Why “CAN’T STOP THE FEELING!” Is The Best Generic Pop Hit Of 2016

May 17, 2016 · 3 min read

Justin Timberlake is back. Well, sorta. The singer released a new single on May 6 titled “CAN’T STOP THE FEELING!” (yeah…) from the soundtrack of the upcoming animation movie Trolls. Sounds familiar? Probably because DreamWorks is doing exactly what Universal and Illumination Entertainment did with Pharrell and his Despicable Me 2 hit “Happy”, which was the best-selling song of 2014 in the US and remained 10 consecutive weeks at Billboard’s Hot 100 number one. So with Trolls scheduled to be released on November 4, they needed a hit song. This is how “CAN’T STOP THE FEELING!” hits all the right boxed to be so.

  1. Hire some hitmakers. DreamWorks went with the two best dudes of the industry, the infamous duo Max Martin and Shellback. Together they have created hits like Pink’s “Raise Your Glass”, Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space” or Ariana Grande’s “Problem”. They know how to write a pop song, trust me. Instrumental bridge with no new lyrics included.
  2. Have a viral video. Or at least a video that could be viral, whether it actually does doesn’t really matter at the end of the day. That means you need to create a choreography so people on Vine can teach your listeners how to dance it. That means you need to hire some “famous” people to casually show up there — in this case, Anna Kendrick, James Corden, Icona Pop, Gwen Stefani, Ron Funches and Kunal Nayyar. It’s also appreciated if you can hire a legitimately good video director, like for example Mark Romanek, who directed Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”.
  3. Make a “Happy” song. The “FEELING!” the song depicts is crucial. Seriously, though, a happy song is ten times more likely to be a pop hit (and that’s a completely invented bullshit I just created but science science Google search science and you’ll realize I’m right). You also need to be really upfront and clear about it, so people from across the world can listen to your song and instantly know that shit is about happiness. Since somebody already created a song titled “Happy”, you’ll need to do some work-around, like maybe talk about a very specific feeling everybody knows without actually saying it out loud? That could work. You can focus on what people should do when they hear your song on the radio — because this is supposed to be a big fucking hit, remember? The result could be something like the word “feeling” appearing 23 times throughout the song, while “dance” and “dancing” 46. Pharrell’s “Happy” used its main word even more (57 times) but his song only had one. Example of a great chorus:

Nothing I can see but you when you dance, dance, dance
A feeling good, good, creeping up on you
So just dance, dance, dance, come on
All those things I shouldn’t do
But you dance, dance, dance
And ain’t nobody leaving soon, so keep dancing
I can’t stop the feeling
So just dance, dance, dance
I can’t stop the feeling
So just dance, dance, dance, come on

And you know what? It worked. Billboard described it as a “delightful feel-good jam”, Music Times said it gave off “a feeling of pure joy” and “happiness”, CNN went to say it was just “what [we] need[ed]” — “If Friday had a sound, it would be this song”, they wrote. And it’s true — the song is insanely catchy, extremely punchy and well produced (that groove is killer), and Timberlake’s performance is on point as always.

I’ve been listening “CAN’T STOP THE FEELING!” for 50 minutes now and — although right now I’d want to throw my computer off the window and kill whoever thought that was a good idea (Editor’s note: that was you) — I see myself hearing it everywhere I go for the next couple of months and still enjoy it.

This Will Be Me

Everything I write.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch

Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore

Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store