I use the word “comeback” in the broadest sense here as I happen to think a comeback means coming back to music after a long break, whereas a lot of critics think it simply means beginning the promotion of a new album. But anyway; 2013 has so far seen quite a few comeback singles ranging from two years to ten and I am going to look at a number of them and argue why each of them work in their own way.
David Bowie – Where Are We Now?
Where Are We Now? and its subsequent album, The Next Day, are arguably both one of the greatest comebacks in music ever, as well as one of the best kept secrets in the age of leaks and hacks. ‘Where Are We Now?’ is down-tempo and haunting and so David Bowie. Bowie’s latest album has been lauded with critical praise. It has shown that Bowie is still completely relevant. Where Are We Now? saw Bowie’s best chart performance in the UK since 1986’s Absolute Beginners. ‘Where Are We Now?’ was the perfect choice of first single, showing that you don’t need fancy gimmicks or pounding dance tunes to create a classic hit.
Justin Timberlake – Suit & Tie
Suit & Tie served as the perfect comeback single for Justin Timberlake because it is clearly a genre that Timberlake loves. Timberlake’s comeback was widely known months before the release of his new single and it was highly-anticipated so he didn’t need to release a club track to have a hit. It was always going to chart well simply because his fans were desperate for more music from him. It may not be the best song from The 20/20 Experience and it may not be massively different from his previous material, but it is Timberlake doing what he does best and having fun, which it all boils down to in the end. Timberlake had a break of 7 years between albums and it’s clear that after the hiatus he came back refreshed and bigger than ever. His performance of ‘Mirrors’ at the BRITS 2013 was almost as good as Adele’s!
Daft Punk – Get Lucky
‘Get Lucky’ brought a refreshing change to the charts; it’s hard to imagine any other artist performing as well as Daft Punk off of the back of a disco song. ‘Get Lucky’ is flawless, highly down to Pharrell’s feature. His voice is so suited to the disco beats and it’s clear that the song just wouldn’t work without him. Praise also has to go to Nile Rodgers; the song originally was intended to feature piano, bass and drums but it’s Rodgers’ involvement that helped shape the disco vibe, a vibe which heavily runs throughout their album Random Access Memories, Daft Punk’s most well-received album to date. ‘Get Lucky’ and Random Access Memories are Daft Punk’s best performing material so far. 16 years after the release of their debut album, Daft Punk are still helping shape dance and house music around the world.
Lady Gaga – Applause
‘Applause‘ may not be Lady Gaga’s finest single, but it shows her finally dropping her insecurities of what her critics think of her and focusing on what is most important to her – how her fans receive her music, and not the critics themselves. This means she can have more fun, something which was finely showcased at her iTunes festival performance. ‘Applause’ was not experimental, something that Gaga has stated ARTPOP will be, but a lot of the new songs sound so: ‘Swine’ is heavy in EMD and dubstep beats; ‘ARTPOP’ saw Gaga channel hippy in a laidback pop belter; and ‘Jewels and Drugs’ saw Gaga step back into her hip-hop roots. So whilst ‘Applause’ may be slightly generic, it’s clear that a lot of her new songs will be more experimental and crazy and that ARTPOP will produce Gaga’s best material to date. With Bowie’s return to music this year I’m still holding out for a duet between the two!
Katy Perry – Roar
‘Roar’ should be so much better than it actually is. It sounds like a massive step backwards whereas ‘Teenage Dream’ was a giant leap forward. BUT, upon numerous listens, I have to admit that this song has hugely grown on me. It’s not her best song, yes, but it has performed amazingly in the charts showing that her comeback has been successful so far. So clearly I was wrong to doubt the power of the Perry. I just hope the rest of Prism is so much better on the ears.
Eminem – Berzerk
Berzerk also feels like a step back for Eminem, but it is a step back to greatness. There’s no denying that Eminem’s last few singles were amazing but they were also quite depressing and serious (see: ‘We Made You’ and ‘Love The Way You Lie’) whereas ‘Berzerk’, the lead single from the follow-up to 2000’s The Marshall Mathers LP, is simply fun, alike to a lot of singles from that period (see: ‘The Real Slim Shady’ and ‘Without Me’). I personally hope that the majority of the songs from The Marshall Mathers LP 2, dubbed as its sequel, follow suit. ‘Berzerk’ has so far been well received and performed reasonably in the charts so it’s looking good already!
Britney Spears – Work Bitch
2011’s ‘Femme Fatale’ was, in my opinion, criminally under-received and it didn’t perform as well as some of her previous work. A lot of people at the time started to disregard Britney. 2012’s ‘Scream & Shout’ by will.i.am in which Spears’ featured saw her rightfully back on top, and with will.i.am executively producing her new album I’m hoping for great things. ‘Work Bitch’ works in that it is quite unlike anything Spears has so far released, and it’s a massive grower. For Spears it is a giant step forward as she isn’t rehashing what she has already released. The radios and clubs are going to lap the song up and, with the right promotion, Spears should hopefully regain the top spot again. It’s been stated numerous times that Spears is making a comeback: could this be her best so far?