Why It’s Challenging To Write A Hit Song For A Trolls Movie, According To Justin Timblerlake

Poppy and Branch in Trolls World Tour
(Image credit: (DreamWorks))
(Image credit: (DreamWorks))

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When Trolls hit theaters in November 2016, the film had already built a ton of momentum thanks to the summer release of “Can’t Stop This Feeling,” which became a huge pop hit for Justin Timberlake, along with scoring the artist his first Oscar-nomination. As DreamWorks returns to the franchise for Trolls World Tour, available on Digital today, JT has discussed the art of making a song from a movie a big hit as well. In his words:

It is challenging because you have to be specific but also ambiguous. You always get a specific criteria, what they’re sort of going for. And then you kind of pick a vibe. That’s what we did the first time with ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling.’ So, it’s been really cool to almost go on a little bit of a history trek with the music.

Justin Timberlake is the executive music producer on both Trolls soundtracks and the voice of Branch. As the “Cry Me A River” singer explains, there’s a tough balance for him to hit when writing a song for a movie that is also meant to be sold as a chart-topping pop song, like what “Can’t Stop This Feeling” became. The song should be specific to Trolls, but also be able to work without the context of the movie.

Trolls World Tour is brimming with original music from Justin Timberlake and a ton of other artists, including Anderson Paak, Haim, Ozzy Osbourne and the film’s music producer, Ludwig Göransson, who is responsible for The Mandalorian’s incredible theme music and the Black Panther score. The 20-song soundtrack (available to stream on Tidal) also features the vocals of SZA, Kelly Clarkson and Mary J. Blige, to name a few.

Whereas the first movie focused on pop music, Trolls World Tour is about Poppy and Branch discovered all genres, as JT touched upon during his recent Hot Ones appearance. You can check out the legendary pop star and former NSYNC member answer questions while eating spicy wings below:

In a plot twist move by Universal, it was announced last month that Trolls World Tour would skip a theatrical release all together and hit streaming on the day of its release. Many other spring releases are moving around their theatrical dates due to the current pandemic, but Trolls World Tour was the first title to turn to launching digitally instead of pushing back its date, and theater chains were not happy about it.

Yet as families find themselves cooperating with U.S. stay-at-home orders, it could be coming at the perfect time. Trolls World Tour has debuted to overall positive reviews from critics, with the sequel getting a 72% Fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes (audiences awarded it a slightly lower 68%). Trolls World Tour can be rented on digital for $19.99 now.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.