In case it wasn’t already obvious that Justin Timberlake’s new single, “Can’t Stop the Feeling!,” is vying to be this summer’s “Happy,” the music video for the song, from the upcoming DreamWorks Animation film Trolls, looks strikingly similar to the clip for Pharrell’s 2013 smash, which was also recorded for an animated film. Aside from its aspect ratio, there’s little to distinguish Timberlake’s video from that of the infuriatingly ubiquitous “Happy”: Both were shot in sunny Los Angeles and feature “regular” but charmingly eccentric people dancing in their local habitats, a concept that already felt trite three years ago. Directed by Mark Romanek, the man responsible for some of the greatest music videos of all time, “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” is, at best, an innocuous visual interpretation of an innocuous song. Coming from two titans of the industry, it’s a shockingly derivative, lazy bore.
Happy (#1–10 of 3)
After “Baby Don’t Lie,” the first single from Gwen Stefani’s long-awaited third solo album, flamed out, the No Doubt frontwoman is falling back on old tricks, teaming up with longtime collaborator Pharrell Williams for the follow-up, “Spark the Fire.” Not to put too fine a point on it, she half-raps, “OMG, OMG, I’m back again…Finally remembering what is me/That is what happens when I get with P[harrell],” and sings about “losing focus” during the bridge. Williams has been experiencing a bit of a renaissance the last couple of years, racking up accolades for Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky,” Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” and his own ubiquitous, Oscar-nominated “Happy.” And he was, of course, responsible for Stefani’s biggest single, 2004’s “Hollaback Girl,” among others. Unfortunately, “Spark the Fire,” which includes a nod to the Rolling Stones’ “Get Off of My Cloud,” seems more like an attempt to repeat those past hits than update the singer’s sound for “2015.” The track eschews Williams’s recent neo-disco shtick for the paint-can bongo beats, triangle, schoolyard chants that marked much of his earlier work. Still, “Spark the Fire,” not to be confused with No Doubt’s “Start the Fire,” has a better shot at reigniting Stefani’s solo career than its rather bland predecessor did. Now let’s just hope the music video is a step up too.
1. “Hollywood ’Noah’ is kosher, says celebrity rabbi.” Shmuley Boteach tells our film critic the Russell Crowe epic is impressive and important, but also poor entertainment.
“Is the purpose of religion to be the sword of God? The blade of morality which condemns the wicked and the unrighteous? I have written two books about why innocent people suffer. And what I say is this: there are people who believe that the explanation for human suffering is straightforward. You see it in the Flood, in Sodom and Gommorah and with Moses and the Golden Calf. And yet, the principal distinction between Noah on one hand and Moses and Abraham on the other is that Noah accepts God’s judgement. The film does a good job of showing this. Noah is not a hero in Jewish lore. The Bible says that Noah was a righteous man ’in his generation.’ He was only a righteous man compared to the others who were far worse than he.”