Justin Timberlake hasn’t had the best of luck with performing on the Super Bowl halftime show. Back in 2004 the Mirror singer was part of a huge controversy when he performed with Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl XXXVIII. Whilst performing his single “Rock Your Body” he pulled the front of Jackson’s leather outfit to reveal her breasts to thousands of live audience members and millions of viewers at home. In the middle of intense outrage the media decided to persecute Jackson while Timberlake managed to escape relatively free of blame.
One would hope that the Singer/actor would have redeemed himself with an amazing performance this year, but alas that was not the case. JT once again made headlines as viewers took to social media to critique every aspect of his performance, from his outfit choice to a disastrous Prince tribute.
Justin Timberlake opened the show with a new song ‘Filthy’ off of his brand new album Man of the Woods as he transitioned into ‘Rock Your Body,’ the very same song he performed during the 2004 debacle. He came on stage wearing a fringed leather jacket which he discarded revealing a graphic shirt with the picture of elks and mountains accompanied by an orange bandana. Twitter took notice of this as comedian Aisha Tyler tweeted “Justin Timberlake is wearing an outfit he found in Johnny Depp’s Goodwill donation bag. #superbowlhalftimeshow”
The performance itself was praise-worthy with impeccable falsettos and commendable choreography. Celebrity fans like Shawn Mendes, Nick Jonas and Demi Lovato tweeted out their love and appreciation but all praise was overshadowed by the disastrous Prince tribute.
Halfway through the halftime show, the singer proceeded to perform a piano rendition of Prince’s ‘I Would Die 4 U’ with piped in vocals and a video of the ‘Purple Rain’ singer, himself on a fluttering sheet. This met with social media outrage as fans pointed out that this was not something Prince himself would want or appreciate.
In a 1998 interview with Guitar World, Prince was asked about using hologram technology to perform with an artist from the past. He responded, “Certainly not. That’s the most demonic thing imaginable. Everything is as it is, and it should be. If I was meant to jam with Duke Ellington, we would have lived in the same age,” he added, “That whole virtual reality thing… it really is demonic. And I am not a demon.”
Fans were outraged as they took to twitter to express their dismay. One fan said “The Prince tribute would’ve been cool… except Prince specifically said he didn’t want that, right? Even in death, Prince continues to be misunderstood.” While another fan just said “I’m sorry but Prince would be livid”
Another cringey moment from JT’s performance was when he approached a young boy in the audience and what ensued must be one of the most awkward moments in Super Bowl history. Timberlake burst into the crowd right towards the end of his performance when a 13 year old Ryan McKenna was otherwise engaged with his phone. McKenna was actually trying to click a photo when the singer slid next to him. It looked like he was unimpressed by JT when in reality he was struggling with his phone trying to open the camera app on his phone. This particular moment was noticed by twitter as a deluge of memes flooded twitter. One user wrote, “After the selfie, Justin Timberlake was dead to him.” Another user wrote “You already know that kid posted that selfie with JT immediately after he took it because he never got off his phone”