The Justin Timberlake song “Can’t Stop the Feeling” has already topped the charts in more than a dozen countries and won the Grammy for Best Song Written for Visual Media, in which he competed against songs by Peter Gabriel, Shakira and Pink, among others. Now it faces its toughest task of all: taking down “La La Land” in the Oscar race for Best Original Song.
That’s a tall order. Timberlake explains in a video premiering exclusively at TheWrap that he wasn’t originally sure he and co-writers Max Martin and Karl Johan Schuster (Shellback) would be able to pull off a pop song that could not only work on its own, but also work when put in the mouths of the animated characters in the film “Trolls.”
“This has to work for the moment, these characters, and be filmic,” Timberlake says in the video. “It took a second to crack the code. I remember thinking, ‘We’re not gonna be able to do this.'”
In an interview with TheWrap, Timberlake added, “This wasn’t just like writing a song for a movie – it was writing a song for characters that are going to sing it in the movie.
“That part had to work, and that’s the part that made it a task that none of us had ever done. And we had to push ourselves to do something that works in that way.”
The key, he says in the video: “Once we got the hook going, that’s usually how it goes. Once you get the hook you can base everything off that.”
“Can’t Stop the Feeling” is competing at the Oscars against two songs from “La La Land,” “City of Stars” (the favorite) and “Audition (the Fools Who Dream),” as well as Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “How Far I’ll Go” from “Moana” and Sting and J. Ralph’s “The Empty Chair” from the documentary “Jim: The James Foley Story.”
Timberlake will also be performing the song on the Oscar show, Sunday, Feb. 26.