Sign o' the times: The return of Lovesexy

In January, Bowie, Destiny's Child, Justin Timberlake — and now Prince — have reemerged with surprise new tracks!

By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Senior Writer

Published January 23, 2013 8:56PM (EST)

    (AP/Balazs Mohai)
(AP/Balazs Mohai)

It must have been an interesting meeting when a bunch of the biggest names in music got together and decided that springing surprise new tracks on the fans was going to be officially a thing this January. So far already this year, David Bowie has celebrated turning 66 with his first new single in almost a decade, and a promise of an album in March. Then, right around the time Destiny's Child came back after eight years to go "Nuclear," Justin Timberlake broke his six-year musical silence with a return to "that thing I love called MUSIC" -- and a record-breaking new single and a promise of an album. And now, His Royal Badness, Mr. Lovesexy, the Artist Formerly Known as the Artist Formerly Known as Prince has unleashed his latest single in a sudden, seemingly out of nowhere move.The new track, "Screwdriver," appeared after a mysterious Twitter account called 3rd Eye Girl -- which happens to be the not-so-secret identity of  Prince guitar player Donna Grantis -- posted a link to it Tuesday. Kapow!

"Screwdriver" is a typically raunchy yet remarkably lightweight affair from the 54-year-old -- and the lyrics-strewn YouTube clip for it prove he's still the master of the kind of text-speak he pioneered long before anybody was texting. "I'm ur driver, ur my screw," he explains, undiminished in his love of a good party. Not seen in the clip: Prince himself, whose vocals are thinner for the wear but still unmistakable. Even after all these years, it's clear nothing compares 2 him.

Prince hasn't released an album since his newspaper-distributed freebie "20Ten" nearly three years ago. Now, he's letting it be known he's returning to the public eye – albeit in a quieter manner than the flamboyant badass of days past. He discusses his feelings about music rights in the new Billboard and been playing small gigs in Minneapolis this month in what looks like a run-up to an imminent tour. And if doesn't approach the genius of his "1999" era, "Screwdriver" is nonetheless the kind of boppy treat that makes the cold, cruel days of winter a little warmer, a tune content to be, in the words of the Hollywood Reporter, "a breath of fresh air." And like Bowie and Timberlake's comebacks, it's further happy proof that no matter how long January seems, just as spring eventually always returns, so, thank God, do our idols.



By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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David Bowie Destiny's Child Justin Timberlake New Music Prince Video