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Justin Timberlake, Can't Stop The Feeling

Photo of Justin Timberlake Can't Stop The Feeling

Justin Timberlake, Can't Stop The Feeling

The DNA of a strong song for an animated film—in Western terms, anyway—can be traced to (1) lyrics about perseverance, following one’s dreams, building self-confidence, or any likeness thereof; (2) a (usually optional) musical peak to evoke elation, often resulting in spontaneous sing-alongs; and finally, (3) juvenile one-liners and puns.

Photo of Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake

Recent examples from animated film scores fitting one or more of these criteria include “Try Everything” from Zootopia—“I won’t give up, no I won’t give in” as a token lyric—and “Way Back When” from Mr. Peabody & Sherman—although its acoustic, drum-heavy production is not within the norm. The “na-na-nana-na-nana-na-na” choral chanting and the lyrical depiction of friendship are, however.

We can also add “Can’t Stop the Feeling” to the list, the Justin Timberlake-penned theme to DreamWorks’ upcoming film Trolls.

No attempts are made to disguise it as anything but an innocent, lively dance song with a familiar air of spunk.

Unlike its more familiar, incessantly jovial counterpart “Happy,” the song’s longevity is not resting squarely on a repetitive chorus. In fact, the “dance, dance, dance” chorus may be its weakest component, given Timberlake’s pedigree. What surrounds it, however, is a catchy flow. The way Timberlake breaks up the lyric “moving so phe-no-mi-nal-ly;” the teasing transition of “just imagine, just imagine, just imagine;” as well as the rallying closer “got this feeling in my body, c’mon/ wanna see you move your body” are areas where the song thrives, tossing in a pun for good measure (“good soul in my feet”).

It’s not an anthem of determination as some of Disney’s output, and as a Justin Timberlake song, it’s a tad underwhelming. But viewed independent of those factors, “Can’t Stop the Feeling” fits nicely into the standard mold, while not itself being a larger accomplishment.