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SINGLE REVIEW: Justin Timberlake featuring Jay-Z – “Suit And Tie”

It suits him well.

It suits him well.

You may as well call this a zoot suit riot. It’s finally here, the new single from Justin Timberlake, “Suit And Tie”, featuring rapper Jay-Z.  Understandably, the traffic to Timberlake’s website is a little heavy at the moment, but we’ve got your hookup to the hotness that is, by far, the most anticipated track of 2013 thus far.

Before I start, kudos once again to the various members of Pulse Music Board who put the puzzle pieces together (Follow the madness here) and came up with the correct titles for both the single and album title names for Timberlake’s new releases. Special thanks to Kurt Trowbridge who put up an amazing post on his blog, which you can see by clicking on his name. Really neat stuff that proved to be entirely right in the end!

Timberlake has of course been a huge success on the national surveys ever since he started in the boy band *NSYNC; he had at least one top-40 hit per year from 1998-2010. In recent years, his presence on the charts has lessened considerably, mainly due in part to the singer’s focus on acting and developing some of his own acts on his label Tennman Records, including Esmée Denters and FreeSol. (None of them have been big successes to date in the States, though his collaboration with Matt Morris and Charlie Sexton, a version of “Hallelujah” performed at the Hope For Haiti Now telethon, became a digital hit.) His last significant radio single was a feature on Jamie Foxx‘s “Winner”, which peaked at #27 on CHR radio in May 2010. It also featured rapper T.I., but it’s long faded from the airwaves. Now, Timberlake is back in action with this first single from his forthcoming third solo album, The 20/20 Experience.

The song was written by Timberlake, Timbaland, Jay-Z, Jerome Harmon and James Flauntleroy. Harmon’s worked with a number of acts since 2007, from Ashlee Simpson to Chris Cornell. Fauntleroy was a co-writer behind “No Air” by Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown, as well as one of the last hits Timberlake featured on, “Love, Sex, Magic” by Ciara.

“Suit” is very much an old-school record inspired by the early 70’s R&B sound, from the funky horn section to Timberlake’s sweet and tender vocals. It’s like a mixture of Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye vocally with the explicitness lyrically of a Barry White record. At a hefty 5:28, the version on iTunes will be used as the album version, while a radio edit will chop it down a bit. It starts off with a slow section combining Timberlake’s vocals and Timbaland’s production, stopping about forty seconds in with a clear break. Timbaland questions: “Wait a minute. Are you ready, JT?” That’s an affirmative. (This part is cut out on the radio edit, thank goodness. It’s like what Timbaland tried to do with “4 Minutes” by extending Madonna and Timberlake’s song to a length of 4:04 with a non-event intro and outro. Keep it short and simple, please.)

Timberlake is in the mood for some steady romancing crooning that he “can’t wait to get [her] on the floor”. She’s a fiesty one who burns him to the touch and “ain’t nothin’ but a little doozy when she does it,” but he proceeds with his lady because, as he states in the chorus, “love is swingin’ in the air tonight/Let me show you a few things”. She may be dangerous for the “innocent” character in Timberlake, but “she’s all mine.” Yet, this is no casual romance. Oh, no, no, not for Mr. Timberlake, who is “fixed up to the 9’s” and “all dressed up in black and white”, matching the perfectly picked-up out dress by his female cohort. How sizzling! All of this is against a really dreamy sounding arrangement which really goes a nice job of combining both the classic soul sound with some up-to-date techniques, like the steady drum machine line and the multi-layered instruments.

At 3:14, the bark of an order from JT: “Get out your seat, HOV!” Hey, look, it’s Jay-Z on this record! His flow is solid as usual, proclaiming, “This is trouble season/Time for tuxedos for no reason.” It’s another part of what makes this track so sensual, and even though it’s probably the most current thing about this dated-sounding record, it actually isn’t too bad. In fact, this is probably the most I’ve liked a song featuring the rapper in at least two or three years. Is it an essential part of the song? Perhaps not, but it for sure works. Timberlake’s vocals are done for the most part by the 4:48 mark, ending with a really pretty mixture of drums, keyboards, horns and a little bit of steel drum as if you’ve been whisked away into paradise for five-and-a-half minutes. This guy is good.

So, yes, I’m in love, for now at least. It’s a more mature sound for the former boy bander; the only potential problem I see is that a younger audience may not connect with it since it’s not particularly kid-friendly. The Urban audience may also write this off as a Robin Thicke reject, but who cares? Justin Timberlake is back, and praise the Lord that this isn’t an electro-pop dance song like the majority of the material on CHR radio today. It’s a game changer, just like “SexyBack” was in 2006. The song will easily debut high on the CHR chart on the weekend’s update, which is perfect timing given that it will also be the fifteenth anniversary of *NSYNC‘s debut single, “I Want You Back”, hitting the top 40 on the same chart. Will the song be able to score the biggest debut digital sales frame of all-time? We’ll have to see, but the buzz behind it is immense. Look out below!

For more singles reviews and music news, follow us here at POP! Goes The Charts and my personal Twitter handle: @AdamFSoybel.

Buy “SUIT & TIE” on iTunes. (Album version)

(If you’re interested in a solo radio version without Jay-Z, you can contact me on here or on Twitter.)

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