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Justin Timberlake Promises "Better Days" Are Ahead With Soulful 2021 Inauguration Day Performance

Ryan Gajewski
·2 min read
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Justin Timberlake offered a hopeful message during the festivities for Joe Biden's 2021 presidential inauguration.

As part of the live "Celebrating America" prime-time special that aired on Jan. 20, the superstar teamed up with R&B vocalist Ant Clemons for the song "Better Days."

This segment was filmed in Timberlake's hometown of Memphis, Tenn. and featured the singers starting out indoors before making their way to the streets, where they danced with a small group of students and alumni from the city's Stax Music Academy. The performance took place at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, which stands at the site of the former studio where Otis Redding and other iconic musicians have recorded.

Clemons, who is nominated for a 2021 Grammy for his EP Happy 2 Be Here, told NBC New York that Biden's team reached out to the pair after hearing them debut the tune as part of Stacey Abrams' "Rock the Runoff" virtual event in December 2020.

Celebrities at Presidential Inauguration's Celebrating America Special

"A few months ago @AntClemons and I wrote BETTER DAYS," Timberlake tweeted on Jan. 13. "This song was our way of doing what little we could to encourage everyone to stay hopeful and to keep working towards a better future. I'm honored to announce we'll be performing it for the Inauguration."

Justin Timberlake, Celebrating America, 2021 Presidential Inauguration
Justin Timberlake, Celebrating America, 2021 Presidential Inauguration

The song delivers a tone of optimism in line with the general theme of the historic day that saw Biden sworn in as the 46th President of the United States. A line from the chorus includes the lyrics, "It gets worse 'fore it gets better, but better's ahead."

Tom Hanks hosted "Celebrating America," which featured speeches from Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, along with appearances by Eva Longoria and Kerry Washington.

Some of the night's prominent performers included Bruce Springsteen singing "Land of Hope and Dreams," Jon Bon Jovi covering The Beatles' classic "Here Comes the Sun" and John Legend taking on Nina Simone's "Feeling Good."