Justin Timberlake backtracked from criticism of "American Idol" winner Taylor Hicks after telling Fashion Rocks magazine the 29-year-old soul singer "can't carry a tune in a bucket."

"I have a strange relationship with that show," Timberlake tells the magazine in an interview. "I despise it, and yet I'm completely fascinated."

"The guy who won — 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. Do you realize how much pressure it is to put on somebody all of a sudden?"

Timberlake, a member of boy band 'N Sync who is now pursuing a solo career, also said: "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."

Liz Morentin, a representative for Hicks' record label, RCA, declined to comment Thursday.

Ken Sunshine, Timberlake's representative, said the 25-year-old singer's comments "were taken completely out of context."

"He has tremendous affection for Taylor Hicks' success," Sunshine told The Associated Press on Thursday. "He would never say anything that personal about somebody he's never met. He only wishes him the best."

Timberlake's second solo album, "FutureSex/LoveSounds," is set for release Sept. 12. "Sexyback," his first single from the CD, began playing on U.S. radio outlets last month.

"I wanted (the album) to look to a time when everything was really sexy," he says. "Maybe everybody was coked up, but who cares? It was hot. It was all about sex."