The 2017 iHeartRadio Music Awards started with Justin Timberlake speaking about inclusion and dedicating his award to children who feel different, and ended with a rousing performance by Bruno Mars that included crowd participation from Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett, Ty Dolla $ign, Heidi Klum and more.
Timberlake won the night’s first award, song of the year, for Can’t Stop The Feeling! — his massive No.1 hit that was nominated for an Academy Award last month.
“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 and 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’re a lesbian or you are trans, or maybe you’re just a sissy singing boy from Tennessee, anyone that is treating you unkindly, it’s only because they are afraid or have been taught to be afraid of how important you are,” Timberlake, who is from Memphis, said to the crowd at the Forum in Inglewood, California.
“Because being different means you make the difference,” added Timberlake, who ended his speech with an expletive that was bleeped.
Can’t Stop This Feeling! appeared on the Trolls soundtrack and was nominated for the best original song Oscar.
Mars, who earned the Innovator Award and closed the show, started his performance with his past hit, Treasure, and later sang his newest hit, the groovy That’s What I Like. It featured his signature, slick dance moves and all-star band.
“Innovator is a very heavy word. …It’s a little ironic for me because I genuinely feel like I’m just getting started,” Mars, 31, said onstage, sporting a black suit and sunglasses. “So buckle up. I don’t know where we’re going yet but we’re going. Keep up y’all.”