Song: ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling!’
Artist: Justin Timberlake
US chart peak: 1
Release date: May 6, 2016
Writers: Justin Timberlake, Max Martin, Shellback
Producers: Max Martin, Shellback, Justin Timberlake
Quintessential Max moment: The false start into the joyful final choruses
Video synopsis: Lots of white denim and ‘normal’ people dancing in front of ‘normal’ places
It’s interesting is it not that when Justin Timberlake and the rest of *NSYNC ‘parted ways’ in 2002, Timberlake decided not to carry on working with any of the Swedish songwriters or producers who’d helped make him one of pop’s most famous faces. I’m not saying he should have, or that he necessarily owed them anything, and it’s often the way that members of hugely successful pop bands decide to make a clean break once it’s time to go solo, but it’s still sort of interesting. Obviously things went quite well with his subseqent solo albums, and Pharrell and Timbaland seem to know what they’re doing, but I often* (*once a month or so) wonder what would have happened if he’d done a whole album with Max ‘et al’ from the outset.
Mind you, 2002 was also the time Nick Carter went solo and in fact Max helped out on that album and it flopped hard so maybe ‘JT’ was right (certainly 2002 was a relative fallow period in Max’s career).
Anyway, one thing Justin Timberlake never struck me as is stupid, however, and there’s only so long a brilliant popstar who’s experienced the Max midas touch can go without returning to the homeland, as it were. That brings us to ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling’, the long-awaited Max and Justin reunion from a film about Trolls that doesn’t quite live up to the sum of its parts. I like it, don’t get me wrong, but it’s possibly the whitest disco-tinged pop songs ever made and that’s saying something in a world that includes the likes of Olly Murs and ‘Charlie Puth’.
All the constituent elements work individually, and the chorus is nice and everything, but it’s so eager to please and so keen to tick every single box that there’s something cloying about it as a whole. Like its close musical cousin ‘Happy’, it sort of forces the joy on you (that bloody exclamation mark) rather than allowing you to find it in the song, if that makes any sense. Mind you, this will sound amazing when you’re drunk at a wedding and sometimes that’s all you want really.
What I will say about it is that it finishes in a much more exciting place then it starts, which is very typical Max actually. Also, Justin’s falsetto on the “can’t stop the feeling” backing vocal bits is properly amazing.