Originally published Jan. 12, 2013 at Intersections.
My fellow Americans, we’ve been waiting for so long. Sometime in 2010 as I was flipping morosely through radio channels murmuring along to Ke$ha’s “Tik Tok” and mindlessly bumping to Taio Cruz, I think I actually had dreams that a day like today would come. I’m speaking, of course, of January 11, 2013, which I hope we’ll all remember as the day Destiny’s Child and Justin Timberlake both (both!) announced returns. Check out the full scoop and my initial thoughts on the disappointingly non-explosive “Nuclear,” after the jump.
In case you’ve just emerged from your rock: JT announced via this video on his website that he’s made music again, and that he’s finally deemed it ready for release. A single is expected to drop at midnight on Monday, which you can eagerly anticipate by watching a countdown here. Word on the Internets is incredibly prolific musicmaker Timbaland has returned for JT’s third album. Here’s to hoping it’ll be just as genre-twisting, earwormy, dense and perfect as FutureSex/LoveSounds, which by the way still sounds as good today as it did in 2006 (although that might just be because we’ve been assailed by Calvin Harris and David Guetta for three years).
Destiny’s Child (Michelle, Kelly and Beyonce) announced that all three of them will appear during Beyonce’s Feb. 3 Super Bowl performance, performing their new track, “Nuclear.” They’re also releasing a compilation album titled Love Songs Feb. 29, which is already available for pre-order on Amazon.
After a year that saw mainstream music seizing upon Frank Ocean (and Miguel, sort of) for its R&B-ish needs, the return of two of the brightest stars of the late-90s/early-2000s, that era when thudding, sensual jams invaded pop, is certainly good news for those of us who’re getting a little sick of the current electronic/dubstep regime. Or so I hope. If “Nuclear” is any indication, we’re doomed. Just as dubstep has somehow wormed its way into pop-rock, it appears synthwave/chillout has managed to invade R&B.
I mean absolutely no disrespect to Queen Bey, Destiny’s Child or producer Pharrell Williams when I say that “Nuclear” put me to sleep, only to be jolted back awake when 2004’s “Lose My Breath” came up next.
That’s pretty representative of the difference in “Nuclear” and what we’re used to hearing from Destiny’s Child. The Pharrell Williams production is 3:57 minutes of smooth, soothing midrange waves of sound blending seamlessly into midrange vocalizations set to an airy midtempo beat. In other words, it’s pretty average. It sounds like someone’s performing on a cruise ship, singing over a basic synthpop track. It’s a grower in the sense that you’ll listen to it, think you’ve heard it before and maybe put it in the background as you go about your business for a couple of weeks, but I can’t see it ending up on any “Best Of” lists, or even remaining in my rotation for too long.
In the context of Love Songs, the group’s compilation album release, I guess it makes sense that a lush midtempo chillwave song would make a nice filler track for 14 of Destiny’s Child’s best “contemporary torch songs and ballads.” I’m just not sure why they chose this as their return single, as the first new track we’ve heard in eight years. And I’m even more unsure as to why on earth they would choose to fit this into a Super Bowl show by Beyonce, who trades in hard-hitting, vocally impressive performances.
Sony gave Mashable the rights to a SoundCloud embed of “Nuclear,” which you can listen to here if you’d like. Or you could choose a brighter path and listen to “Cater 2 U” instead, before you retreat to spend some alone time with FutureSex/LoveSounds.