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How Justin Timberlake & Walt Dohrn Raised The Bar For ‘Trolls World Tour’ – Contenders Film

Anthony D'Alessandro
·2 min read

Coming off the heat of the first DreamWorks Animation movie Trolls, a bonanza musical that saw its tune “Can’t Stop the Feeling” from Justin Timberlake get nominated for a Best Song Oscar on top of going quadruple platinum, the sequel Trolls World Tour was always going to be more music, more color, more glitz and more glamour.

“We want it to feel like a concert at the end of the film, even at home. We pushed the look of the film, pushed the scope with tons more music than the first film,” says director Walt Dohrn, who joined Timberlake on the movie’s panel at Deadline’s Contenders Film awards-season event.

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“It was important to have these performers from these genres,” he adds about building the sequel’s roster of diverse performers including Mary J. Blige, George Clinton, SZA and Kelly Clarkson. “We wanted authenticity in the genres. It’s a movie about the celebration of differences, but it’s also a love letter to music.”

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Dohrn says that when it comes to discussing the songs in Trolls World Tour, it happens very early during the conception stage when he ropes in Timberlake, who in addition to co-starring in the franchise is the executive music producer.

Key to the duo was creating the big send-off song, “Just Sing” which would capture the number of musical styles floating around in Trolls World Tour. Timberlake co-wrote the song with Oscar-winning Black Panther composer Ludwig Göransson as well as Max Martin and Sarah Aarons.

Timberlake and his team decided that “Just Sing” would be a “pop song because pop music incorporates so many different genres, but can we make so that we can actually incorporate all those genres sonically throughout the course of the song?” he says. “Ludwig and I looked at each other and said, ‘How are we going to do that?’ ”

“Just Sing,” per Timberlake, incorporated a simple progression, not unlike a song like “Lean on Me,” which allowed the songwriters to incorporate instruments like a banjo, a synthesizer and a bass reminiscent of bands like Parliament and the P-Funk All Stars, and “still not have the song lose its architecture; we could dress it up with different design,” the 10-time Grammy winner says.

Adds Timberlake: “We started from a simple melody and a simple idea that the idea of finding your voice, your own voice and that everyone’s voice is different and can live and breath and sing essentially in the same world. And, really, we found, wow, what a timely message: To honor and recognize and accept everyone for our differences. Not only that, but to sing and dance per se with each other. That’s where the song started.”

Check out the panel video above.

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