Say Something (Justin Timberlake song)

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"Say Something"
Say Something - Justin Timberlake (Official Single Cover).png
Single by Justin Timberlake featuring Chris Stapleton
from the album Man of the Woods
ReleasedJanuary 25, 2018 (2018-01-25)
Format
GenreCountry rock, R&B[1]
Length4:39
LabelRCA
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s)
  • Justin Timberlake
  • Timbaland
  • Danja
  • Larrance Dopson
Justin Timberlake singles chronology
"Supplies"
(2018)
"Say Something"
(2018)
"SoulMate"
(2018)
Chris Stapleton singles chronology
"Broken Halos"
(2017) Broken Halos2017
"Say Something"
(2018) Say Something2018
"Millionaire"
(2018) Millionaire2018
Music video
"Say Something" on YouTube

"Say Something" is a song recorded by American singer-songwriter Justin Timberlake featuring vocals by American singer Chris Stapleton. It was released on January 25, 2018 as the third single from his fifth studio album Man of the Woods (2018) along with its music video. The song was written and produced by Timberlake, Larrance Dopson, Floyd Nathaniel Hills, and Timbaland, with additional songwriting by Stapleton. It debuted at number 9 on the US Billboard Hot 100, becoming Timberlake's 19th top 10 single as a solo artist and Stapleton's first.[2] It also reached number one in Slovakia and Slovenia and the top 10 in Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Scotland, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. It was serviced to contemporary hit radio on February 13, 2018.[3] A live version of the song was released on March 31.

Background[edit]

Justin Timberlake and Chris Stapleton first collaborated at the 2015 Country Music Association Awards, performing "Tennessee Whiskey" and "Drink You Away".[4] Stapleton was initially only writing songs with Timberlake for the album, before being asked to sing on "Say Something". He told Billboard, "I really just went out to Los Angeles to write songs with him, it's a very fluid process with him, there's a lot going on. That was one of those things where there wasn't necessarily a plan. He was like 'All right, you hop in there and take a verse,' and I'm like, 'You want me to do what?' ... It came out great. I had a blast with him, he's a great creative force and one of those guys that if you get a chance to work with him, you should."[5]

Composition and interpretation[edit]

"Say Something" is an upbeat country rock ballad that blends the electronic structures of Man of the Woods previously released songs "Filthy" and "Supplies" with Stapleton's country blues styles.[6] The song comprises elements of gospel, pop, acoustic soul and jazz.[7] Timberlake and Timbaland previously incorporated country sounds such as twangy guitars on tracks like "What Goes Around... Comes Around".[8] The song features lyrics about reflection and regret, meditating on social pressure to have something to say and being unsure if you really do. Nashville Scene writer Stephen Trageser intrepreted the lyrics as:

"...recognizing that someone with the degree of celebrity Timberlake has can do more good by taking up less space. As in, realizing that weighing in on issues of public concern can easily turn into an event focused on him and his image instead of actually serving the cause at hand."[9]

Music video[edit]

Staircases and atrium interior of the Bradbury Building

Directed by Arturo Perez Jr. and produced by La Blogothèque, the video was filmed using a technique known as "continuous motion" and shot in one take at the Bradbury Building in Los Angeles – famous for its appearance in the 1982 cult science fiction film Blade Runner – with elevators, balconies, and stairs that "personified the labyrinth" the concept required.[10][11] The crew included 17 musicians and a 60-person choir, in order to record the video and audio live in only one take.[12] The video starts with Timberlake alone in a room creating beats and effects on an MPC sampler. The camera follows him as he straps on an acoustic guitar and ascends up an elevator. Stepping out, he encounters Stapleton on a nearby staircase.[13] The music video on YouTube has received over 270 million views as of November 2018.

It won Best Live Video at the 2018 UK Music Video Awards.[14] It received nominations for Video of the Year and Collaborative Video of the Year at the 2018 CMT Music Awards,[15] for an MTV Video Music Award for Best Direction,[16] and for an iHeartRadio Much Music Video Award for Best Director.[17] It also received a nomination for Best Music Video at the 2018 Camerimage Festival.[18]

Critical reception[edit]

Lauren Tingle of CMT gave the song a positive review, writing "it definitely sounds like it could have been born in Timberlake's musically rich home state of Tennessee. The pop singer's high tenor and Stapleton's gravely melisma accent the song's driving acoustic rhythm guitars, horns and syncopated percussion."[7] In Billboard, Natalie Maher stated the climax of the song occurs "as the two are joined by a full choir, and added band, and then slowly comes down off itself with the line, "maybe it's greatest to say nothing.""[13] Stephen Trageser of Nashville Scene deemed the track "an anthemic tune about something ostensibly honorable," and went on to interpret the lyrics.[9] Cillea Houghton of Taste of Country called the song a "jam" where the singer "trade lines on an upbeat, genre-less track that could easily nestle into country radio."[19] Emily Yahr of The Washington Post said the song "has a guitar-driven sound that could theoretically fit into the modern country world."[20] Billboard's critics ranked it among the best songs of the first half of 2018.[21]

Uproxx's Aaron Williams opined the blend of styles created "a surprisingly danceable groove that isn't too far off from Timberlake's usual comfort zone," and added "their voices also blend well."[8] Will Lavin of Joe expressed "Say Something" is a "more refined Justin Timberlake. It feels like an organic blend of musical elements. From the hip hop-inspired drums, to the country-driven guitar riff, gospel harmonies, and triumphant introspective vocals, you're left feeling satisfied... this is JT at his best and most honest."[22] Forrest Wickman of Slate said the "long-anticipated duet lives up to the hype."[23] For Idolator, Mike Neid said it is "the first song that truly feels on brand with the more organic styling of Man of the Woods. It feels like a bit of a risk for JT, but it is one that should pay off," and opined it was the "best" on the album so far.[24] HotNewHipHop said it is different from his previous singles as it leans towards folk music, "but it's still another solid offering from Timberlake."[25] MTV's Madeline Roth said the song is "as close to Timberlake's Memphis roots as he's gotten so far... and it's a promising sign of things to come,"[11] while MTV UK's Sam Prance stated Timberlake "deliver some of the best vocals of his career to date. Not to mention, the chorus is massive and Chris complements Justin perfectly on it."[26]

Pitchfork's Marc Hogan in an unfavorable review said "apparently, the two have nothing to say, and they're absurdly proud of it."[27] Spin's Winston Cook-Wilson felt it is not the single for a listener that is "looking for clever, poignant, or just remotely sensical turns of phrase.".[28]

Commercial performance[edit]

In the United States, "Say Something" debuted at number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 with 98,000 downloads sold, after selling additional 21,000 before the tracking week, and 12.8 million streams. It also marked Timberlake's seventh number one in Digital Songs, and first since "Can't Stop the Feeling!" in 2016.[2] The song has sold 431,000 downloads in the country as of June 2018.[29]

Live performances[edit]

On February 5, 2018, Timberlake and Stapleton performed "Say Something" on the post-Super Bowl episode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.[30] On February 21, 2018, both artists performed the song at the 2018 Brit Awards.[31]

Track listing[edit]

Digital download
No.TitleLength
1."Say Something" (featuring Chris Stapleton)4:38
Digital download[32]
No.TitleLength
1."Say Something" (live version) (featuring Chris Stapleton)4:02

Credits and personnel[edit]

Charts[edit]

Chart (2018) Peak
position
Argentina Anglo (Monitor Latino)[33] 11
Australia (ARIA)[34] 18
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[35] 9
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Flanders)[36] 5
Belgium (Ultratop 50 Wallonia)[37] 4
Brazil (Billboard)[38] 6
Canada (Canadian Hot 100)[39] 6
Canada AC (Billboard)[40] 22
Canada CHR/Top 40 (Billboard)[41] 17
Canada Hot AC (Billboard)[42] 18
Czech Republic (Rádio Top 100)[43] 2
Czech Republic (Singles Digitál Top 100)[44] 11
Denmark (Tracklisten)[45] 11
France (SNEP)[46] 11
Germany (Official German Charts)[47] 9
Hungary (Rádiós Top 40)[48] 27
Hungary (Single Top 40)[49] 7
Hungary (Stream Top 40)[50] 14
Ireland (IRMA)[51] 16
Italy (FIMI)[52] 42
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40)[53] 7
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[54] 24
New Zealand (Recorded Music NZ)[55] 20
Norway (VG-lista)[56] 39
Poland (Polish Airplay Top 100)[57] 8
Portugal (AFP)[58] 23
Russia Airplay (Tophit)[59] 13
Scotland (Official Charts Company)[60] 2
Slovakia (Rádio Top 100)[61] 1
Slovakia (Singles Digitál Top 100)[62] 17
Slovenia (SloTop50)[63] 1
Sweden (Sverigetopplistan)[64] 28
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[65] 6
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[66] 9
US Billboard Hot 100[67] 9
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[68] 16
US Adult Top 40 (Billboard)[69] 8
US Mainstream Top 40 (Billboard)[70] 15

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[71] 2× Platinum 140,000^
Belgium (BEA)[72] Gold 15,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[73] 2× Platinum 160,000^
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[74] Gold 45,000^
France (SNEP)[75] Gold 100,000*
Germany (BVMI)[76] Gold 200,000^
Italy (FIMI)[77] Gold 25,000double-dagger
New Zealand (RMNZ)[78] Gold 15,000*
Poland (ZPAV)[79] Platinum 20,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[80] Gold 400,000double-dagger

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Version Label Ref.
Various January 25, 2018 Digital download Original [7]
United States February 13, 2018 Contemporary hit radio [3]
Italy February 16, 2018 Sony [81]
Various March 31, 2018 Digital download Live RCA [32]

References[edit]

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