Justin Timberlake Is Not Jesus

Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel at a Lakers game.

Our excitement level is somewhere between these two (Photo: Getty)

You guys, I’m a Justin Timberlake fan. I really am. He’s released a lot of hot songs—including with N’Sync, though he doesn’t talk about that much anymore—and he’s been very good on Saturday Night Live and in The Social Network.

But can we keep it real for a minute? Justin Timberlake is not Jesus. For proof of his imperfections, just look at In Time. Oh, wait… you didn’t see that movie? Or you turned it off after ten minutes? Exactly.  And with Timberlake promising to drop a new single on Monday featuring Timbaland, Jay-Z, and Beyonce, let’s remember those missteps, okay?

I’m bringing this up because it seems like Timberlake himself is maybe buying into his own hype. Did you see this teaser video about his new single? Where he walks around making moody statements about why he hasn’t been making music? “I’m the one who sits and is obsessive about it before you even get to hear it,” he says. Then he talks about his artistic fulfillment and whatnot. And then he ends in a recording studio and announces that he’s ready.

Um… maybe get over yourself? Yes, it’s been a long time since JT dropped a new single, and yes, it’s been easy to miss his music as he makes good and/or not-good films. But it’s not like good music itself stopped being released. However, this ramp-up to the new single smacks of self-aggrandizement… as though everyone in the country has been holding their breath since Futuresex/LoveSounds.

I mean… I understand how PR works. I understand that he has to get the word out and make people aware he has new music coming. But there’s something off-putting about how this has worked so far. (The “I’m Ready” video was preceded by cryptic tweets and such.) Like… don’t pretend you have nothing to prove, Justin. You’ve been away a long time. Timbaland hasn’t had a hit in a while. Don’t assume we’re waiting for your return like Pop Music Jesus rising from the vault.

All my skepticism could be pointless, of course. When the single arrives on Monday, it could be amazing, and then obviously, all will be forgiven. But in this moment? Before the song? I have my doubts… mostly because Justin Timberlake’s press campaign is suggesting I don’t have any.

Mark Blankenship brought sexy back, but then he had to return it to the wild. He tweets as @IAmBlankenship.