Justin Timberlake rose to fame as part of a boy band, but his solo career has proven that his musical tastes and interests extend pretty far beyond the kind of songs he started out with. Timberlake made that point pretty clear in a recent “songwriter roundtable” with The Hollywood Reporter that also featured Sting, Alicia Keys, Tori Amos, John Legend, and Pharrell Williams. In the transcript of their chat, Timberlake comes across as being very excited to be there, but nowhere is that more apparent than when Amos starts talking about the struggles she had getting the label to accept her 1992 debut Little Earthquakes.
Amos explains that the label rejected the album outright when she first finished it, revealing that “they wanted to take all the pianos off and replace them with guitars.” Timberlake is aghast at this and declares, “That album changed my life, man. So fucking good.” Amos then explains that she threatened to go to another label, but ultimately she kept fighting and put out the album the way she wanted. Also, at one point in her story Amos said “you’re bringing in another man again,” which both Williams and Timberlake heard as “another mannequin,” and they both briefly considered stealing that for a song lyric. Graciously, Amos noted that she wouldn’t charge them for it.
Elsewhere in the chat, the gang shares a laugh over the meaninglessness of the term “crossover artist,” and they discuss the “Hitler-level” things that Donald Trump said during the presidential campaign—THR notes that this discussion was held the day before the election, so the musicians are still blissfully hopeful. Finally, they end the roundtable by each sharing their one-word secret to “longevity in the music business.” Timberlake starts off with “curiosity,” and everybody pretty much agrees with his answer until Amos says “humor” and then everyone agrees with her instead. So, basically, the key to longevity is to just do what Tori Amos does.