It seems odd to use the word “minor” to describe anything involving Justin Timberlake or Destiny’s Child (except for “The Love Guru” … that was a very minor comedy), and yet, there seems no better adjective available for their respective returns — “Suit & Tie” and “Nuclear” — both of which are decidedly dinky things.
That’s not a slight against either song, mind you … sonically, they’re both rather fascinating, each putting unique updates on ’90s R&B, all slinky synths and icicle-sharp beats. The HOV-enhanced “Suit & Tie” is probably the more adventurous of the two, cramming together something like three different tunes into five minutes, and it’s a delightfully unhinged, all-over-the-place thing. “Nuclear” is a sensuous, glacial tune, one that seems less like a Destiny’s song and more like something out of Solange’s songbook, yet its restraint is also what makes it stand out.
So, when I refer to either of them as “minor,” it’s not a criticism; it’s just odd to see two of the biggest pop acts of the past decade display such levels of reserve. And not just musically, either; there was a time when a new JT or Destiny’s single would have been preceded by no shortage of fanfare … there would have been commercial tie-ins, reams of press releases and more trailers than the next chapter in the “Transformers” series. And yet, none of that really happened this time around. Over the course of 72 hours, we got just one teaser clip from Timberlake and, well, that was pretty much it. Beyonce and Co. simply announced a new greatest hits album, then promptly dropped their first single in eight years (on Mashable of all places) and Justin completed a countdown clock then released “Suit & Tie” on his official site.
These were, after all, two genuine, bona fide musical events, and yet both were treated much like minor mixtapes, sent off into the ether and left to stand on their (relative) merits. In a way, it was sort of disappointing. Does that mean that mean we are officially living in the post-blockbuster era, where hype and promotion are trumped by speed-to-market? Quite possibly … though it’s more probable both JT and DC realize how to play the game in 2013, delivering their product directly to their fans, record labels be damned.
Will Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience be released as a “pay what you want” download? Are Destiny’s Child planning to premiere even more new songs through Buzzfeed? Neither of those things seem like possibilities, but then again, last week, neither did the idea of new music from either artist. And yet, here we are, with no fanfare. The earth did not move, our knees did not quake, and really, you can’t help but ask “Is that it?”
Chalk it up to the cost of doing business in 2013, I suppose. But sometimes you want an event, you need an event … and we didn’t get one this time out. Sure, it’s great to have Justin and Destiny’s back with us; I just wish they would have given us a little time to put together a “Welcome Home” party in their honor. Even a minor one would have sufficed.
Are you excited about new Timberlake and Destiny’s Child? Let us know in the comments below.