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 (original)
  • 2013–2014 (reworked)
Genre
Length
  • 3:54 (solo version)
  • 4:05 (duet version)
  • 3:21 (original version)
Label Epic
Writer(s)
Kathleen Wakefield
Producer(s)
Certification Platinum (RIAA)
Michael Jackson singles chronology
"I'm So Blue"
(2012)
"Love Never Felt So Good"
(2014)
"A Place with No Name"
(2014)
Justin Timberlake singles chronology
"Not a Bad Thing"
(2014)
"Love Never Felt So Good"
(2014)
"Drink You Away"
(2015)
Music video
"Love Never Felt So Good" on YouTube

"Love Never Felt So Good" is a song performed by American singer Michael Jackson, released posthumously on May 2, 2014. The song, reworked from a 1983 demo track originally composed by Jackson and Canadian singer-songwriter Paul Anka, was the first single released from Jackson's second posthumous album, Xscape. Two versions of the single were developed. The first was a solo produced by American record producer John McClain and Dutch record producer Giorgio Tuinfort. The second version was a duet featuring American singer Justin Timberlake, produced by American record producers Timbaland and Jerome "J-Roc" Harmon, which received positive reviews from music critics. Its accompanying music video premiered on May 14, 2014 on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. In it, Timberlake appears with a crowd of young dancers, who reference Jackson's most known dance moves, interspersed with archival footage of the late pop singer's many short films. The song is the second collaboration between Jackson and Anka to be released since Jackson's 2009 death — the first being "This Is It".

"Love Never Felt So Good" charted within the top ten in eighteen national charts, reaching the top spot in five. Michael Jackson became the first artist in history to have a top 10 single on the US Billboard Hot 100 in five different decades when "Love Never Felt So Good" reached number nine on May 21, 2014 (six decades if his Jackson 5 tenure is included). It spent eight weeks atop the US Adult R&B Songs. The song also charted at number eight on the UK Singles Chart.

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, finger snaps 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 iHeartRadio 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]

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]

"Love Never Felt So Good" got praised by another musician, when DJ Cassidy told the song had a positive impact on him.[15]

I haven’t been a huge fan of albums that come out after an artist dies. You know, it just doesn’t have their stamp on it, so it’s never going to be what it would have been if the person was alive. But “Love Never Felt So Good” was a great record. It was definitely one of my top five songs from the last five years.

Commercial performance[edit]

"Love Never Felt So Good" became Michael Jackson's 29th top-ten single and Justin Timberlake's (pictured) 16th on the US Billboard Hot 100.[16]

The single debuted on the UK Singles Chart at No. 27 issued on May 4, 2014 after just 24 hours on sale.[17][18] It reached number-one in South Korea, Croatia, Denmark, Israel, South Africa, German Urban and Belgium Urban.

In the United States, 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,[19] which made the song debut on the following Billboard radio charts: Adult R&B Songs (No. 19), Adult Contemporary (No. 23), R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay (No. 28) and Adult Pop Songs (No. 40).[20] The song made splashy debuts at No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100[21] 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".[22] After its first full week on sale, the song reached to No. 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.[23][24] In its third week, the song rose to No. 9, becoming Jackson's first top-ten hit since 2001's "You Rock My World".[16] 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.[16] The single topped the US Billboard Top Adult R&B Songs chart for 8 weeks.[25] "Love Never Felt So Good" has since been certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

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.[26]

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.[27] 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):[28][29]

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".[30]

Live performance[edit]

The song was performed live at 2014 iHeart Radio Music Awards on May 1, 2014.[31] American R&B singer Usher danced across the stage, moonwalking, and 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 in front of digital backdrops flashing graffiti and brick walls.[32]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Result Ref.
2014 Soul Train Music Awards Song of the Year Nominated [33]
Best Collaboration
MTV Video Music Awards Best Choreography [34]
2015 NAACP Image Award Outstanding Music Video [35]
BMI R&B/Hip-Hop Awards Most Performed R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Won [36]

Track listing[edit]

  • Digital download – solo version[37]
  1. "Love Never Felt So Good" – 3:54
  • Digital download – duet version[38]
  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 [40]
  • DM Classic Radio Mix 4:12 [41]

Personnel[edit]

  • Written and composed by Michael Jackson and Paul Anka
  • Arrangement by Michael Jackson, John McClain, Franck van der Heijden and Timbaland
  • Produced by John McClain, Michael Jackson and Giorgio Tuinfort
  • Co-produced by Timbaland, Jerome "J-Roc" Harmon and Justin Timberlake
  • Additional Background Vocals: Justin Timberlake
  • Keyboard by Paul Anka
  • Horns by The Regiment Horns
  • Percussion by Terry Santiel
  • Guitars by Elliott Ives and Mike Scott
  • Bass by Mike Scott

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Belgium (BEA)[88] Gold 15,000*
Italy (FIMI)[89] Platinum 30,000*
Mexico (AMPROFON)[90] Platinum 60,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[91] Silver 200,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[92] Platinum 1,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments 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[95] Epic
Adult contemporary radio
Urban contemporary radio Solo[97]
May 19, 2014 Digital download Fedde le Grand remix[98] 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.[100]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]