3-Way (The Golden Rule)

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"3-Way (The Golden Rule)"
The Lonely Island - 3-Way (The Golden Rule) cover.png
Single by The Lonely Island featuring Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga
from the album The Wack Album
ReleasedMay 24, 2011 (2011-05-24)
FormatDigital download
RecordedMay 20, 2011
GenreNew jack swing
LabelUniversal Republic
The Lonely Island singles chronology
"We'll Kill U"
"3-Way (The Golden Rule)"
Justin Timberlake singles chronology
"3-Way (The Golden Rule)"
"Suit & Tie"
Lady Gaga singles chronology
"The Edge of Glory"
"3-Way (The Golden Rule)"
"You and I"

"3-Way (The Golden Rule)" is a song recorded by American comedy music group The Lonely Island featuring American singers Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga. It appeared as an SNL Digital Short in the May 21, 2011 episode of the American sketch comedy television series Saturday Night Live (SNL), which saw Timberlake and Gaga as the host and musical guest, respectively. It was released as a single on May 24, three days after the broadcast. The R&B song was written by Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, and Timberlake, while produced by The Futuristics with additional production from Asa Taccone and Ryan & Smitty. Samberg and Timberlake were nervous about presenting the idea to Gaga, who initially failed to find the humor in the song.

The music video, which aired on the SNL broadcast, is a sequel to the "Motherlover" sketch and finds Samberg and Timberlake reprising their roles from that skit as they sing about having a threesome with Gaga. The song and sketch received positive reviews from critics who called it one of the funniest moments of the episode. "3-Way (The Golden Rule)" received a nomination at the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics, but it lost to another song from the same SNL episode.

Background and writing[edit]

In the midst of the announcement that Justin Timberlake would host Saturday Night Live on May 21, 2011, many media commentators speculated that there would be a recurrence of the two characters that he and comedian Andy Samberg portrayed in past SNL Digital Shorts ("Dick in a Box" and "Motherlover").[1] Speculation only increased when photos of Samberg and Timberlake shooting a music video, donning the same suits worn in "Dick in a Box", were released to the media.[2]

The track named "3-Way (The Golden Rule)", was written on May 19, with the music video being shot a day later. It was written by Andy Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone, Justin Timberlake, and The Futuristics, with the latter producing the track with Asa Taccone and Ryan & Smitty.[3] Samberg confirmed that the song was written with keeping Gaga in mind since she was set to appear on Saturday Night Live that week, along with Timberlake. "We knew we wanted to do another one with Justin and thought it would be awesome to get [Gaga] involved just to up the ante, because we had already done two", he concluded.[4]


A new jack swing song, "3-Way (The Golden Rule)"'s premise follows the early 1990s pop duo (Samberg and Timberlake) finding themselves invited to a threesome with "the girl [they] met at the Payless ShoeSource" (Gaga).[5][6][7] Gaga's character acknowledges that "most guys won't freak together," but the two conclude that "it's not gay, when it's in a three-way," and that they should follow "The Golden Rule". The song features a reference to the sitcom Three's Company.[8] Gaga related the nervousness of Samberg and Timberlake asking her to do the song in an interview on May 23:

I wish that they filmed the backstage scenario as both Justin and Andy Samberg tried simultaneously to pitch this idea to me and they both choked on the way in. Justin was like 'Umm so umm, we have a skit idea and umm, well I'm not really good at this I'll have Andy tell you.' Then Andy came and was like 'Well umm bluh blah we have this skit idea.' Then they both came in finally and they told me the story and I'm like, 'Guys, I get it.' They're like 'We really like each other.'"[9]

Critical response[edit]

The song and sketch received positive reviews from critics. Matt Donnelly of the Los Angeles Times praised the skit, writing, "Timberlake and Samberg work an intentionally cheesy R&B shtick with hilarious results."[10] Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly commented, "The old-school rap details were impeccable as always," though he was unsure about the intentions of the song's lyrics. "I'm going to give [The Lonely Island] the benefit of the doubt and say the lyric was a satire of the fear of being thought gay," he continued.[11] Nick Carbone of Time called the skit "hilarious" and praised Gaga's acting abilities in the skit and throughout the SNL episode.[12] The Hollywood Reporter's Aaron Couch wrote that with the skit, "Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg may have topped their Emmy-winning digital short D--- in a Box [sic]."[6] People's Alla Byrne and The Wall Street Journal staff both listed it as one of the funniest moments of the episode.[13][14] A writer for Rolling Stone complimented Gaga's addition to the track, saying "Gaga is a delight in this bit, and not just because she looks kinda amazing when done up as an early-Nineties bridge-and-tunnel fox. Just check out the look on her face when Samberg and Timberlake do their 'helicopter dick' routine. Pure gold!"[7]

However, Annie Galvin from Slant Magazine criticized the song, saying that the composition of the track was comparable to that of their previous release "Motherlover", explaining that it fell "flatter than most of the other songs on the album".[15] "3-Way" received a nomination for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics at the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards. However, it lost to the song "Justin Timberlake Monologue" from the same episode of SNL.[16]

Music video[edit]

The music video for "3-Way" was shot on May 20, 2011, the same day the song was recorded, and aired as the SNL Digital Short during the May 21 SNL broadcast.[3] Timberlake and Samberg appear in the video as their characters aka "2:30 AM,"[17] from the "Dick in a Box" and "Motherlover" sketches.[18] "3-Way" is a sequel to the "Motherlover" sketch.[13] The clip begins with each half of the duo exiting the house of the other's mother (played by Patricia Clarkson and Susan Sarandon)[18] as the mothers grab the young men seductively. Timberlake and Samberg then greet each other, simultaneously saying, "Your mom says hi. Jinx!" before they are seen in various locations around town as they sing the song's introduction ("yeah yeah yeah" repeated several times). Timberlake sings about his plans to have a sexual encounter with a girl he met the previous week at a Payless ShoeSource store, while Samberg reveals similar plans about "a cutie [...] who loves the way I knock on her boots." They then leave, agreeing to meet back with each other in a few hours. They are both then seen outside of Gaga's apartment, where it is revealed that both of them agreed to have sex with her, though they did not know the other was also planning to do the same. She explains that she invited them both there so that they could have a threesome, which they quickly agree to do, citing the "golden rule" that "it's not gay when it's in a 3-way." Later, Gaga walks back into the bedroom with a bowl of cereal to find Timberlake and Samberg under the covers together, apparently not realizing she has left.

Credits and personnel[edit]

Credits and personnel adapted from The Wack Album liner notes.[3]


"3-Way (The Golden Rule)" debuted at number 7 on the Gaon Download Chart, with sales of 42,274 copies.[19] In the United States it reached a peak of number 3 on the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles chart, while reaching number 1 on the Comedy Digital Tracks chart.[20][21]

Chart (2011) Peak
South Korean International Singles (GAON)[19] 13
US Bubbling Under Hot 100 Singles (Billboard)[20] 3
US Comedy Digital Tracks (Billboard)[21] 1


  1. ^ Hughes, Jason (May 23, 2011). "SNL Digital Short: '3-Way' With Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga and Andy Samberg". TV Squad. Retrieved May 24, 2011.
  2. ^ Hartsell, Carol (May 22, 2011). "Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga & Andy Samberg In Three-Way SNL Digital Short". HuffPost. Retrieved May 24, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c "Taccone is listed in the credits as having helped write an "Additional Sketch", and as having co-directed this short.". The Wack Album (CD Liner notes). The Lonely Island. Republic Records. 2013. p. 8. B001856010.CS1 maint: others (link)
  4. ^ Kompanek, Christopher (June 17, 2013). "The Lonely Island talks about the slightly more mature Wack Album". The A.V. Club. Retrieved October 1, 2015.
  5. ^ Carbone, Nick (May 23, 2011). "Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg Join Lady Gaga for 'Threeway' on SNL Finale". Time. Retrieved May 24, 2011.
  6. ^ a b Couch, Aaron (May 22, 2011). "Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga on SNL: The Best Sketches (VIDEO)". The Hollywood Reporter.
  7. ^ a b "Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga Have '3-Way' with Lonely Island on 'SNL". Rolling Stone. May 22, 2011. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  8. ^ Wagner, Curt (May 23, 2011). "Justin Timberlake, Andy Samberg, Lady Gaga caught in '3-way'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 24, 2011.
  9. ^ Perricone, Kathleen (May 23, 2011). "Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg were nervous to ask Lady Gaga to do '3-Way' skit on SNL". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on May 25, 2011. Retrieved May 24, 2011.
  10. ^ Donnelly, Matt (May 23, 2011). "Justin Timberlake scores Lady Gaga and Andy Samberg for '3-Way' on 'SNL'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  11. ^ Tucker, Ken (May 22, 2011). "'Saturday Night Live' season finale recap: Justin Timberlake and Lady Gaga, a formidable team". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  12. ^ Carbone, Nick (May 22, 2011). "WATCH: Justin Timberlake and Andy Samberg Join Lady Gaga for 'Threeway' on SNL Finale". Time. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  13. ^ a b Byrne, Alla (May 22, 2011). "5 Funniest Moments from SNL's Season Finale". People. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  14. ^ "'Saturday Night Live' With Lady Gaga and Justin Timberlake: The Best Bits". The Wall Street Journal. May 22, 2011. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  15. ^ "The Lonely Island: The Wack Album". Slant Magazine. June 11, 2013. Retrieved January 10, 2015.
  16. ^ "Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics 2011". Primetime Emmy Awards. Academy of Television Arts & Sciences. Retrieved May 12, 2012.
  17. ^ http://www.wmagazine.com/people/celebrities/2011/10/justin-timberlake-amanda-seyfried-in-time-cover-story/
  18. ^ a b Hartsell, Carol (May 22, 2011). "Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga & Andy Samberg In Three-Way 'SNL Digital Short' (VIDEO)". HuffPost. Retrieved October 3, 2011.
  19. ^ a b "에 대한 검색결과 입니다" [Download Chart: Week 28, 2011] (in Korean). GAON. Retrieved July 8, 2011.
  20. ^ a b "Lonely Island Chart History (Bubbling Under Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
  21. ^ a b "Comedy Digital Tracks: Week of June 11, 2011". Billboard. Retrieved December 2, 2014.

External links[edit]