Call it a comeback

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David Bowie, Black Sabbath, and Justin Timberlake duke it out for the ultimate comeback album

Paul Bogdan
A&C Editor

To set the scene for our Internet-less, cave-dwelling friends, recently new music is said to be coming from David Bowie, Justin Timberlake, and the original Black Sabbath lineup (except for Brad Wilk of RATM/Audioslave fame who’s filling in on drums). So, with three albums due from three artists who have all had tons of success in the past, who will have the best comeback album? And, if the world of professional wrestling has taught me anything, it’s that arguments (no matter about what) are best settled in free-for-all cage matches.

Hearing the announcer introduce Justin Timberlake and his new album, The 20/20 Experience, as his first release in seven years threw me off a bit, probably because in the odd even that I’m somewhere where I’d hear “Sexy Back” or any of the other singles from Future Sex/Love Sounds (i.e. anywhere there’s dancing), I jam out to that shit like it’s still 2006. And, given his recent success on screen, it was like JT never really left.

However, much quieter during the past decade was David Bowie, so quiet JT doesn’t hear Bowie sneak up behind him and put him in a belly-to-back suplex, cackling, “Thought I was done, didn’t you, you sexy little punk?” After not releasing anything for 10 years, you can’t really blame JT for failing to see that coming from Bowie.

Yet, all this time Ozzy’s been laying on the ground in the corner of the ring, presumably drunk/stoned, asleep, or dead (no one’s really sure which), when out of the blue he staggers up, climbs the cage, announces his first release with Sabbath since 1978, and in his drunken stupor, falls atop an all-too-pleased David Bowie.

But the only reason Ozzy actually got an offensive move in this fight was because who in their right minds would think “a new album from Ozzy and Sabbath in 2013” would ever be a factual statement. Although maybe we should have clued in, given the last album they released together was titled Never Say Die!. Regardless, it’s a miracle that dude is even alive, but it’ll be a bigger miracle if Sabbath’s 13 will be anything but a turd. Bowie may be older too, but age seems to have been a fairer muse to him than his metal counterpart; he may be older than Ozzy, but Bowie’s still got it – at least comparatively speaking.

And then there’s Justin, looking at the other two as blood drips from bleeding, broken, and somehow still dreamy facial features. Bowie got him with the sneak attack. Touché. But the glory days of both Ozzy and Bowie have passed. The argument could probably be made that they’ve passed for JT too, but if that’s the case, he can definitely still feel the warm glow of the stage lights of the early 2000s.

This is also reflected in the lead singles from both The Next Day and The 20/20 Experience. Bowie’s “Where Are We Now” doesn’t sound like much more than a mediocre Bowie tune from the ‘80s. It doesn’t sound like the return of one of music’s most iconic figures; it sounds like a tired, old man. “Suit & Tie”, save for the banal intro, has a great deal more vigor, with JT’s playful tenor melodies that sound like they’re coming from someone who can at least pretend to sound like they’re enjoying the new music they’re creating.

Bowie has put out some groundbreaking albums in the past, but unless he can do that yet again with The Next Day, it’ll be all too easy for Justin Timberlake to deliver the final blow in this imagined comeback album wrestling match and walk off victorious, past a defeated Bowie and once again passed out Ozzy – who never really had any chance in this fight anyway.

Photo illustration by Kyle Leitch

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