“Better Days” by Ant Clemons & Justin Timberlake
Some may say that the song “Better Days” blew up kinda late, as in the masses more or less being over the setbacks of 2020 as of early-2021. That is to say that upon its composition, the song was intended to be yet another feel-good song in the face of the ever-depressing COVID-19 pandemic and what have you. Other tracks which mirror such sentiments had already been coming out since early-to-mid 2020. But considering that the pandemic is in fact ever-depressing, perhaps we could all use some additional upliftment every now and then.
Central Message of “Better Days”
And indeed the vocalists are encouraging us all in general to embrace “better days”. The lyrics themselves aren’t unrealistically optimistic but are rather premised on the addressee(s) being in some sort of depressed, downtrodden state. So Justin Timberlake and Ant Clemons give advice on how to overcome such a disposition. For example, Timberlake asserts that we should take a “deep breath” and “stay calm” as opposed to giving in to adversity.
And collectively what they are advising is that even if one is feeling down and out, he or she should “keep going”, i.e. continue to forge ahead. For inevitably “better days” than what most of us are currently going through are in fact forthcoming.
A Song about Blind Optimism?
Perhaps we can say that this song isn’t based on blind optimism per se but rather the faith, if you will, that tomorrow will be more-merciful than today. And again, these kinda tracks are sort of a dime a dozen and have really been proliferating during the pandemic.
But perhaps at the end of the day, considering how favorably fans have received “Better Days”, this is the type of message that we can never get enough of. In fact there are no direct references to 2020 or COVID in the lyrics. Rather the wording is based on the more general idea of addressing someone who feels as if he or she is defeated.
Who is Ant Clemons?
Ant Clemons is a singer from New Jersey who pulled himself up into musical success by his bootstraps. Becoming a professional in 2016, the most-significant achievement of his early career has been being nominated for a Grammy in 2020. Around that same time he hooked up with Justin Timberlake, who desired to come up with a track alongside Clemons.
This marks both singers’ first collaboration together.
As it stands now, Clemons is considered a newcomer. However, he has had the privilege to collaborate with some of the biggest names in the industry. For example, in 2018 he featured on Kanye West’s “Water“. He has also worked with the likes of Timberland and Chance the Rapper.
Release Date of “Better Days”
This track premiered at a politically-centered virtual concert called Rock the Runoff that was held 3 December 2020.
“Better Days” was officially issued by record labels Legion and Human Re Sources on the same day it debuted, 3 December 2020. It didn’t really blow up though until about a month later. That was when, on 20 January 2021, Timberlake and Clemons performed the tune as part of Celebrating America, an event in honor of the inauguration of US President Joe Biden.
And they filmed their segment at Memphis’s Stax Museum of American Soul Music, with Memphis, Tennessee also being Justin Timberlake’s hometown. And that venue was chosen not only by the singers but also the Presidential Inaugural Committee. They chose the venue because it was a representation of the entire city of Memphis.
Song Becomes Successful
In the direct aftermath of the performance, “Better Days” was ‘Shazamed’ nearly 100,000 times within 24 hours. In that regard it set a record on the Shazam music app. Additionally both the song and music video reached number one on an even more-popular music platform, iTunes.
The music video to this track was also filmed at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music. It featured participation from Stax Music Academy students and apparently was a separate affair from the aforementioned inauguration festivities. In fact the video was filmed over several days. And it’s interesting to note that the producers of the clip were able to by and large keep its filming a secret from residents of the city.
The narrators use this song to lift the spirits of the addressee, who is apparently downtrodden. They assure him or her that better days are ahead if only he or she presses on and remains optimistic.
Who wrote “Better Days”?
Timberlake and Clemons are acknowledged as both writers and producers of “Better Days”. The other writers are as follows:
- Jacob Kasher
- Kenny Dixon Jr.
- Khirye Tyler
- Rance (of 1500 or Nothin’)
- Dylan Del-Omo
- Chris Payton
And the other co-producers are Tarron Crayton, Bongo and a California-based crew called 1500 or Nothin’.