Justin Timberlake can do it all: sing, dance, act—he’s given SNL some of their funniest sketches of the last decade, and he’s got the rare talent of maintaining super-fame without becoming overbearing, annoying the shit out of us, and burning out of the pop culture zeitgeist. With his new single “Suit & Tie” he shows off another talent: great timing.
If music had one defining story in 2012 it was the return of R&B. Frank Ocean almost single-handedly ushered in a new R&B renaissance with “Channel Orange,” one of the most talked-about records of the year. Ocean’s crossover from too-cool-for-school hip-hop collective Odd Future gave him credibility and made a whole group of music nerds who usually only listen to R&B ironically when it’s R. Kelly turn to the genre with a fresh set of ears. Ocean paved the way for other new highbrow R&B artists like Miguel and his 2012 release “Kaleidoscope Dream” to find favor with audiences they wouldn’t have before “Channel Orange” came out.
Which brings us to Justin Timberlake’s new single “Suit & Tie.” Timberlake is hardly a fair weather fan hopping on a bandwagon, here—it’s been seven years since he brought sexy back. JT was making hit R&B back when Frank Ocean was in middle school. But after a seven year absence, Justin is picking the perfect moment to return to music—a time when his almost bizarrely soulful tenor is coming back in style, bigtime. And the song is fully with the times: The hard edges and dance beat of “Im Bringing Sexy Back” are gone, replaced with the more delicate and whimsical production Frank Ocean helped herald into fashion. Being Justin Timberlake, he also enlisted the help of some very famous and talented friends—Jay-Z’s verse sounds great, as does Timbaland’s production. Beyonce also apparently makes an appearance on the record, which he’s calling “The 20/20 Experience.”
It’s been seven years, and this time he’s bringing JT back—and his timing couldn’t be better. Take a listen below.