By Todd Martens
8:42 AM PST, January 30, 2013
The Grammy Awards still have the ability to surprise. The Recording Academy unveiled this morning that Justin Timberlake will perform on the Feb. 10 telecast, his first musical appearance in support of his first new solo material since 2006.
Timberlake, a six time Grammy winner and two-time nominee for album of the year, will release "The 20/20 Experience" on March 19. Still a mystery -- for now, at least -- is whether Timberlake will use the Grammys to unveil a new song, or perform his recently released "Suit & Tie," his retro-minded soul single that features an assist from Jay-Z.
The Grammy Awards will air live except for the West Coast on CBS. Timberlake's "Suit & Tie" was at No. 4 last week on the U.S. pop charts, and has thus far sold 315,000 downloads in the U.S., according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Timberlake, in his relatively short career, has a long history with the Grammys. In 2009, He was asked to host the telecast (he declined), but he did perform that year with Al Green. The two staged a last-minute take of Green's "Let's Stay Together," a performance added after the Chris Brown assault on Rihanna forced the two off the Grammy broadcast.
The Timberlake performance is a big coup for the Recording Academy. There's no shortage of star power slated to perform at this year's Grammy Awards, with the likes of Taylor Swift, Jack White, Rihanna, Carrie Underwood and the Black Keys among those on the roster, but an appearance by Timberlake is tantamount to an award show event, as it gives the Grammys a performance from an artist who hasn't recently appeared elsewhere on television.
The 2012 Grammy telecast drew 40 million people -- its second-biggest audience ever behind the 1984 telecast that saw Michael Jackson sweep the awards. Yet interest last year was buoyed by preshow drama that can't be replicated, as viewers tuned in to see how artists would respond to the sudden passing of Whitney Houston a day earlier as well as to witness Adele's return to the stage after vocal surgery.
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