staring back at me,” he sings in the pivotal line of the chorus. “I couldn’t get any bigger / With anyone else beside me.”
It’s tempting to write this sentiment off as typical super-celebrity vanity, especially for a pop star as trasnparently cocky as Justin Timberlake, since taken at face value, the lyrics sorta sound like he loves his wife because he can see so much of himself in her. (“Oh, so you married a mirror? Guess you really do just love yourself.”) But other lyrics suggest that that’s far too literal an interpretation, and that Timberlake’s sentiment is actually a much less narcissistic one—that maybe he means “mirror” in more of the Wedding Crashers, counterpoint sense than the self-obsessed Seinfeld one.
For one, it seems like he sees himself as being Biel’s mirror, as well—”We’re making two reflections into one,” he states on the chorus, later insisting to her “keep your eyes on me.” He also sees her as her own entity unto herself, separate from him entirely, explicitly saying about her “Aren’t you somethin’, an original.” And perhaps most tellingly—and perhaps somewhat ironically—having his love as his mirror allows JT to change and become a better man, Timberlake singing “I can’t ever change without you” and later “So now I say goodbye to the old me, it’s already gone.” Having a mirror put up to himself allows JT to see his imperfections, and gives him reason to want to change them.
In the end, it’s actually a very sweet and thoughtful love song, and one that even a famous person like Biel would probably be flattered to have written about them. And hell, not even Seinfeld viewed the notion of finding love through your exact replica as a sustainable formula—by the end of the episode, Jerry turns against his female equivalent, realizing “I can’t be with someone like me.. I hate myself!! If anything, I need to get the exact opposite of me!”
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