“Can’t Stop The Feeling” Track Review
Released May 6, 2016
Genre: Disco-Pop, Funk, Soul Pop
After Justin Timberlake’s blockbuster The 20/20 Experience, a double-album of sorts that helped continue his relevancy in his third decade of hit-making, he’s back with “Can’t Stop The Feeling”, a song from the soundtrack for DreamWorks’s Trolls. It was meant to be a fun, loose song about getting into your zone and jamming it out, away from all the negativity in the world or from the concern for others’ approval. In that regard, some have noted comparisons to Pharrell Williams’s “Happy”, another song written for a family-friendly animated feature. Others have noted it’s sonic similarity to “Can’t Feel My Face” by The Weeknd, another artist who takes a lot of influence from the Michael Jackson era of R&B and Funk. However, I feel it lyrically and thematically leans much closer to songs like “One More Time” by Daft Punk, “I Gotta Feeling” by The Black Eyed Peas, and “Move Your Feet” by Junior Senior, the latter of which will have a cover on the soundtrack as well, judging by the film’s first trailer. These songs, while not lyrically impressive, still manage to do a great job of capturing the energy and feel of a party, and definitely imply that each of their respective musicians had fun during their recording.
However, with this song in particular, I can’t help but feel Justin is selling himself short. The instrumentation is a little too bouncy and, combined with the somewhat slow tempo, provides a feeling of restraint and forced enthusiasm rather than the loose and naturally energetic display of getting your groove on provided by the previously-mentioned dance jams. It brings more into mind a parent or middle-school approved party rather than one that someone would actually want to attend by their own will. Instead of showcasing the swagger of his earlier songs like “Sexyback” and “Rock Your Body”, he instead brings on an image that feels that he’s trying a bit too hard to look hip in the face of a younger generation, coming off across more like a host for an early-education themed show. It almost feels like I’m listening to a completely different person.
It’s too early to say if this song is an indication of Justin’s newer musical direction. However, if he should start work on a new album shortly in the near future, I hope he at least decides to bring back the suaveness and charisma that make his previous solo output so endearing and fun to listen to. But as of now, my former enthusiasm for a new Justin Timberlake album is instead replaced with a cautious readiness in order to prepare for possible disappointment.