Just call them "sneaky singles."
Last week, David Bowie, seemingly retired from the music biz for the past 10 years, dropped a new cut from out of the blue. Where Are We Now? showed up on iTunes in the wee hours of the Thin White Duke's 66th birthday.
Now actor Justin Timberlake, formerly of 'N Sync but pop-musically dormant since 2006's SexyBack attack, is playing the sneaky singles game. On Monday, JT released the '70s-slick retro roll Suit & Tie, featuring an obligatory rap from Jay-Z.
Produced by longtime collaborator Timbaland, a once-ubiquitous beatmaster who's making a comeback himself, Suit & Tie is apparently the first single from a 2013 Timberlake album (or something, he's being vague) called The 20/20 Experience.
In a short, funny letter to fans on justintimberlake.com, where you can also hear the new song for free, the 31-year-old writes, "Back in June of last year, I quietly started working on what is now my next journey with that thing I love called MUSIC."
A lil' tease, a lil' music.
And now, just like that, Suit & Tie is No. 1 on iTunes with absolutely zero promotion from Timberlake's RCA record label.
I'm digging this new trend. Where Are We Now? and Suit & Tie are totally refreshing products of both a singles-driven music industry and, more importantly, a lightning-fast social media landscape where a whole lot of attention can be garnered in a short amount of time.
All facets of social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) are buzzing about JT's song, primarily because it seemingly popped up out of nowhere. (Unlike Bowie's release, which was a straight-up, what-the-heck secret, Timberlake had been teasing his release a few days beforehand.)
Suit & Tie is nowhere near as catchy as SexyBack, but it's fun and sonically slick, with a slow, low head-nod preface then a rickety dance-floor tempo change. It's about style and clubs and hookups ("Stop, let me have a good look at it...") and absolutely nothing serious. Yep, it's good to have Mr. Sexy back.
Sean Daly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @seandalypoplife on Twitter.