Justin Timberlake's "Suit & Tie": Why This Song Sucks
[Editor's note: Why This Song Sucks determines why particular tracks blow using science. It appears regularly on West Coast Sound.]
Song: Justin Timberlake, "Suit & Tie," featuring Jay-Z
History: "Suit & Tie" is the first song from Justin Timberlake's new album(!), The 20/20 Experience. People were super excited about the song before it was released, and I guess some still are* given that it's broken a few records since it came out, but a lot of people are wondering why it wasn't called "Shit & Tie" instead.
*I would anticipate that at least a portion of the people are mostly excited that he's not using his time to make Trouble With The Curve 2.
Atmospherics: Watery, billowy, supposed-to-be-sexy R&B for 20-year-olds, as seen through grown-upy, puffied, 30-and-40-year-old eyeballs*.
*Lots of times, before writing these columns I'll message a few writers smarter than me and ask them about the song. While talking to one person, I made the eyeballs remark, which then led into a tangent about regular ol' balls. All of a sudden: I'm terrified of old man balls. Like, I mean, I've seen mine, and those shits are gross. I can't even imagine what they're going to look like in another 30 years. It's going to be cataclysmic. They'll probably look like if Danny DeVito and Margaret Thatcher had a baby, but then left that baby in the sun for 40 weeks.
Scientific Analysis: First, there's a problem with the structure. "Suit & Tie" was written by five separate people (Timberlake, Jay-Z, Timbaland, James Fauntleroy II, Jerome Harmon). FIVE. That stat's particularly curious when you realize that they rhymed "good-looking" with "oven" in the opening verse. I'm saying, that means that someone inside of a room with four other very successful people, said, "Oh, I know what rhymes with 'good-looking': 'Oven,'" and then those other four very successful people were like, "SHIT, SON, YOU JUST SET THE WORLD ON FIRE WITH THAT ONE! WE GON' GET THESE MILLIONS!"
When I graduated high school, my parents threw a party for me. They held it in the backyard (every Mexican party is held in someone's backyard). We had a DJ there (he was my cousin's husband, because every Mexican DJ is someone's cousin's husband). He was playing this or that or whatever. It was fine. At one point, my Uncle Manuel grabbed his microphone and then tried rapping into it. He got one line out: "I'm from a neighborhood that's no good." You know what happened? Not millions of dollars. One of my other uncles threw a cupcake at him, is what. And 'neighborhood' and 'good' actually rhyme.
Second, the premise: Suits and ties can be cool, sure. And a big part of the song riffs on that. ("Tom Ford tuxedos for no reason." -Jay-Z) But there are very delicate parameters set in place that govern such things. To wit, this graph I found at the Science of Suit & Ties Institute of Cambridge:
It's very clear.
There is a steady rise in the coolness of someone wearing a suit and tie from baby age (more cute than cool) to precisely 26-years-and-203-days-old. (Coincidentally, that just happens to be the exact age Jay-Z was when Reasonable Doubt was released. He's on the cover wearing a suit and tie in what might be the coolest manner of all-time.) After 26-years-and-203-days-old there is a rapid decline in how cool someone is while wearing a suit and tie. It doesn't pick back up until one is 75.
I'm saying, HAVE YOU EVER EVEN SEEN AN OLD MAN IN A SUIT AND TIE? That shit is unstoppable.
Timberlake, 31 years old, and Jay-Z, 63, fall into the dead zone. This song gets dragged along into it too.
I. Every male has looked at his own balls in the mirror before. None of them have ever liked what they saw.
II. Wouldn't it be cool if Justin Timberlake's middle name were Dustin? But it isn't. It's Randall.
III. Timberlake is uncommonly charming. I mean, just look at him.
IV. Were you to extend the graph from the Science of Suit & Ties Institute of Cambridge you'd see that another drop off happens whenever someone dies. Dead people don't look cool in suits. Dead people don't look cool in anything. Or, I guess unless they become zombies. I'd imagine a zombie in a suit is kind of charming.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene with music features, additional online music listings and show picks. We'll also send special ticket offers and music promotions available only to our Music Newsletter subscribers.