In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well—some inspired by a weekly theme and some not, but always songs worth hearing. This week: songs somehow involving Justin Timberlake.
It would be a shame to go through all of Justin Timberlake week without a tribute to a ’N Sync song, so here it is. While a lot of songs on No Strings Attached are better than “Just Got Paid,” the non-single (and Johnny Kemp cover) is still probably one of my go-tos from the group. Though the adaptation of the song came out in 2000 and was originally born in 1988 (and, oh, does it sound it), it still pops into my head every single time I get a paycheck. I even end up thinking about the band’s Billboard Music Awards performance from the same year, which involved hideous, brightly colored pimp suits and a lot of synchronized strutting.
While “Just Got Paid” isn’t a good song—and I’ll absolutely admit that—there’s something almost cathartic about listening to a product that’s so, so terrible. With lyrics about “booties shakin’” and an incredibly unfortunate rap verse from Chris Kirkpatrick, the track reeks of that terrible, slick, radio schlock that permeated the popular music scene in 2000. Listening to it—or to Mandy Moore’s “Candy,” Aaron Carter’s “Aaron’s Party,” or LFO’s “Summer Girls”—is an exercise in saccharine immersion. No one can survive on a diet of all sugar, but every so often, a glob of gooey taffy or a pull of cotton candy can really hit the spot. As adults, we know it’s not good for us—or even good, really—but we can like it all the same.