Justin Timberlake and the Art of (White) Cool

He oozes sex. Justin Timberlake with his non threatening smile, barely there slighlty nasal speaking voice, and boyish vulnerablity managed to rredifine sexiness. He took his safe boy band lead singer appeal and  frat boy cockiness, threw it in a  white suburban hipster blender and viola, JT was no more and instead we had Justin Timberlake: swag, assuredness, always seemingly down with the brown (but never dating them; at least not openly), singing about his precious dick but never showing it, a shiny tease, new cool. So cool that he could disappear from his main gig, singing, for years and comeback and not even question whether it would work. Whether he still had it.

I admit I was one of the ones screaming for his return. Justin Timberlake was everything for me from this moment:


Shows my age but god; in high school that was EVERYTHING.  But then today something happened; Justin dropped his new single Suit & Tie:


and while I wanted this:

I was given this:

and I am like:

Then I had an ah hah moment: I didn’t like Justified at first; I felt “gone” was a stronger single (the others guys were back up) and it wasn’t until JT hit us with Britney’s lookalike that we were all like, “Oh shit this dude is amazing” and then when he was all like “I’m bringing sexy back” we were like, “Yes! bring it back; I didn’t know it left, but you said it did so it must be so!” 

Justin Timberlake has made a career resting on not his entire catalogue but rather one album and two songs. And because we are so quick to give this (and any) cute white boy extra credit for being aloof, cute, uncomplicated, and hip (basically your average frat boy at a semidecent university) we expect greatness from him. He hasn’t worked his ass all that hard musically in years—not like his female peers or even, gulp, Usher—and yet he has been able to retain the title of blue-eyed soul wunderkind.

So what’s the point? I am not really sure except that this could not be possible for most women or artists of color. Minus say the Huffington Post, there really isn’t the tag of “comeback” that haunts every female who leaves the game for any period of time over six months; instead we get “releases,” and “returns” both of which are either status quo in nature or positive; neither haunts, neither places everything on the line  like “comeback.”  Who else but cute straight white boys don’t have to constantly prove themselves? Who else can rest on the laurels of one (albeit fucking hot) try? And who else can release a song like “Suit & Tie” and have it undoubtedly be a hit? JT is just so cool.

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2 thoughts on “Justin Timberlake and the Art of (White) Cool

  1. Yawn says:

    I’m sorry but this is really lazy, lazy analysis. Is that wat it even is? The last paragraph tries to position Timberlake’s white male cool against women artists of color hurriedly and, therefore, poorly. To be clear, I don’t think that Justin’s newly released single is all that wonderful, but I also don’t think it’s that bad either. It’s maybe mediocre while possibly showing new directions for Justin (that it ISN’T like “Sexyback” should be applauded, I thin, not criticized). Finally, this: “Justin Timberlake has made a career resting on not his entire catalogue but rather one album and two songs.” You write this as a criticism but, reversely, it could also be praise. No one complains of Harper Lee making a name for herself in literature for publishing just one (amazing) novel; why are you so harsh on Timberlake who, according to you, has done well with nearly the same output?

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