Justin: Taylor Hicks 'Can't Carry a Tune'

08/17/2006 at 09:05 AM EDT

Justin: Taylor Hicks 'Can't Carry a Tune'
Timberlake (left) and Hicks
Dave Allocca/startraks; REX
Taylor Hicks's singing is not music to Justin Timberlake's ears.

"People think he looks so normal and he's so sweet and he's so earnest, but he can't carry a tune in a bucket," Timberlake tells Fashion Rocks magazine about the American Idol winner.

On Hicks's potential career longevity, Timberlake says, "If he has any skeletons whatsoever – if, God forbid, he's gay – and all these people in Mississippi who voted for him are like 'Oh, my God, I voted for a queer!' It's just too much pressure."

Timberlake also took a crack at American Idol, telling the magazine, "I despise it, and yet I'm completely fascinated."

Timberlake's publicist, Ken Sunshine, tells the Washington Post, "These comments are taken completely out of context." Although Timberlake and Hicks have never met, Sunshine says, Timberlake "only wishes him well. He has great affection for anybody that puts himself out there the way he did."

Speaking to MTV, Timberlake – whose second solo album, FutureSex/LoveSounds, is due Sept. 12 – also talks about two other pop stars: His ex-girlfriend Britney Spears and his former 'N Sync bandmate Lance Bass, who last month came out on the cover of PEOPLE.

"I think Lance is one of the greatest people I know, and I'm just happy that he had self-acceptance over this because I'm sure it's hard," he says. "The guy grew up in the Bible Belt, you know, so just as his friend, you want that for him. You want him to be okay and live his life."

Of Spears, he says, "I get approached a lot in print interviews about her. It's such a part of my life that was so long ago to me that I prefer not to talk about it anymore because it's giving it too much weight. … It's always misconstrued. But the truth of the matter is, I really do wish her well, and I do want to see her win."

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