Remember Justin Timberlake circa Justified, when it came out that the boy-bander could actually make really good music, and everyone went completely bananas for the new album? Of course, you do, because it was unforgettable. That record was insane.
Today, the former ’NSYNC crooner released the video for “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” his first single since 2013, which was released May 6 and debuted at the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 this week. In the video, directed by Mark Romanek, Timberlake does his best impression of a dorky guy who just likes breakfast foods and dancing, and paints a portrait of a Los Angeles in which everyone just can’t control their need to dance, dance, dance.
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We want to love this song (which is from the movie “Trolls,” which could be part of the problem) and the video that goes along with it—we really, really do—but it is just. so. meh. Instead of wildly hitting “replay” when the vid concluded, we left with some questions, the most burning of which is: Did Timberlake mean to rip off the video from Pharrell Williams’s “Happy”? Because the two are very, very similar. Also: Why do people love watching other people dancing in supermarket aisles so much? And why, pray tell, do musicians love to incorporate characters from all walks of life dancing through their days in music videos?
If only Timberlake could’ve nailed this latter aesthetic, à la Missy Elliott’s “WTF,” in which a whole neighborhood rocks out to her song’s opening beats in a totally irresistible and super fun way. But that is … not the way his video plays out. We are all for dorky dancing, but there’s something a bit cringey about some of Timberlake’s video. Thankfully, this isn’t true throughout—the guy outside Venus Art & Flowers has energy that is truly infectious, and JT still has the moves, even if they are a little embarrassing.
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Dancing is definitely in RN, as Timberlake’s single ousted Drake’s “One Dance” from the top spot on the Billboard 100, and Rihanna’s “Work” has been in the top 10 for the past 16 weeks. “Can’t Stop the Feeling” certainly has a “Happy” vibe, but somehow Pharrell managed to make that video feel fresh. No matter, though: Timberlake’s latest is sure to be a hit all summer, wafting from windows near and far. If you can get past the awkwardness, it could be a total pick-me-up.