“I feel old sometimes, and this makes me feel really young again,” he said, to laughter. “I just want to say, I wrote this song because I wanted it to be about inclusion, about being together. And so I guess I want to take this opportunity to speak to young people right now ‘cause there’s a lot of you looking at me.”
“If you are black or you are brown or you are gay or you are lesbian or you are trans — or maybe you’re just a sissy singing boy from Tennessee,” Timberlake continued, to growing applause. “Anyone that is treating you unkindly, it’s only because they are afraid or they have been taught to be afraid of how important you are. Because being different means you make the difference. So f— ’em.”
It was not the first time Timberlake has used the show as a platform to deliver a message about embracing togetherness. At last year’s iHeartRadio awards, the singer veered into politics while on stage to honor Taylor Swift for winning “Best Tour.”
“Some people are out here to build walls; we ain’t naming no names,” Timberlake said then, referring to then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s plans to construct a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Timberlake’s voice was soon drowned out by cheers and applause.
“Shut up, you can’t even vote. I’m kidding!” he joked, before continuing with his tribute to Swift.
“Taylor chooses to knock down walls and invite everyone to be on her ‘#squad.’ ”
In a lengthy roundtable on songwriting with the Hollywood Reporter, Timberlake admitted he at first was doubtful about writing a song just for a movie.
“I had never written a song under that type of pretense, where it’s specific to a scene in the movie and the movie, for better or worse, is a musical,” Timberlake said. “I think I was afraid to go into this because I was like, well, there’s probably going to be more frivolity to it than substance.
“But then I looked at the story and I’m like, wait, hold on, we have a female protagonist that has a belly and crazy hair. For young females to get to see that. … That’s not frivolous at all. That’s so important. And what a cool way in to getting them into the theater, to be like, ‘I want to be like Princess Poppy, not Barbie.’ ”