"Not a Bad Thing" (CD Single)

Music review by
Kyle Jackson, Common Sense Media
"Not a Bad Thing" (CD Single) Music Poster Image
Sentimental love song has heavily marketed music video.

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 3 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this music.

Positive Messages

"Not a Bad Thing" is a sweet love song, with lyrics pledging commitment, support, and loyalty, hallmarks of a deep and enduring romantic partnership.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Justin Timberlake is in full gentleman mode on this track, sweetly pledging to make a girl's dreams come true.


A metaphorical lyric in the chorus includes the phrase "when someone cuts your heart open with a knife, and you're bleeding."


Timberlake keeps the sexual seduction to a minimum, opting instead for lofty and seemingly genuine declarations of love and commitment. The only even remotely inferred sexual content is about wanting to be "the last voice you hear tonight" and "every morning I just want to see you staring back at me."


The album version of this song uses a unedited "f--k" in the reoccurring chorus: "Don't act like it's a bad thing to fall in love with me /'Cause you might "f--k" around and find all your dreams come true with me." In the single release and radio edit, "look" is subbed in for "f--k."


While the song is sweet and harmless, the music video about the search for a newly engaged couple -- while perhaps good-intentioned -- is a fairly shameless viral marketing ploy, complete with a hashtag campaign. The "mini documentary" premiered on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The lyrics and music video are clean and free of any iffy content related to smoking, drugs, or alcohol.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that "Not A Bad Thing" is a sentimental track from Justin Timberlake's 2013 album, The 20/20 Experience -- 2 of 2. It's a sappy, romantic pop song with an even cheesier music video that follows two filmmakers searching the globe for a couple who orchestrated a public wedding proposal by playing a Timberlake song on cell phone speakers on a New York City subway train. The album version has "f--k" in the chorus, but the radio version (and that which accompanied the video that premiered on The Ellen DeGeneres Show) has no iffy content, other than heavy marketing that includes a hashtag campaign.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Written byAnonymous November 2, 2016
Adult Written byJared Galczynski June 25, 2014
Don't act like it's a bad thing to fall in love with this song.
Teen, 13 years old Written bymavrc31027 June 8, 2015
Teen, 17 years old Written bySodaDog May 3, 2014

What's the story?

NOT A BAD THING is the fourth single from Justin Timberlake's The 20/20 Experience -- 2 of 2, the second installment of a two-part studio album released in 2013. Featuring production by studio luminaries and frequent JT collaborators Timbaland and J-Roc, "Not A Bad Thing" is a sweet pop song about believing in love and overcoming heartache. The music video, which presents itself as a mini-documentary, finds a team of filmmakers searching for a couple who got engaged in public on an MTA train while playing a Justin Timberlake song on cell phone speakers. They've set out to find the couple by starting a viral campaign, complete with its own hashtag, "#haveyouseenthiscouple".

Is it any good?

In the music video, the song is barely audible in the background, while "real couples" are interviewed about the meaning of love and wedding proposals. The fact that the song itself is an afterthought in its own music video is a pretty good indicator of how uninspiring and generic the track is. Maybe it's cute, maybe it's sweet, but at the end of the day it's just another forgettable pop song from an artist who released too much all at once without bothering to control the quality. The music video feels so phony and contrived that any warmth from the quotes or images is lost in the overpowering aura of marketing.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what makes a video go viral. Do you think the carefully constructed marketing of this video campaign impacts the song's artistic credibility? Explain.

  • What do you think of the use of hashtags by media companies to help their content "trend" on social media?

  • How has Justin Timberlake's career evolved since his NSYNC days? Why do you think he has maintained his popularity, when other icons from the Boy Band era have faded?

Music details

  • Artist: Justin Timberlake
  • Release date: February 24, 2014
  • Type: Single
  • Label: RCA
  • Genre: Pop
  • Parental advisory: No
  • Edited version available: Yes
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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