The release of the first Justin Timberlake single in seven years is supposed to be the kind of thing that makes you feel good about going out to the store and spending a couple extra dollars than you intended on a new pair of head phones.
After all, this is something we’ve literally been asking for years. The return of one of the few “shared experience” artists going. The type of artist who makes music that my sister gets ready to go out to while also being the same artist whose song plays every time my friend scores a goal in NHL 12′.
There’s no secret behind the success of Justin Timberlake’s music; It’s fun to like it. With good music becoming increasingly harder to find, it was a breath of fresh air in 2006 for a commercially successful album backed by regular air play to be so… good.
And in the 2000’s, that’s unfortunately become a rarity – a universally appreciated album that everyone can enjoy. Top 40 rules the radio waves, and mostly play safe, bubblegum pop. Catchy songs get run into the ground and exposed for what they are. Great music is being made, you just need to subscribe to 6 podcasts, read 30 music blogs daily in order to know what to dig through google to find. FutureSexLoveSounds was an exception: Truly great, and readily available.
This is why we’ve been romanticizing his return to music – Why we’ve tolerated his extended absence. Why we pretend he’s funnier than he really is. Why we turn the other cheek to pretend like the movie In Time never actually happened. Because sharing the experience of good pop music is a heckuva lotta fun.
So ‘Suit & Tie,’ Timberlake’s single was supposed to be a big deal. And to be fair; it was treated that way. Predeceased by a promo video, and a countdown website that’d make Chris Jericho and the guys at the WWE proud. It was supposed to spit in the face of the Ke$ha’s of the world and remind us that good pop music does exist. Make us think that maybe our generation does have it’s Michael Jackson or at least it’s Prince.
Instead, we’re forced to be reminded that in a 10 year career as a solo artist, Justin Timberlake has roughly 1.5 good albums*.
To be clear, ‘Suit & Tie’ isn’t a bad song. It’s perfectly fine – the verses are pretty enjoyable, the beat sounds like it’d be perfect for an Outkast record. But the chorus is a little lazy, and the Jay Z verse is unquestionably forced.
But this was supposed to be a Justin Timberlake single. This was supposed to sound like ‘Sexy Back’, or ‘Cry Me A River’, or ‘My Love.’ Not track 11, the second best song to be released today, or a song to be used to introduce a new fragrance line.
Perhaps we don’t know Timberlake’s intentions with ‘Suit & Tie.’ Perhaps this isn’t truly a ‘single’ as much as it is an introduction on the type of sound to expect The 20/20 Experience (his album to be released at some point this year). Or perhaps it’s a song that won’t even make the record.
What we do know, unfortunately, is that the first Justin Timberlake song to be released in over half-a-decade, is just not that good. Now I’m here, with overpriced headphones, hoping what comes next will be.
*Justified is an OK album, but outside the singles the album is fairly unlistenable.