Justin Timberlake opened up to Jimmy Fallon on Sunday’s live episode of The Tonight Show about the reason why he decided to pay tribute to Prince in his hometown Minneapolis during his Super Bowl halftime show.
“It’s a moment for me, if I’m being quite honest, because he’s always been the pinnacle of musicianship for me,” Timberlake said. “And when we decided that [we were going to do a tribute], like the serendipity and the synergy that we would be Minneapolis, and that he’s such a special thing here aside from what he is all over the world.”
“I just felt like I wanted to do something for this city and something for him that would just be the ultimate homage to what I consider the G.O.A.T. of musicians,” the 37-year-old singer continued.
During his 13-minute performance, Timberlake made his way over to a grand piano and sang a virtual duet with Prince on the late singer’s 1984 song “I Would Die 4 U.” The cameras zoomed out of U.S. Bank Stadium where the entire downtown area lit up in purple, Prince’s iconic “Love Symbol.”
The “SexyBack” singer confessed that he was nervous performing a virtual duet with Prince, but the approval of one artist is sufficient to make his idea a reality.
“And, also, I’m not going to lie to you guys, because Questlove is the encyclopedia on music — I feel like a gatekeeper on Prince. [If] I got the thumbs’ up from Quest, I’m good,” he said.
Timberlake said how the original recordings of Prince’s performances lined up to make the show possible.
“You have to understand, we got the actual vocal stems from ‘I Would Die 4 U’ – the actual recording – and then we got the uncut version of it and ‘Purple Rain’ and some way by the grace of Prince looking down on us, it synced up,” Timberlake shared. “It was like this crazy, serendipitous moment. I wanted to use that opportunity to do something special for this city but also my favorite musician of all time.”
On Sunday night, the official Twitter page of NFL posted a time-lapse video of staff setting up the stage for the halftime show and Timberlake’s entire performance.
— NFL (@NFL) February 5, 2018