"It's a moment for me, and if I'm being quite honest, it's because he's always been the pinnacle of musicianship," Timberlake said. "And when we decided that the serendipity and synergy [of being] in Minnesota -- 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 GOAT [Greatest of All Time] of musicians."
Ultimately, the 37-year-old performer thought the technical aspects of the homage was the most interesting.
"We got the actual vocal stems from 'I Would Die 4 U' and the actual recording, and then we got uncut footage from his performance of it in 'Purple Rain' and somehow, someway, by the grace of -- probably Prince looking down on us -- it synced up and it was this crazy, serendipitous moment... and I just wanted to use that opportunity to do something special for this city, but most of all my favorite musician of all time," he said.
The explanation inspired Fallon's bandleader Questlove to send Timberlake a thumbs up of approval. Questlove was one of the celebrities singing his praises on Twitter after the performance.
"Questlove is the encyclopedia on music, but I also feel like a gatekeeper on Prince, so if I got the thumbs-up from Questlove, I'm good," he said.
Timberlake also joined the NBC late-night host for a hilarious edition of Songversation, where they described everything they were doing from eating a cookie to watching "Riverdale" in a harmonized song.
The sketch proved difficult for the guys to film, as evidenced by the blooper reel "The Tonight Show" also released from filming.