Looks like the “suit and tie shit” is working.
Justin Timberlake, the multihyphenate entertainer, succeeded in “bringing Gatsby back,” selling an estimated 950,000 to 975,000 first-week copies of his latest album, The 20/20 Experience, according to industry projections.
The first-week sales figures will be the highest for the boy bander cum pop superstar by a wide margin, besting the 439,000 copies sold for his debut solo album, Justified, and the 684,000 for his follow-up, FutureSex/LoveSounds. And it’s the highest-selling album since Taylor Swift’s Red, which bowed in October with 1.2 million copies sold. If sales of The 20/20 Experience—Timberlake’s first album in seven years—crack 1 million, it will also hold the distinction of being only the 19th album to sell a million copies in its first week sales since Nielsen SoundScan started monitoring album sales in 1991.
And if his stock wasn’t high enough already, an interview between Timberlake and TV host Jonathan Ross in which the Brit goads the 32-year-old pop star into doing five shots of his 901 Tequila in less than 10 minutes went viral this past week. It seemed to have done the trick, as Timberlake’s album also debuted at No. 1 on the U.K. charts, with 106,000 copies sold, making it the fastest-selling album of 2013 across the Atlantic.
The new album, meanwhile, marked an about-face of sorts for Timberlake.
Long gone are the ramen-noodle curls and denim getups of his ‘N Sync days and the shaved head and sonic-tinged R&B ditties during his post-Britney Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance period in favor of a pomaded coif, slick Tom Ford suits, and smooth R&B ballads backed by a horn section.
Even Don Draper himself, Jon Hamm, is impressed by Timberlake’s new style.
“I’m a big fan of Justin Timberlake,” Hamm told the Associated Press. “I think he’s a trendsetter, as they say. But he’s always been kind of a natty dresser. [He’s] a very fashion-forward kind of guy. That one unfortunate picture of him in that denim tuxedo excused.”
And Timberlake, by his own admission, seems to be channeling a certain Rat Packer when it comes to his new look.
“I don’t think there’s been one specific person other than Sinatra who has influenced my style,” he told Playboy.
Like Sinatra, Timberlake has grown to become the consummate showman, knocking out platinum-selling albums, starring in zeitgeist-y films like The Social Network, and evolving into one of the best Saturday Night Live hosts in recent memory. His latest hosting stint on the sketch-comedy TV program was so well-received, there are rumblings that he’s being considered to host the 2014 Oscars.
He might be too busy for the Academy, however.
Timberlake has a new album dropping in November—a companion piece of sorts to The 20/20 Experience, a summer stadium tour with his “Suit & Tie” co-conspirator Jay-Z dubbed the Legends of Summer tour, a rumored solo tour after that, and two films due out later this year: Runner, Runner, opposite Ben Affleck, and the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis.
“Sometimes I think back on the time [’N Sync] did five nights at Giants Stadium,” he told Playboy. “That was the moment I just looked around and thought, there’s nowhere for this to go but down. It’s never going to get bigger than this.”
Don’t worry, J.T. Perhaps, as Ol’ Blue Eyes once crooned, the best is yet to come.