At one point in the new video for Justin Timberlake’s comeback single “Suit & Tie,” the singer and actor looks at sheet music on an iPad. That’s the perfect encapsulation of what the song, with its ’40s big-band feel and casually up-to-date slang, sounds built to accomplish. When Timberlake and guest rapper Jay-Z performed the song at the Grammys, though, the effect was more redolent of a time before Steve Jobs was even born.
Turns out they just needed JT’s The Social Network director David Fincher, who keeps up the retro, black-and-white shtick in this video but manages to make all those throwback moves look a whole lot more contemporarily chic. Sure, a vintage style with rap-era vernacular has been done before, including by Mayer Hawthorne, but, as Jay-Z raps, neatly flipping a Bob Dylan lyric and usurping his cultural throne at the same time, “Nothing succeeds like success.”
Timberlake is set to release The 20/20 Experience, his first album since 2006, on March 19. “Suit & Tie” might not be his only collaboration with Jay-Z, either. Neither artist’s camp has confirmed the reports, but Rolling Stone cites sources saying the two are planning a stadium tour together. A pair of tuxes every night? That’s going to be a whole lot of dry-cleaning bills.