Justin Timberlake Returns to Music, Reminds Us What We Used to Find Kind of Annoying About His Music

01/14/2013 12:23 PM |


Last night, after a few-day tease delay, the first new Justin Timberlake song in over six years was released, an advance marker for a new record called The 20/20 Experience. “Suit & Tie” was produced by Timbaland and features a guest verse from Jay-Z. Not fucking around with the bold-type names. It’s a gentle disco/R&B ode to getting yourself fancified and dancing, on such suitable occasions as a senior prom, a formal work event, or a high school friend’s wedding.

You can listen below:

What do we think of this, a few listens in? Let’s go through it…

Ok, so the intro is terrible. “I’ll be on my suit and tie shit,” if you’re being charitable, might pass as something an annoying person would say out loud. But then the vocal loops, making him repeat “shit tie, shit tie,” and it makes me think he is wearing a shitty tie, which defeats the whole purpose of the song. If I cared more I would use an audio editing program to just lop that part off, because I hate it.

One JT starts in with his falsetto, the song starts for real, and it’s certainly smooth. A few drinks into an open bar, and its inevitable inclusion in all wedding playlists for the forseeable future will be met with some boozy enthusiasm. There a glide to it that’s unavoidable, and easy to like. But, I will also say that in the seven years or so Timberlake’s spent being a sort of charming character actor and handsome comic presence, I’d somehow forgotten the extent to which his slang-y R&B lover-man persona was sort of his whole deal. He is more likable when he isn’t using words like “thang” and “fatty,” right? Because those give him the air of a stock character type in an early 00s teen movie?

Jay-Z’s guest verse is pretty bad too, actually, plodding through at an energy level somewhere below getting dressed. Are we sure he did get out of his seat? (Pics or it didn’t happen.) What is the wedding reception dance floor doing at this point in the song, in your imagination? Awkwardly bobbing from side to side, getting nervous that the beat won’t come back? The song only really recovers from this energy suck derailment at the 5-minute mark, when it does come back. Timbaland’s beat is probably the best part of the production, and it’s nice to hear it isolated at the end.

So, it’s OK. Maybe OK-minus. But he didn’t bring sexy back, this time, you guys. Sexy is still at its lake house.