Justin Timberlake's Song Won Over Fans, but He Lost the Comeback War of 2013

David Wagner
January 14, 2013
Justin Timberlake's Song Won Over Fans, but He Lost the Comeback War of 2013

After much teasing, Justin Timberlake dropped his natty new single, "Suit and Tie," overnight — and while the Internet mostly likes it, everyone seems to agree that JT had the most annoying reveal in a week packed with major pop comebacks.

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Timberlake's new Jay-Z assisted track (you have to click through to hear it) attempted to overshadow the Golden Globes aftermath when he released it at midnight, capping off a week in which David Bowie and Destiny's Child also rolled out comeback tracks. Critics were won over. Fans were convinced to buy it on iTunes. Surely certain listeners are going to prefer the Bowie and Destiny's Child tracks, but ask anyone to rank the artists' release strategies and you won't find many Timberlake defenders.

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In her Gawker post "Bowie and Timberlake: Who Came Out of Retirement Better?", Mallory Ortberg wrote, "There are no wrong answers, except the correct answer is definitely David Bowie, now and forever. Justin Timberlake is fun and I like counting as much as the next guy, but he's still got about 29 albums to go before he can make announcements the same week as Bowie." Though The Guardian's Sam Wolfson raised an eyebrow at Destiny's Child putting their new song "Nuclear" out through Mashable (we're with you on that one), he writes of Timberlake's tick-tock gimmick: 

The world was watching at 5pm on Thursday when the giant countdown Justin had on his website reached 00:00:00. Alas, it only revealed a shoddy YouTube video of Justin doing a Brad Pitt for Chanel-style monologue about how you shouldn't rush him. 

And according to the kind of obsessives who take polls on pop culture blogs, David Bowie's restrained album announcement beat Timberlake's flashy comeback handily. Other Internet pundits were upset that Timberlake-mania overshadowed the new Ciara track, and some called him "self-indulgent." Whoever handles Spinner's twitter account summed up the frustration pretty well: 

Hey, Timberlake. See how Destiny's Child released a song and everyone is listening to it? That's what you should do (with a better track)

— Spinner.com (@Spinner) January 11, 2013

In his defense, Timberlake seems to get now that he drew out the hype a bit too long. In the "Open Letter" that came with the new song, Timberlake writes: 

Some people may criticize me for the last 3 days. But it was fun, right?? Right?!?! Besides, I'd rather speak directly to all of you. And, who can knock me for having a little bit of fun with it? Well... No more teasing. Although, it was A LOT of fun. (Did I mention that I'm having fun with this?? Ha!)