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Why This Song Sucks: Justin Timberlake's "Can't Stop the Feeling!"

Let’s get this out of the way early. Justin Timberlake’s “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” is going to be the most unavoidable song of summer 2016. It will own weddings, graduations and any public outing where there are a ton of people who want to dance like Mary Katherine Gallagher. It will be spoofed countless times over for quick viral fame. It will already have given Timberlake another No. 1 single (sorry, Drake) and make fans begin to clamor for another JT album. It’s a song for a kids' movie (Trolls) that doesn’t come out for another six months.

Also, above is not the most flattering screenshot in the world of JT, who looks like he'd probably stab you if you didn't get his doughnut order right. Or you didn't enjoy your Grand Slam from Denny's.

"Can't Stop The Feeling!"is a soulless husk masked as a first cousin to Pharrell Williams’s “Happy"; it's not like Robin Thicke completely stealing Marvin Gaye’s whole aesthetic for “Blurred Lines,” but it's damn close. With its pretentious-ass exclamation point, “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” confirms what I’ve believed for a long, long time now: Justin Timberlake is a sentient being who probably peaked with FutureSex/LoveSound , and now makes music solely to drive you into any form of boredom.

So yes, this song sucks, but not in the traditional sense. The lyrics aren’t terrible; they’re appropriately cheesy for the moment. When you’re making music for kids, you leave all of the innuendo out of it. Rather, this song sucks because you remember when Timberlake used to create moments like this that didn’t feel..shall we say, shameless?

Remember how “Suit & Tie” became a joyous piece of arguably 2013’s first good album? It used to take a minute before we wanted to immediately shuffle off to the next song or moment with Timberlake. By God, the man made “SexyBack” become eternal during my undergrad days when T-Pain was doing the same with a little Auto-Tune. It just feels like ever since the lazy, empty money-grab that was the second 20/20 Experience, Timberlake has been far more concerned with being happily married to Jessica Biel, being a good dad and possibly starring in movies than with putting in any effort to make decent music.

We thought Justin was above making the Desiigner version of "Happy." Sadly, we thought wrong.

Think of what ingredients Max Martin (current king of pop producers) and Shellback used to create this monstrosity. All of these sounds are familiar to us: There’s a dash of Marvin Gaye, a pinch of Michael Jackson, some childlike falsetto to appeal to the kids, and even a dance video to boot. It’s as if Martin, Shellback and Timberlake went to a drawing board and essentially told us, “We’re gonna trace over Pharrell’s entire 'Happy' blueprint and erase a few things to make it seem like it's all our own. It’s perfectly fine!”

Here’s what we’ve gathered in a post-“Happy” world in order to create an indelible hit pop song, particularly for kids.

Step 1:
Listen to “Happy."

Step 2:
Watch the “Happy” video.

Step 3:
Wait for a kids' movie that’s gonna have a soundtrack.

Step 4:
Take things people already like and love for your song.

Step 5:
Record it.

Step 6:

Considering that we’re already in Song of the Summer territory, “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” is already ahead of the pack. Which means we’re getting closer and closer to our darkest days — when either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump walks out to this during her or his acceptance speech for President of the United States.

Thanks, Justin Timberlake: You may have soundtracked not only a kids' movie, but the apocalypse too.

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Brandon Caldwell has been writing about music and news for the Houston Press since 2011. His work has also appeared in Complex, Noisey, the Village Voice & more.
Contact: Brandon Caldwell