Justin Timberlake put on his dancing shoes to pen this feel-good tune with Max Martin. It was the first time Timberlake had teamed up with the Swedish hitmaker since his 'N Sync days in the early 2000s. The "Suit & Tie
" singer's first new solo song in almost three years, it was released on May 6, 2016.
There are two verses in this song, but it's mostly a big chorus party. After a 7-second intro, the first verse tees up what's coming, as Timberlake warns:
I got this feeling inside my bones
It goes electric, wavey when I turn it on
The first pre-chorus comes in at the :25 mark ("I got that sunshine in my pocket...") and lasts about 30 seconds with a musical shift as Justin goes into the "And under the lights when everything goes" section. Since this section is so substantial, it needs a transition into the actual chorus, so that's why we hear the "just imagine" line echo in both channels before it kicks in with "Nothing I can see but you when you dance, dance, dance." His falsetto vocals add some texture and help smooth out the transition to the second (and last) verse, as he's really heating up:
Don't need no reason, don't need control
I fly so high, no ceiling, when I'm in my zone
The rest of the song is pre-chorus and chorus elements, including a bridge that breaks it down to the bassline and snaps with some classic JT interjections ("yeah," "uh"). The outro is essentially the last parts of the chorus extended.
The song was written for the animated movie Trolls. Timberlake also provides the voice of a grumpy-looking grey-blue troll called Branch in the Dreamworks film and is the executive producer of its soundtrack.
Speaking on SiriusXM's The Morning Mash Up show, Timberlake explained the process of writing songs for a soundtrack is more regimented than his solo work. "When I'm making a record for myself, I don't know, I feel like I have to take advantage of the fact that it's done when I love every song," he said,
Timberlake added that the Trolls sessions inspired him and "definitely bled over into writing a bunch of other things."
"Our task was to write a song that encapsulated the message of the movie, and by the way, we want people to be able to dance to it," Timberlake said on the red carpet leading up to the Oscars. "When I was watching the movie it reminded me of disco, so that's where I got the idea for a modern disco song."
This song is driven by a retro bassline in the Michael Jackson mold, but it also incorporates drums, electric guitar, strings, synthesizer, horns and some background chatter to accentuate the party vibe.
Two videos were made for this song. The first, posted on May 5, 2016, features cameos from Timberlake's Trolls co-stars. Among those dancing and lip-synching along to the beat are James Corden, Anna Kendrick, Gwen Stefani, Icona Pop, Undateable's Ron Funches, The Big Bang Theory's Kunal Nayyar and Timberlake's mom, Lynn.
The second video debuted May 16, and was directed by Mark Romanek. This one shows regular people dancing in and around various businesses in Los Angeles, including a diner, a car wash and a donut shop. At the end of this video, the song extends and the first names of the actors are shown as they re-appear.
Justin Timberlake told People he would never have written the song if it wasn't for Trolls. "Listening to [producer] Gina Shay and [directors] Mike Mitchell and Walt Dohrn talk about the movie and how it was really inspired by the '70s, I started bringing up the soundtrack from Saturday Night Fever, movies where the soundtrack was released before the movie and got people equally excited," he explained. "The movie seems like an unabashed pop song to me, so I was like, 'Let's just write an unabashed pop song.'"
This was crowned the Worst Song of 2016 by Time
magazine in its annual countdown. It beat out Iggy Azalea's "Team
," which was ranked #3 and the runner-up, Meghan Trainor's "Mom
So why does Time
dislike this so much? They wrote: "The insipid earworm - which was ostensibly recorded for an animated movie about trolls - became essentially unavoidable at any social gathering where someone in attendance was likely to use the phrase 'cut loose.' Forget the feeling - just please, please stop this song."
This won the Grammy Award for Best Song Written for Visual Media at the 2017 ceremony.
Justin Timberlake kicked off the 2017 Oscars with a performance of this song that took him from the back of the crowd to the stage; he incorporated some of the 1977 Bill Withers song "Lovely Day
" into it as well. "Can't Stop The Feeling!" was nominated for Best Original Song, but lost to "City of Stars
" from La La Land
According to the UK's record industry collecting society PPL, this was the most played song across UK radio, TV and public performance in 2016.
Timberlake closed out his performance at the 2018 Super Bowl halftime show with this song, leading a colorful troupe of dancers up the aisle at the stadium.