Unless you’re a blind mute with your mouth duct taped stuck in a soundproof bottomless pit, then you’re probably aware of the biggest music news from the weekend: Justin Timberlake returning to music. It all started with JT releasing a video entitled “I’m Ready” on his website, followed by a series of curious Tweets, and then the release of his highly-anticipated new single “Suit & Tie” produced by Timbaland and featuring Jay-Z.
Admittedly, I’ve never been the biggest fan of Timberlake’s music, but this joint is a true return-to-form for him: it’s extremely celebratory, up-tempo and horn-driven, with a grown and sexy, champagne poppin’ attitude flowing throughout the track. Complimented by vintage experimental production by Timbaland, and JT may just have a big winner for the charts. The only setback is a pretty standard and boring 16 by Hova, but overall, this could very well be considered the pop music interpretation of “And The Winner Is…” from Jay’s American Gangster album.
But the real story here of course is Timberlake finding his way back to the music world after a six-year hiatus where he focused his energy on many other endeavors, including building his resume up in Hollywood (several movies, countless appearances on Saturday Night Live) the purchase of MySpace, getting married, etc. Which was a smart move, considering that over the past 6 years the music industry has been through a few more rough patches, with sales dropping, the ideas of free music and the sharing economy growing and uncertainty about the industry at an all time high.
Furthermore, one could argue that Timberlake has positioned himself to come back into the music game at the perfect time, with more than a few of his fans taking to YouTube to plead for his return to the Billboard charts, as well as the fact that he is one of the new owners of MySpace, which we’re all well aware gives him a great opportunity to release his new album simultaneously with a planned launch of a new, more music-focused MySpace. I honestly don’t think anyone would be surprised if that’s gonna be done, it would more so be HOW it’s actually done by Timberlake that would draw people in.
In all brutal honesty, the music industry isn’t the same as it was when Timberlake released FutureSexLoveSounds: less lucrative, more D.I.Y, less traditional, more consumer-centric. But by having built a big brand name already and not following the formula of many of today’s pop artists and releasing music at breakneck speed to remain relevant, JT seems to have set himself up well for success with his next album. We’ll just have to wait and see.