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Justin Timberlake's 'new song' is actually a Danish knock-off

January 3, 2011 |  2:08 pm

Lctfmmnc The dawn of 2011 held special promise, it seemed, for fans of Justin Timberlake's music. Though the nearly thirtysomething star recently told Times reporter Chris Lee that he's taking a break from music to pursue the presumably more serious goal of Oscar-nabbing, a shiny new sign to the contrary popped up late last week, in the form of a leaked new song, the frenetically finger-poppin' "Take You Down."

JT devotees greeted the song, supposedly produced by JT's old pals the Neptunes, with cautious excitement. Some bloggers noted that the vocals didn't really live up to the high standards of the falsetto-wielding future action hero, and most sources threw around the word "demo" to describe the song, which has a rump-shaking beat and some cute vocal effects, but doesn't exactly vault into the stratosphere.

Still, some of us were fooled. Such is the hunger for new material from the guy who's played a crucial role in helping 21st-century teen pop grow up.

So, even though "Take You Down" offered little more than promise, it was a bummer to hear that Timberlake really had nothing to do with it. Turns out it's by some would-be sensation named Rasmus Thude, whose name, look and overall vibe seem somewhat less marketable than the portfolio of your average boy-band graduate. Thude did, however, earn the following headline in May, from a website based in his native Denmark: "Rasmus Thude: DK's Justin Timberlake"? So maybe this case of mistaken identity was a case of viral coattail riding.

Had Thude never been found out, it wouldn't have been the first time an imitator filled in for an absent superstar. The television Monkees were supposed to be the Beatles, and the cartoon Archies were supposed to be the Monkees. Then there were the Rutles -- the great Monty Python spinoff band known for skewering Merseybeat in songs such as "Number One" and "Cheese and Onions." Milli Vanilli, of course, imitated pop itself.

The Timberlake kerfuffle raises the age-old question of authenticity in pop. Do we need a real new JT song? Or would a really fine fake do just fine?

-- Ann Powers

Photo: Justin Timberlake. Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times