Should Justin Timberlake Be Worried About A SexyBacklash?

Ubiquitous single-turned-catchphrase might send singer into 'U Can't Touch This' territory.

The following headline recently appeared on a Web site whose name will be withheld to protect its dignity: “Metropolitan Brings Sexy Back to Opera.”

OK, when the Metropolitan Opera is bringing sexy back, it’s gone too far — that’s if it hadn’t already.

“If I hear one more idiot friend of mine say they are bringing sexy back, I may have to slap them,” confirmed JoJo Wright, an on-air personality for KIIS-FM in Los Angeles. “They have even taken it to the next level and made their own personal versions such as ‘I’m bringing ugly back’ or ‘I’m bringing stupid back.’ ”

“I’ve heard ‘I’m bringing blogging back,’ ” added master celeb blogger Perez Hilton. “That’s why that catchphrase works is ’cause you can really appropriate it and make it your own.”

To his credit, Justin Timberlake has apologized for, well, bringing sexy back.

“I definitely didn’t think it would become the most worn-out joke of 2006,” he said recently. “It just sounded like a nice opening to the song. I mean, I definitely didn’t know it was going to start what it started.”

With “SexyBack” — which has been #1 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 for seven consecutive weeks, by the way — Timberlake has turned his lyrics into lingo and topped “hips don’t lie” as the catchphrase of 2006.

The question now is, is that a good or bad thing?

Snoop only heightened his ultra-cool status by coining “drop it like it’s hot,” but the same can’t exactly be said for Tag Team (“Whoomp! (There It Is)”), Sir Mix-A-Lot (“Baby Got Back”) and MC Hammer (“U Can’t Touch This” or “2 Legit 2 Quit”).

Then again, Ricky Martin launched his career by livin’ la vida loca, Britney Spears solidified hers by doing it again — oops — and Kelis rescued hers by bringing all the boys to the yard with her milkshake.

“It depends on the artist,” music journalist Steve Baltin said. “Queen had a catchphrase with ‘Another One Bites the Dust,’ and that’s certainly not what they’re remembered for now. For a one-hit wonder like Hammer or Tag Team, that catchphrase relegates them to a one-hit wonder punch line. But for someone like Justin, who’s proven himself to his fans, there should be no regrets because he’ll likely outlast that line.”

“For an established artist, it’s a good thing simply because they are known first and foremost as an artist,” added Wright, whose KIIS has “SexyBack” on heavy rotation. “For a new artist, they run a higher risk of being forever known as the group that sang, ‘I’m too sexy for my shirt.’ Although as long as they got paid, I guess that’s not so bad.”

So far, Timberlake is seeing no backlash, as FutureSex/LoveSounds‘ second single, “My Love,” has already climbed to #13 on the Hot 100.

“Some songs are written to be gimmick songs, and some songs are just good and they become catchphrases,” Hilton said. “I still like to hear ‘SexyBack,’ but I don’t ever want to hear ‘Who Let the Dogs Out’ again.”

With all the jokes, though, won’t even he eventually get tired of “SexyBack”?

“So long as he’s sexy,” Hilton said. “Maybe when he’s 60, ‘SexyBack’ will get retired.”

Maybe. Now take it to the bridge …