The Singles Party: Justin Timberlake ‘Suit & Tie’

the gang looks at the latest from JT…

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For years people have been clamoring for Justin Timberlake to get off the silver screen and get back into the recording studio. In 2013, those people have had their wish granted. While the former *NSYNC frontman only has two records to solo career, he’s considered one of the great pop artists of the last two decades — and it’s kinda justified. His singles are infectious, well-produced and have a lot of staying power. “Sexy Back” went from being played on infinite loop on terrestrial radio and clubs to becoming everyone’s favorite dance-inducing throwback jam wherever and whenever it’s played.

Now, in January 2013, JT has released his first new single in ages “Suit & Tie.” Featuring the kingpin of hip-hop Jay-Z as a guest vocalist, JT’s single is already expected to out download “Sexy Back” and become a mammoth hit. We’re not surprised — it’s JT.

But is ‘Suit and Tie’ worth adding to your playlist? We discuss.

Jason Kundrath: Remember the old Justin? This guy went ALL OUT on the boy band circuit. The stupid hair. The ridiculous clothes. The embarrassing N*synchronized choreography, shoulder to shoulder with those other goofballs. All of it carefully targeted to girls aged 11 to 17. But Justin and company hit the target on the nose and went on to sell about a bazillion records.

This is generally the end of the line for folks like Justin. Enjoy your money, but please don’t ask us to take you seriously as a solo artist.

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But Timberlake went ahead and beat the odds. In fact, he beat them half to death. It took about a minute of convincing, but JT proved to the world that he has the music, the moves, and the charisma to be a megastar. And he can act, too! But despite Friends With Benefits, we’ve been getting restless waiting for new music. Finally, after six years, this week he announced he’ll be dropping a new record this year – The 20/20 Experience – and gave us a taste in the form of “Suit & Tie.” This track – produced by the unmistakable Timbaland – hits like a oxygen tank. After a sexy, down-tempo intro bumps along for a bit with JT asking if he can “show you a few things,” the music suddenly stops. Timbaland then asks Timberlake if he’s ready, and we are suddenly catapulted into a gorgeous, silky smooth slice of JT’s brand of R&B that seamlessly blends classic and modern flavors. Timbaland’s beat is hot to death. (Love that snare!) And Justin is clearly having a good time. I must deduct a few points from its overall score, however, for Jay Z’s rap, which is a bore, and kills the flow of the song. (Respect to Jay, but it’s not his best work.) Regardless, add this to your playlist and get excited. Justin is back. Verdict: Add to the Playlist.

Brent Johnson: Justin Timberlake is the kind of music star anyone can like: slick enough to be R&B, catchy enough to be pop, funny and cool enough to be embraced by cynical rock fans. And ‘Suit & Tie’ — his first single in seven years — is a reminder of how much he’s been missed. J.T. may have spent much of the last decade proving that he can act and that he may as well join Saturday Night Live as a cast member, but it’s still clear that music is his first talent. Even snobs agree that his first two records were solid slabs of fun, creative dance-pop — despite a fascination with Michael Jackson that has always been a bit too obvious. ‘Suit & Tie’ largely picks up where he left off. The track opens with the kind of experimentation mainstream pop music doesn’t do much of: staccato horns, oddball harmonies, an off-kilter beat. And while the rest isn’t as great, it’s still pretty good: a smooth piece of pop-funk filled with J.T.’s trademark falsettos, sprinkles with horns, and a cursory guest rap by Jay-Z. It’s a nice teaser for album No. 3. Verdict: Add to the Playlist.

 

Joe Zorzi: I’m not one of those people that are like “OMG JT please come back we need you!” But I definitely like his work and I was excited for this song. I know there was a lot of people who loved this song and a lot who thought it was bland. I think “Suit & Tie” is a good song. I don’t find it incredible, but I also didn’t like it. It’s a track that I wouldn’t skip on a mixtape, but I also won’t be ranting to my friends about how they need to hear it. I have a feeling the best is yet to come from Mr. Timberlake and I’m still pretty pumped to hear the rest of his new stuff. I’d say add this to your playlist if you can jam out to some good pop music. Verdict: Add to the Playlist.

Lauren Stern: “Suit and Tie” isn’t the overpowering pop music hit everyone expected it to be and that’s why there are so many mixed feelings about it. I personally love it for just that reason. I feel like when it comes to pop music, the majority wants to hear something that isn’t 100% auto-tuned (I’m looking at you, Flo Rida) and doesn’t sound like it’s already been done before. That’s exactly what this song is in a nutshell.

I feel like whoever didn’t like this song were either expecting another “Sexy Back” or expecting JT to go Bruno Mars on us and no offense, but that’s pretty unrealistic. To all the haters: I say be a little more open-minded and let JT do his thing. Bring on, The 20/20 experience! I can’t wait! Verdict: ADD TO PLAYLIST!

Bill Bodkin: Let me preface this by saying we’ve heard better, much better, from Justin Timberlake. However, the tag team of JT and Timbaland, once again swing for the fences and knock it out of the park. Timbaland’s beats are smooth and have a tremendous hook — and are the kind where you might not love them at first, but they’ll definitely grow on you. As for JT, his vocals are so effortlessly good it’s kinda like you wanna punch this guy for being so damn talented. The combo of his pipes and Timbaland’s beats work wonders together and after the infinite times you’ll hear this song, it’ll be stuck in your head and you’ll find yourself doing a little shimmy or toe tap to it…no matter what your musical preference. Jay-Z’s guest spot isn’t his best work either, but still solid. Overall, I gotta admit this is a playlist add, especially for pop music fans. Verdict: Add to the Playlist.

Final Verdict: Kelly Gonsalves is heading back to her second semester at school so she was unavailable…but folks, this a first, a UNANIMOUS decision. JT has won us over and we all say add this track to your playlist.

Next Week — We tackle the pop smash “Thrift Shop” by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

Founded in September 2009, The Pop Break is a digital pop culture magazine that covers film, music, television, video games, books and comics books and professional wrestling.