Justin Timberlake's 'Suit & Tie' Aiming For Bigger Debut Than 'SexyBack'

Justin Timberlake/Facebook

Justin Timberlake

As reported yesterday (Jan. 14), Justin Timberlake's new single "Suit & Tie" is selling briskly and bound for a big first-week sales figure.

Label sources suggest that "Suit & Tie" may sell around 330,000 - 350,000 downloads by the end of the tracking week on Sunday, Jan. 20. That would easily earn Timberlake his best sales week ever for a song, surpassing the 250,000 that greeted "SexyBack" in 2006.

"Suit & Tie" is exclusively available to purchase via the iTunes Store. It's the first single from his forthcoming third album, "The 20/20 Experience," due later this year. It follows his No. 1 Billboard 200 album "FutureSex/LoveSounds," which debuted atop the tally in 2006.

Yesterday, Billboard had projected that "Suit & Tie" could approach 400,000 in first-week sales. But, that forecast was based on very early data. We warned that the number would change after its first full day's worth of sales could be examined, and thus better project its debut week.

How does "Suit & Tie's" forecasted first-week stack up when compared to other recent notable debuts? Actually, pretty great -- but not off-the-charts spectacular.
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Only seven songs in the past year have debuted with 300,000 or more in sales, thus, "Suit & Tie" could be in pretty elite company. The largest sales week of 2012 was registered by Taylor Swift's "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," which debuted with 623,000 sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

Some observers may wonder why -- after Timberlake's long absence from from the music scene -- "Suit & Tie's" sales may not match those of Swift or even Justin Bieber, who saw his "Boyfriend" bow with 521,000 earlier in 2012. Unlike those tracks, which arrived after weeks of promotion and buzz, Timberlake's song bowed only a few days after a surprise announcement from the singer.
Also working against Timberlake is that his fan base has likely aged since his last album. They aren't seemingly as fast-reacting as the young teen and tween fans of Swift and Bieber.

HOT 100 (AND AIRPLAY) ACTION: Meanwhile, in terms of airplay, "Suit & Tie" ranks at No. 6 on the building Pop Songs airplay chart with approximately 2,000 pop radio spins in just more than a day and a half, according to Nielsen BDS. The song will make a lofty debut on Pop Songs when the chart is refreshed on Monday (Jan. 21).
While Pop Songs runs on a Monday-through-Sunday cycle, the all-format Radio Songs chart covers airplay on a Wednesday-through-Tuesday tracking period, so yesterday and today's airplay should help spur a debut for the song on the Hot 100 this week based on airplay alone. (Sales and streaming data run Monday-through-Sunday and will not affect the Hot 100 until next week).
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In the meantime, "Suit" should debut on this week's Hot 100 thanks to its approximately 31 million all-format audience impressions garnered since its release, which should translate to a top 40 start on the Radio Songs chart and a debut in the Hot 100's lower half. (This week's Hot 100 will be released on Thursday [17], with highlights posted on Billboard.com tomorrow.)
Once sales and streaming are added -- and a full week's-worth of airplay factors in -- the song could challenge for the top of the Hot 100 next week.

"Suit & Tie" will mark Timberlake's 21st Hot 100 entry. It's his first radio-promoted single as a lead artist since "Until the End of Time" (a duet with Beyonce) reached No. 17 in late 2007.


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