by Miles Raymer
Britney and Justin have recently reunited on the pop charts: "Suit & Tie," from the long-awaited followup to Timberlake's 2006 FutureSex/LoveSounds is currently a number four, while Will.i.am's "Scream & Shout," featuring vocals by Spears, sits at number six. Ten years on, the erstwhile power couple is once again competing for the ears and asses of a dance-music-loving audience.
It's not much of a contest, really. Timberlake's the clear winner here, on a number of levels. After years of beefing up his filmography, pimping Myspace, making regular appearances on SNL, and doing basically everything except recording the sequel to a widely loved album, the excitement over the release "Suit & Tie" two weeks ago threatened to crash the entire Internet. Britney, on the other hand, spent the same span of time releasing so-so albums and engaging in tabloid-worthy antics that easily overshadowed her music and tested her media-saturated audience's patience.
Timberlake's single is also a collaboration with Jay-Z and Timbaland (who's sounding well-rested and relevant for the first time in recent memory) with an easygoing feel that imbues the whole thing with the feeling of being in the same room as three globally famous dudes just hanging out in the studio and kicking it. "Scream & Shout," on the other hand, is drenched in the frantic need to please that Will.i.am has made his trademark, while Britney seems barely present—if it wasn't for her name on the credits it would be hard to tell it's even her singing.
I haven't been out clubbing in a while so I can't even speak to anecdotal evidence, but I'm guessing that "Suit & Tie" is getting a lot more spins than "Scream & Shout," especially in the tastemaking scenes that Britney and Justin once battled to control. Back then it was fascinating to watch the two compete with each other. Now it's sadly one-sided.