Love Never Felt So Good

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"Love Never Felt So Good"
Single by Michael Jackson and Justin Timberlake
from the album Xscape
Released May 2, 2014 (2014-05-02)
Format
Recorded 1983 (reworked 2013–2014)
Genre
Length
  • 3:54 (solo version)
  • 4:05 (duet version)
Label Epic
Writer(s)
Producer(s)
Michael Jackson singles chronology
  • "Love Never Felt So Good"
  • (2014)
Justin Timberlake singles chronology
  • "Love Never Felt So Good"
  • (2014)
Xscape track listing
"Love Never Felt So Good"
(1)
"Chicago"
(2)
Music video
"Love Never Felt So Good" on YouTube

"Love Never Felt So Good" is a song performed by American recording artist Michael Jackson, released posthumously on May 2, 2014. Two reworked versions of the 1983 demo track originally composed by Jackson and Canadian singer-songwriter Paul Anka form the first single released from Jackson's second posthumous album, Xscape. The first version is a solo produced by American record producer John McClain and Dutch record producer Giorgio Tuinfort. The second version is a duet featuring American recording artist Justin Timberlake, produced by American record producers Timbaland and Jerome "J-Roc" Harmon. It is the second collaboration between Jackson and Anka to be released since Jackson's 2009 death (the first being "This Is It"). The single charted on number 9 in the US and on number 8 in the UK.

Background[edit]

First worked on as a demo, Jackson co-produced the song during a 1983 recording session with Anka. The original version only featured Jackson's vocals, handclaps and a piano, played by Anka. In 1984, Anka sent the song to Johnny Mathis, who recorded a new version of the song with revised lyrics by Anka and Kathleen Wakefield.[3] Mathis' version made it on his 1984 album, A Special Part of Me. In 2006, Jackson's demo leaked online. During the 2013-2014 recording sessions for the Xscape album, the song was given a revision as a disco-sounding track. The first version, which only features Jackson, was produced by John McClain and Giorgio Tuinfort and was featured as the first track on the standard version of Xscape. The second version, featured as the last track on the deluxe version of the album, was co-produced by Timbaland and Jerome "J-Roc" Harmon and featured Timberlake in duet vocals with Jackson. While producing Timberlake's duet version, Timbaland sampled the percussion and breaths from Jackson's 1979 song "Workin' Day and Night".

Release[edit]

On April 30, 2014, it was revealed that "Love Never Felt So Good" would be unveiled at the iHeart Radio Music Awards on May 1 as the album's first single. During the show on May 1, 2014, the song premiered with a tribute by American R&B singer Usher.[4] The digital download for the single became available on iTunes at 0:01 EDT on May 2, 2014 for the album version and the duet version with Justin Timberlake.[5][6] The release date of the single to urban radio stations confirmed as May 6, 2014, though actually the single hit the radios on May 2, 2014.[7] On the 10th of May, a Fedde Le Grand remix was announced and world-premiered by Danny Howard on his BBC Radio 1 show, Dance Anthems. The remix was released on May 19, 2014.[8] The song made its debut on Fuse's Top 20 Countdown on May 27, 2014 at #10.

Critical reception[edit]

Upon its release, "Love Never Felt So Good" received positive reviews from critics. Surprised by the quality of the song, Aisha Harris from Slate writes that Timberlake's version "sounds like an outtake from Off The Wall" and further commented: "If producers are going to put out more MJ music, let's hope it continues to sound this good."[9] Carl Willott of Idolator offered a positive outlook on the duet version, "where [Timberlake and Jackson's] voices make for an uncannily natural combination... the other great thing is that it’s not trying to be an event, it's just a breezy dance floor strut that wouldn’t feel out of place on Off The Wall or The 20/20 Experience."[10] Chris Richards of The Washington Post called the solo Jackson rendition "terrific. It's airy, sweet, funky and pretty much impossible to dislike," though he would go on to pan the Timberlake remix, which he commented "surfaces all the grody feelings that came rushing in 2010 with Jackson's first posthumous album, Michael."[11] Gavin Edwards from Rolling Stone said, "even if it isn't on a par with Jackson's best work, it sounded like it could have easily been the sixth single off Bad, which is more impressive than it sounds."[12] Stephanie Chase from Contactmusic said that "It's not groundbreaking or an exceptional example of his artistry, but it gives a good indication that Xscape could serve as a fitting tribute to Jackson and his legacy.[13] Jon OBrien from Yahoo! said the classy disco-soul of this single could easily have been lifted from Off The Wall or Thriller.[14]

Commercial performance[edit]

The single debuted on the UK Singles Chart at Number 27 issued on May 4, 2014 after just 24 hours on sale.[15][16]

In the US, the single sold more than 60,000 downloads from the debut date to May 4, 2014, and drawn 31 million all-format radio audience impressions since its first plays on Friday. With the Clear Channel's promotional synergy after the premiere of the song on the iHeartRadio Music Awards, the song received hourly plays on May 2, 2014 on the company's pop, adult and R&B/hip-hop stations, greatly contributing to its airplay,[17] which made the song debut on the following Billboard radio charts: Adult R&B Songs (#19), Adult Contemporary (#23), R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay (#28) and Adult Pop Songs (#40).[18] The song made splashy debuts at No. 20[19] on the Hot 100 and No. 6 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs by 80,000 downloads sold, 34 million in audience from 358 radio stations, and 1.9 million U.S. streams, which made it, at the time, Jackson's highest-charting entry since the 2002 single "Butterflies".[20] After its first full week on sale, the song reached to Number 6 of Billboard Digital Songs chart with the sale of 101,000 copies, but the whole week radio audience impressions reduced 36% to 22 million which generates the song dropped to No. 38 at Radio Songs, and caused the song's Hot 100 position #22 for the second week.[21][22] In its third week, the song rose to No. 9, becoming Jackson's first top-ten hit since 2001's "You Rock My World".[23] Jackson also became the first act in the Hot 100's history to score top ten hits in five different decades, as he has done for each decade from the 1970s to the 2010s.[23]

Counting Jackson's entire chart career in addition to his solo career, the 2010s is actually Jackson's sixth decade with a single charted (not peaking) in the Top 10, as the The Jackson 5 single "I Want You Back" first reached the Top 10 the week of December 27, 1969, on its way to a number one peak in late January 1970; however, Jackson was not credited on that single by full name.[24] The song eventually reached #1 on the Billboard Top Adult R&B Songs chart as well as reaching number-one in South Korea and South Africa. The single has topped Billboard Top Adult R&B Songs chart for 8 weeks.[25] The song has since been certified platinum by the RIAA for selling over a million digital downloads and streams combined.

Music videos[edit]

The music video for the duet debuted in the morning on May 14, 2014, which was regarded as "a careful visual tribute of the late pop singer's lasting legacy on future generations." It was directed by Rich Lee and Justin Timberlake.[26] A crowd of young dancers and Justin Timberlake sang along and made some memorable moves from Michael Jackson's classic music video or live shows. Clips from the following music videos appeared in the "Love Never Felt So Good" music video (in order of appearance):[27][28]

A month later, a music video for the solo version was uploaded to the official Michael Jackson YouTube channel. The music video featured clips from the duet version, as well as clips from other Michael Jackson music videos, such as "Dirty Diana" and "You Rock My World", along with some of Jackson's live performances, such as "Billie Jean".[29]

The music video for the duet version received a nomination for Best Choreography at the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards.

Live performance[edit]

The song was performed live at 2014 iHeart Radio Music Awards on May 1, 2014.[30] American R&B singer Usher danced across the stage, moonwalking, and even hopping on a table to spin during the play of this song. Other dancers dressed in Michael Jackson's style and performed his signature moves, capturing the late legend's energy in front of digital backdrops flashing graffiti and brick walls.[31]

Track listing[edit]

  • Digital download – solo version[32]
  1. "Love Never Felt So Good" – 3:54
  • Digital download – duet version[33]
  1. "Love Never Felt So Good" (with Justin Timberlake) – 4:05
  1. "Love Never Felt So Good" (Fedde le Grand remix) – 4:43
  • CD single
  1. "Love Never Felt So Good" – 3:54
  2. "Love Never Felt So Good" (with Justin Timberlake) – 4:05
  1. "Love Never Felt So Good" (DM-FK Classic Tribute Mix) (with Justin Timberlake) - 8:23
  2. "Love Never Felt So Good" (DM Classic Radio Mix (with Justin Timberlake) - 4:11
  3. "Love Never Felt So Good" (DM Epic Dub Mix)(with Justin Timberlake) - 7:54
  4. "Love Never Felt So Good" (DM Red Zone Mix) - 6:52

Official versions[edit]

  • Original Version 3:21
  • Album Version 3:54
  • Duet Version 4:05
  • Fedde le Grand remix 4:43 [35]
  • DM Classic Radio Mix 4:12 [36]

Personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2014) Peak
position
Australia (ARIA)[37] 28
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[38] 20
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[39] 4
Belgium Dance (Ultratop Flanders)[39] 6
Belgium Urban (Ultratop Flanders)[39] 1
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[40] 6
Brazil (Billboard Brasil Hot 100)[41] 23
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[42] 20
Croatia (Croatian Airplay Radio Chart)[43] 1
Czech Republic (Rádio Top 100)[44] 7
Czech Republic (Singles Digitál Top 100)[45] 57
Denmark (Tracklisten)[46] 1
France (SNEP)[47] 2
Germany (Media Control Charts)[48] 18
Germany (Deutsche Black Charts)[49] 1
Greece (Billboard Greece Digital Songs)[50] 4
Hungary (Rádiós Top 40)[51] 8
Hungary (Single Top 20)[52] 2
Ireland (IRMA)[53] 17
Israel (Media Forest)[54] 1
Italy (FIMI)[55] 4
Lebanon (The Official Lebanese Top 20)[56] 8
Luxembourg Digital Songs (Billboard)[57] 6
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[58] 2
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[59] 12
Poland (Polish Airplay Top 20)[60] 13
Poland (Dance Top 50)[61] 21
Portugal Digital Songs (Billboard)[62] 3
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[63] 19
Slovakia (Rádio Top 100)[64] 25
Slovakia (Singles Digitál Top 100)[65] 88
South Africa (EMA)[66] 1
South Korea (Gaon)[67] 1
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[68] 6
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[69] 57
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[70] 15
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[71] 8
US Billboard Hot 100[72] 9
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)[73] 5
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[74] 7
US Adult R&B Songs (Billboard)[75] 1
US Adult Top 40 (Billboard)[76] 23
US Hot Dance Club Songs (Billboard)[77] 18
US Mainstream Top 40 (Billboard)[78] 29

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Sales/shipments
Italy (FIMI)[79] Platinum 30,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[80] Silver 200,000^
United States (RIAA)[81] Platinum 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
xunspecified figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format Version Label
Italy May 2, 2014 Contemporary hit radio
Epic
United States Digital download
May 6, 2014 Contemporary hit radio Duet[84] Epic
Adult contemporary radio
Urban contemporary radio Solo[86]
May 19, 2014 Digital download Fedde le Grand remix[87] MJJ
Germany May 30, 2014 CD single
Sony

Cover versions[edit]

  • American pop music singer Johnny Mathis released this song for his 1984 album A Special Part of Me with new lyrics by Anka and Kathleen Wakefield, which was the song's first released version.[3]
  • German jazz guitarists Gismo Graf Trio covered this song in his 2014 album Modus Vivendi.[89]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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