Tuesday, May 13th, 2014

Justin Timberlake – Not a Bad Thing

We promise we’ll wait another ten years before doing another JT song. Of course, so will he…


Alfred Soto: When I say that I like this it should not be taken as my accepting an act of contrition. “Not a Bad Thing” exists on a dreadful album whose tepid reception did nothing to destroy Timberlake’s much-lauded “branding” talents. Shorn of its bloat, its acoustic hook glimmering like the first hint of good-times-ahead May sunlight, it’s begging for Song of the Summer status. And, yeah, it is his best single since “Suit and Tie,” with an earworm chorus that had me humming three times this weekend when I caught the tune on Y-100. But after “Take Back the Night” the chorus hook sounds arrogant in its yearning self-assurance.  

David Sheffieck: Vapidity is far from a capital crime in pop, but this level of dullness should carry a mandatory minimum sentence.

Scott Mildenhall: If someone feels something is a bad thing they probably don’t want it.

Patrick St. Michel: Pretty telling that the video for this schlock-fest revolves around a narrative choked with interviews far louder than the song itself, totally distracting from the music. Though, after hearing just the song, I’d say that’s not a bad thing.

Megan Harrington: This asshole played a video of his friends asking homeless people to wish him and Jessica Biel a happy marriage on his wedding day. He doesn’t respect humanity enough to care genuinely about anyone else’s love story. 

Will Adams: The amount of emotional manipulation here — from the unctuous boy-band production to the jockeying for her love via an ultimatum — is something astonishing. But it still sounds pretty, which means that it’s working.

Katherine St Asaph: Lite summer-bait guitar, a chorus of over-compressed boy-band harmonies, a conceit of self-conscious meta (it’s not a bad thing to give in and let the album grow on you!) and a love narrative that’s chaste, with no raspberry bubblegum sex and minimal negging (although the chorus is essentially “if you don’t sleep with me you might end up BROKE and ALONE and OLD, so hey girl, doubt yourself and let’s do it,” so maybe not.) For a sundress-light track, it’s remarkably weighty; much like “Mirrors,” it moves with the crushing weight of inevitability. When I first heard the radio edit, months ago, I thought to myself “oh fuck, this is going Top 10,” and by golly, it has. Lovely.

Jer Fairall: The chart success of “Not a Bad Thing” suggests that a good chunk of fans retain a fond nostalgia for the *NSync era, the skittering acoustics and candy-sweet melody playing like the kind of thing JT usually thinks himself too good for these days. But Justin’s vocal sounds exhausted; perhaps he’s been listening to The 20/20 Experience?

Edward Okulicz: This fits snugly into two lineages — one, the sensitive top-down summertime love of Stargate/Espionage/Ne-Yo’s best, and two — unheralded boy bands of the late 90s who slipped the mildest of R&B into their pop beats and guitars. I mean, this could have been A1 or something, and it isn’t even close to being an overprocessed mess, although the chorus is also a long way from being as catchy as it should be. Also it’s long even at four-and-a-half minutes (tiny by JT’s recent standards), but as a devolution leading back to easy, likeable pop, this is ambitious in its own way, much more so than his pretentious overstuffed “art.”

Brad Shoup:

Ramzi Awn: “Not a Bad Thing” delivers a good beat with a Martina McBride sensibility, but the lush, guitar-tinged verse builds into a disappointing chorus that sounds less like the first-rate Janet it could have been and more like One Direction. The middle ground between “Mirrors” and “Pusher Love Girl” sounds like it would be better than it actually is, but it could still bump the radio up a notch this summer.

Reader average: [3] (3 votes)

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2 Responses to “Justin Timberlake – Not a Bad Thing”


  2. much thanks to our editors and to you!