Wedding planning, running a popular high fashion clothing line and a successful stint in Hollywood have kept him out of the music game for more than six years.
With lavish Italian nuptials to actress Jessica Biel still fresh in our memory, Justin Timberlake is officially bringing his version of sexy back to the world of music.
After six-and-a-half years of waiting for new JT solo material, ‘Suit & Tie’, a new single featuring Jay-Z and produced by Timbaland, was unveiled on Monday.
The American heartthrob informed his fans it was coming and explained.
The single is the first material to be released from his forthcoming third album The 20/20 Experience, which is due out later in the year.
In an open letter on his website, Timberlake says he “quietly started working” on The 20/20 Experience in June, adding: “The inspiration for this really came out of the blue and to be honest, I didn’t expect anything out of it. I just went into the studio and started playing around with some sounds and songs. It was probably the best time I’ve had in my career... Just creating with no rules and/or end goal in mind and really enjoying the process.”
The track was written by Timberlake, Timbaland, Shawn Carter, Jerome ‘J-ROC’ Harmon and James Flauntleroy.
“Let me show you a few things about love,” JT opens, after a percussion-filled opening 40 seconds. Timberlake’s falsetto — which admittedly could easily be mistaken for that of a woman — is broken only by a late rap verse from Jay-Z, who supports “tuxedoes for no reason”. ‘Suit & Tie’ is reminiscent in many ways of a number of the early tracks from Justified.
While it may have been a while since Timberlake gave us anything of his own by way of music, it’s not as if he has been resting on his laurels.
The six-year hiatus — since the September 2006 release of his second album FutureSex/LoveSounds — has been a busy time for the pop superstar, with acting, business ventures and guest roles songs with Madonna, Timbaland and Ciara.
Timberlake’s main focus has been on acting; he was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild award for his role in ‘The Social Network’, as Sean Parker, the founder of Napster.
In 2011, he starred alongside Cameron Diaz in ‘Bad Teacher’, opposite Mila Kunis in ‘Friends with Benefits’, and played Will Salas, the protagonist of ‘In Time’, a science fiction film by Andrew Niccol.
However, the former N Sync star’s biggest triumphs have come in the music industry, with both his albums topping the charts, three Brit awards and sales of more than 20 million copies worldwide.
According to Billboard and the Hollywood Reporter, Timberlake has recorded around 20 songs for his third solo album.
‘Suit & Tie’ was teased by a video released on Thursday when Timberlake announced to the world, “I’m ready”.
“I’m the one that sits and is obsessive about it before you even get to hear it,” he says in the minute-long video. “As close as I get to it, I don’t think I can physically torture myself that much, year in and year out, and expect it to fulfill me the way that it does and the way that it is right now. Someone asked me the other day, ‘So are you just done with music?’” the 31-year-old continues. “I don’t wanna put anything out that I don’t love … You have to wait for it.”
The clip finishes with the singer standing by a microphone, wearing a pair of headphones.
As Timberlake’s clock ticked down over the weekend, Justin Bieber was one of the first to comment, saying: “u got a good reason to be ready,” Bieber tweeted. “I have heard some stuff … #greatmusic.”
The single is available to download on iTunes and at justintimberlake.com
What Dubai thinks
Justin Timberlake’s new track, ‘Suit and Tie’, has divided the UAE’s DJs.
DJ and Sandance organiser Greg Dufton, said: “Just heard it today on YouTube and didn’t even realise it was him as it sounded like a woman. So not sure what’s happened there in six years. I wouldn’t rush to turn it over on the radio but I don’t see it being a huge success. It doesn’t have a lot of impact and even after listening to it a few times couldn’t find a catchy hook that would get people singing or dancing along to.”
DJ Dion Mavath said: “Having had a major talent crush on JT for a long time, I was looking forward to this track, and it’s typical JT class. Smooth vocals, addictive melody and phat beats. Respect to one of the few performers in pop that still has a hands-on role of writing, producing and performing their own material.”
Radio 1 presenter and host of The Sheena Show (10am-1pm weekdays), Sheena Kay, said: “JT’s comeback doesn’t disappoint. Produced by Timbaland and featuring Jay Z, I love that they decided to give it a “classic” vibe rather than going with the current trends. It’s suave and soulful while being danceable and is also one of those tracks that you appreciate more and more with each listen.”
Radio 2 presenter and host of Afternoons with Daisy (1-4pm weekdays), Daisy had this to say: “Heard it yesterday for the first time and OMG — what a tune! At last, JT is back and he’s back with a bang, amazing team work with Mr Jay-Z, Suit & Tie is already a 2013 anthem.”