Reviewing the ‘Billboard’ Hot 100: Justin Timberlake — “Can’t Stop The Feeling!”

PREVIOUS NO. 1: “One Dance” by Drake. Poor Drake only held the top spot for a week. His next hit will likely be an introspective emotional ditty about the loneliness of being on top for a hot sec. They say they miss the old Drake: We do.

[UPDATE: I started writing this before “One Dance” shot back to No. 1. I’m not taking the above out.]

WHAT’S THE SONG’S DEAL?: Justin Timberlake hadn’t came out with a new song since the dutifully considered The 20/20 Experience, with its two volumes, 21 songs, and two goddamn hours of Timbaland-made songs. The couple of singles were attractive and whatever, but it it went on and on and on and on and on and on and on and — you get it. A song called “Take Back the Night” was ill informed.

For his first song of 2016, JT went back to his ’90s roots and recruited the most successful producer to ever grace the charts, the most powerful Swede since King Carl XVI Gustaf and ABBA: Max Martin. Martin has made hits almost as long as I’ve been alive, which is a intimidating level of success.

Timberlake’s last return single, “Suit & Tie,” had subversive hints with the beat change, Jay Z feature, and David Fincher lensing the music video. There’s none of that showing up in Daddy Timberlake’s track. The verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus pop format is here, naturally. The first hook appears juuuuuuuuuust before the 1-minute mark — a Martin must — and commands the listener to do something. It pans under 4 minutes.

Hearing this from JT is somewhat disappointing. It’s for the lowest-common denominator. Anyone could have lent their vocals for this. It’s not a special Timberlake cut. It’s like he’s going full modern Maroon 5/Adam Levine and foregoing any semblance of creativity. Meh.

MUSIC VIDEO: Well, there are two. The candid cast vid/Trojan Horse ad for Trolls shows Timberlake and all his costars. It has more views, but fuck that. The real one is much weirder and demands discussion.

A lot of wacky people are dancing like my dad in a 4:3 aspect ratio, while JT rocks some classy white Stan Smiths, drinking coffee, and munching on pie out in Eagle Rock. Their dancing is “adorkable” or whatever the mot du jour is for Zooey Deschanel.

There are two certifiable Gs. First is the Randy Donut’s go, holding down Inglewood and proving it might be up to some good. Galen — aka poor man’s Rivers Cuomo — lives his best life.


Swimmer kid is also my hero and whom I wish I was back in the day. Lev, listen to me: Rock those goggs before puberty makes you feel awkward about them.

kid swimmer

As for the rest? More or less a monstrosity, headlined by Timberlake dancing along with an inflatable car dealer mascot. No, this really happened. It probably got little Silas Timberlake laughs, but it’s dumb. I never want anyone in any form of media to dance like Dee Reynolds.

PROJECTED LASTING POWER: I thought this would last for much longer, but Drake already sneaked his way to No. 1. “Can’t Stop The Feeling!” sounds too infectious to not claw its way back. Martin doesn’t do one-week stints at the top. HE WILL HAVE HIS REVENGE, TOUT DE SWEDE.

FAVORITE HOT 100 SONG OF 2016?: Not with Ariana back.

FAVORITE POP SONG OF 2016?: Nonononononononononono.

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