J.T. loses his edge.
Perennial headliner Justin Timberlake offered up the first resounding brick of his pop career Thursday night as his wedding-season snoozer “Can’t Stop the Feeling” made its iTunes debut. The single also landed on YouTube, in a celeb-fueled video full of—what else—lip-syncing.
Before you groan at your desk, remember that this is a song for children.
Timberlake is executive music producer of DreamWorks’ Trolls, a project in which he’s also a voice actor. It’s thus perfectly reasonable for the idol who found his voice working with cutting-edge rap producers like Pharrell and Timbaland to bring in gold-plated guru Max Martin for the soundtrack. That’s the 45-year-old Swedish mastermind who wrote chart-killers like “…Baby One More Time,” “Teenage Dream,” and “Shake it Off.”
The single made a mild Web thud upon its landing, too. According to Spredfast analytics, Timberlake tweets (just north of 12,000) were overshadowed by tweets about British singer-songwriter James Blake (20,000-plus) as of midnight ET; Blake likewise surprised the Internet with new music on Thursday.
But “Can’t Stop the Feeling” fails to stick and move because of its reverse-engineered gloss and its lack of setting. It boasts lyrics about sunshine in pockets and a pun about soul in feet as old as time. The disco bass line crawls at the same pace as another Martin smash, last summer’s “Can’t Feel My Face.” The claps and keyboard flurries exist for international, interchangeable clubs.
Good Morning America hosts will dance to it. And you’ll be tempted to at the next wedding when the goodwill is flowing like champagne in plastic, toast-specific flutes. Stay true to your instincts, however—this is opportunistic and cheap.
Correction: Timberlake is executive music producer of Trolls.
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