'Trolls' brings new hue to classic 'True Colors'

Thu, Nov 3, 2016 at 12:00 PM by User 0 Comments

From USA Today - By Bryan Alexander

Justin Timberlake and Anna Kendrick were jet-lagged and nervous when they walked onstage at the famed Palais des Festivals during Cannes Film Festival in May.

The duo had flown into the South of France without time to fully rehearse their acoustic version of True Colors, the emotional centerpiece of the animated film Trolls. Hundreds of fans were filming the performance to share on social media.

Their soulful True Colors ended up being one of the showstopping events from the 2016 festival.

“It was an amazing moment. There was this relief that we pulled it off," Timberlake recalls. "And I also felt like, 'Wow, this song is really going to work well.' ”

True Colors will have its official theatrical unveiling when Trolls opens Friday, adding a new stripe to the song’s rainbow 30 years after Cyndi Lauper released it in 1986. The meaningful ballad has shown remarkable staying power, even becoming an anthem for the LGBT community.

“Selfishly, I just love the song, period,” says Timberlake. “But with what this song has come to mean for the world and equality, it doesn’t get any better than that.”

Songwriters Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly wrote True Colors, along with other huge '80s hits Like A Virgin, Eternal Flame and So Emotional. "(But) if I had to say which song was No. 1, it would be True Colors," Steinberg admits.

True Colors became the title track of Lauper's second album, topping the Billboard Hot 100 and earning Lauper a Grammy nomination for female pop performance.

The evocative lyrics ("I see your true colors/ Shining through/ I see your true colors/ And that's why I love you/ So don't be afraid to let them show") ensured memorable product placement, including a 1988 Kodak film ad featuring a boys' choir ("I'll never forget that commercial," Timberlake says).

But the deeper message of acceptance made the song enduringly popular, with Phil Collins, Eva Cassidy and the cast of Glee all recording cover versions. Lauper headlined a True Colors tour dedicated to human rights causes and co-founded the True Colors Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to eradicating LGBT youth homelessness by "creating a world in which young people can be their true selves."

“It’s not a song about sex or relationships. It’s just a song of empathy and humanity,” says Steinberg. “There's a short list of songs like that, and True Colors is one of those.”

Trolls director Mike Mitchell says he wanted the song for the movie from the earliest stages and played True Colors when he pitched Timberlake on playing the grumpy troll Branch. In Trolls, Branch reveals a softer side as he sings it to Poppy (Kendrick), who has had her confidence shaken to the core.

"We wanted a funny, weird movie, but we wanted it to be something with true emotional moments. True Colors worked on so many levels for that," says Mitchell. "There are some songs built to stand the test of time. And this is one of them."