At this point in the hype cycle, I think we can admit that the new singles from Justin Timberlake and Destiny's Child were just fine.
Saying they were "just fine" is like only being able to describe a person as "nice." It's not an insult, but it's not great that such an un-superlative word is the only one that fits.
When J.T. started teasing "Suit & Tie" with a countdown clock and an "I'M READY" tweet, the internet predictably and understandably when ape-shit ("tie, shit..."). The man who brought sexy back was coming back with his first song and, eventually, first album since 2006's FutureSex/LoveSounds. Destiny's Child was only promising one new song on a re-release of old material, but still, I squealed.
It's not just that we haven't heard from these artists in years, it's that we loved them so much in their prime. Plus, absence makes the heart grow fonder, and in the music industry, it makes stars shine brighter.
But when "Suit & Tie" and "Nuclear" finally dropped, I finally learned a lesson: I need to manage my comeback expectations better.
It's a lesson I should have learned when No Doubt got back together, or any time I've watched a recent Rolling Stones performance. No Doubt was "just fine." The Stones still rock, but they're, you know, old.
Every time I'm a little let down, I forgive and forget. Then here I am, getting excited for what will surely be the sexiest shit this side of 2010, and J.T. fails to knock my socks off.
That's probably not fair to him. How could he meet the insanely high expectations? The song has a lot of good qualities, including the twinkling, light-as-air feel that throws back to the early 2000s and that smooth outro. But beyond some chair bouncing, it didn't make me want to move.
Same goes for "Nuclear." Past the novelty of having Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams together, it wasn't very exciting. It was a good song that should fit the collection they're re-releasing, but if your hugely successful group is going to release a song for the first time since 2005, wouldn't want it to hit harder? Pop and thump instead of shuffle along prettily but quietly?
Few people are cynical enough to completely squash the excitement for these comebacks, and you shouldn't try to. Let's not take all the joy out of it. I think it's time to try to temper my high hopes, though. After the initial burst of I-can't-wait endorphins, I need to talk myself down.
Let's try practicing with this hype emergency scenario: Dr. Dre is finally releasing Detox.
Holyshitguys. We've literally been waiting for this since forever. I literally cannot wait. Literally.
Now say to yourself, "First of all, stop using that word. Second of all, Detox might not be the best thing you've ever heard. It might not even live up to his old stuff. Better to be pleasantly surprised than disappointed, so take a deep breath and save it 'til you've heard it."
We got this.