When last we heard from Justin Timberlake, at least musically, he was bringing “Sexy Back” … back in 2006. (It was one of three chart-topping hits from his album FutureSex/LoveSounds.) So for those of you scoring at home, nearly seven years have gone by since his last foray onto the charts—a veritable eternity in the realm of entertainment … and a lifetime for some alpha dogs.
Will music fans still be interested in the same ol’ JT? Because he is, indeed, still singing the same ol’. Timberlake’s new song, “Suit & Tie” sounds practically vintage, in fact. Which isn’t necessarily a good thing.
As he did on “Sexy Back,” Justin has teamed up with writer/producer Timbaland. Jay Z adds a verse, too, and I’ll get to that in a minute. The song’s intro, a dreamy, languid, horn-filled section that’s somewhat disconnected from the rest of the tune finds JT repeating this couplet: “I be on my suit and tie s‑‑‑, tie s‑‑‑, tie/I be on my suit and tie s‑‑‑, tie s‑‑‑.”
That inauspicious beginning quickly brings the profanity tally up to 8 s-words before giving way to somewhat less problematic verses about asking a woman (perhaps Timberlake’s new bride, actress Jessica Biel?) to dance. “I can’t wait till I get you out on the floor, good-looking,” he tells her. Then he adds, “Going out so hot, just like an oven/And I’ll burn myself, but just had to touch it/It’s so fly, and it’s all mine.”
Later, he compliments his girl on her dress (“And you’re dressed in that dress I like”) and tells her, “Love is swinging in the air tonight/Let me show you a few things/ … Show you a few things about love.”
Read a double entendre or two into those lines if you wish, but it was just when I was starting to wonder whether matrimony and the passage of all those dog years have mellowed Mr. Timberlake a bit that he fires up a lighter to smoke a big marijuana blunt (“Stop, let me get a good look at it/So thick, now I know why they call it a fatty”) and confesses, it seems, that smoking weed has become a habit (“S‑‑‑ so sick, got a hit and picked up a habit”).
Enter Jay-Z to deliver his signature dose of high-style swagger, a stream-of-consciousness concoction that moves from frivolous (“Y’all sit back and enjoy the light show”) to sexual (“Years of distress, tears on the dress/try to hide her face with some makeup sex”) to chemical (“I’ll show you how to do this young/No papers, catch vapors/Get high, out Vegas”). He, strangely, issues instructions for the in-laws (“Tell your mother that I love her ’cause I love you/Tell your father we go farther as a couple/They ain’t lose a daughter, got a son/I show you how to do this, hun!”) And we also hear, “You just got good genes so a n-gga tryna cuff you.”
And then it’s back to JT, his girl and the dance floor: “And as long as I’ve got my suit and tie/I’ma leave it all on the floor tonight.”
Justin Timberlake is known for being a pretty snazzy dresser. The suave man on the scene. His music, though, too often shows up looking a bit unkempt. Sometimes even slovenly.
After serving as an associate editor at NavPress’ Discipleship Journal and consulting editor for Current Thoughts and Trends, Adam now oversees the editing and publishing of Plugged In’s reviews.