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Los Angeles - Pop star Justin Timberlake has brought his trademark sexy crooner voice back with his first new song in five years, receiving a warm welcome from fans and critics on Monday on his long-awaited return to music.
The singer released Suit & Tie featuring Jay-Z on Sunday night, and within hours, the song had topped the US iTunes chart. The new single also came with the announcement of a new album, The 20/20 Experience, to be released later this year.
The new song, produced by Timberlake's long-time collaborator Timbaland, features the singer's falsetto voice over a laid-back, hip-hop beat, fusing R&B and pop sounds.
Critics drew on Timberlake's newly married status - the singer wed actress Jessica Biel last October - as a possible inspiration for the track.
Rolling Stone Magazine reviewer Jody Rosen called the single “a gift to the world's wedding DJs... an ode to dressing to the nines and going dancing”.
Pitchfork music website reviewer Stephen Deusner said the track was “one hell of a wedding reception jam, as bubbly as champagne”, while Billboard's Jason Lipschultz called the song a “sleek, wholly assured dance number”.
Timberlake, 31, who teased fans with cryptic Twitter messages last week, quickly became a trending topic on social media, along with the song.
MTV Buzzworthy's editor, Tamar Anitai, said the avid online response was no surprise, given Timberlake's vast fan base and the long wait for new music.
“None of his fans have gone anywhere. He's the type of artist who can take seven years between albums and his fans are still waiting outside his studio door,” Anitai told Reuters.
The singer's last album, FutureSex/LoveSounds in 2006, produced six hit singles including SexyBack, which brought the singer four Grammy awards.
Timberlake rose to fame as one-fifth of 1990's boy band N'Sync, becoming a pin-up for his good looks. He dated fellow singer Britney Spears.
After N'Sync parted ways in 2002, Timberlake launched his solo career with a new look and edgier sound in his debut solo album Justified, with songs like Cry Me A River and Rock Your Body, becoming chart hits. The album won a Grammy award.
His FutureSex/LoveSounds album arrived at the forefront of a new sound in the pop charts, fusing pop, R&B, hip hop and dance.
“FutureSex is what people are holding onto because it had that really futuristic sound from Timbaland,” Anitai said.
Timberlake took a musical hiatus the last five years to focus on his acting career. He appeared in 2010 Facebook film The Social Network, 2011's Friends with Benefits and last year's The Trouble With The Curve, alongside Clint Eastwood. - Reuters