Resumption of Operation Ongoing Triumph, then…
Renato Pagnani: A slab of triumph with a titanic chorus to match, not to mention a standout T.I. verse. The Foxx that comes along for the ride isn’t so fantastic, though.
Anthony Easton: What are the socio-cultural implications of this being a JT track versus a Jamie Foxx track?
Alfred Soto: It’s been years that a Justin appearance on a track excited me enough to pay attention. To my surprise, he switches places with T.I.: Justin’s bit sounds committed while T.I’s is phoned in. Best hook: the sampled Justin falsetto. Best sampled Usher: Jamie Foxx’s vocal.
Al Shipley: Three guys who all mistakenly think wearing a nice suit makes them look like James Bond and/or Frank Sinatra proving that it’s possible to have actual grandeur in your life and still come off delusional.
Michaelangelo Matos: Thanks for the update, blowhard.
John Seroff: The pernicious influence of Khaled clings to “Winner” like rancid syrup on overripe peaches. All three of the principles acquit themselves adequately enough (especially T.I., who appears to be in the midst of a pop rampage), but the definitively generic production sounds like Timberlake made “Winner”’s beats with his promo copy of Beaterator.
Martin Skidmore: I really like the production on this (by JT’s The Y’s) — the foregrounded plinky piano particularly appeals, and there are lots of dramatic flourishes. Foxx is autotuned a little, and sounds completely uninteresting and rather stiff. T.I. is routine, and JT seems to have been too busy twiddling knobs (phwoar, he can twiddle my etc.) to make much of a vocal contribution. It’s a shame such star power and production skills are applied to a singer and song not deserving anything like so much.
Alex Ostroff: Neither Justin Timberlake, Jamie Foxx or T.I. are prone to anything resembling minimalism, so the beginning of “Winner” might throw you for a loop. The sparse and tinny chords that anchor Justin and Jamie’s loose verses might be underwhelming in isolation, but throwing Tip over nothing but a drumline is inspired. More importantly, “Winner” is all about the tension between those verses and the world-conquering chorus, which gains in majesty thanks to the stark contrast. The chorus beat is well worth it, though — another Southern monster of marching bands and martial drums (like a more triumphant “I’m Back”). That my first reaction to hearing this was “This was written for an NBA ad campaign, right?” either speaks volumes about my trust issues or Justin and Jamie’s tendency to whore themselves out for corporate dollars. Regardless, I’m lovin’ it.
Katherine St Asaph: A tip: putting “I feel like…” in your chorus deflates any further boasting. T.I.’s solid verse aside, this wants to be an NCAA champion when it’s better suited to the NIT.