Justin Timberlake features Prince tribute in Super Bowl halftime show
Video of late Minneapolis-born musician was projected on screen as Timberlake sang I Would Die 4 U
He stuck to some of his most popular hits such as Mirrors, Cry Me A River and SexyBack, but it was a tribute to Prince in between that made Justin Timberlake's Super Bowl halftime performance stand out.
In the 13-minute medley, Timberlake spent one minute paying homage to the late Minneapolis-born musician. Timberlake sat at a piano and sang a medley of his own song Until The End of Time and Prince's I Would Die 4 U.
Footage of Prince in Purple Rain was projected on a giant screen in the background. An aerial shot of the city showed it bathed in purple light forming the shape of Prince's insignia.
"Minneapolis, this is for you," said the singer before it started.
Timberlake opened the show with his new single Filthy. He also sang Rock Your Body, My Love and Suit & Tie, ending with the uplifting dance track Can't Stop The Feeling. In between, there was a marching band, selfies with the audience, giant reflecting mirrors and a lot of dancing.
INCREDIBLE, <a href="https://twitter.com/jtimberlake?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@JTimberlake</a>! <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PepsiHalftime?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PepsiHalftime</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SBLII?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SBLII</a> <a href="https://t.co/dWkGTdyvnA">pic.twitter.com/dWkGTdyvnA</a>—@NFL
As expected, there were no guest appearances. Timberlake had said previously that his former boy band members from 'N Sync and Janet Jackson wouldn't be there. Timberlake was Jackson's guest onstage in 2004 when the disastrous "wardrobe malfunction" happened with Timberlake ripping off a piece of Jackson's clothing at the end of the act, revealing her breast.
While Timberlake kept the energy high, the performance drew a mix of praise and condemnation online.
legit janet's best revenge is this performance—@choitotheworld
Inadvertently and unwillingly saw the halftime show while eating at the bar. <br>I feel myself spiraling into a deep dark hole of rage and depression .—@Bourdain
Some fans pointed out Prince's own words during a 1998 interview describing the ideas of a dead artist's digital likeness as "the most demonic imaginable."
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.—@adamcbest
Prince's family, however, seemed to approve. The Twitter account managed by his brother, Omarr Baker, gave a thumbs up.
👍🏽<a href="https://twitter.com/jtimberlake?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@jtimberlake</a> <a href="https://t.co/ldBaIZxPhP">https://t.co/ldBaIZxPhP</a>—@PRNFamily
The performance also got props from Nick Jonas and Diana Ross, among others.
I really really enjoyed Justin Timberlake on super Bowl halftime wow—@DianaRoss
Two words. JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE. Wow that was unreal. LEGEND. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SuperBowl?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SuperBowl</a>—@nickjonas
If you don’t think Prince woulda loved this, you’re not a Prince fan.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PepsiHalftime?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PepsiHalftime</a> <a href="https://t.co/zfF7czKub6">pic.twitter.com/zfF7czKub6</a>—@carlquintanilla
Yesss for the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/purple?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#purple</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/prince?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#prince</a> moment 💜 <a href="https://twitter.com/jtimberlake?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@jtimberlake</a> may he rest <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/PepsiHalftime?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#PepsiHalftime</a>—@TheRealEve
Big shoes to fill
Timberlake had big shoes to fill, after Lady Gaga dazzled the audience last year. So much so, in fact, that more people on average tuned into the 2017 halftime show than the Super Bowl itself. The NFL stated that 117.5 million people tuned in to the performance, while an average of 111.3 million people watched the game, according to Nielsen.
It was among the most-viewed performances in the event's history.
Return to the stage
Timberlake returned to the halftime show 14 years after his performance with Jackson ignited controversy. It led to a fine (later overturned) from the Federal Communications Commission.
Timberlake made reference to it as he sang Rock Your Body this time around, the same song he had performed with Jackson. He removed the lyrics that originally preceded the infamous incident: "Bet I'll have you naked by the end of this song."
The hashtag #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay was trending on Twitter on Sunday before the performance to celebrate the icon's influence on pop music and to acknowledge that her career unfairly suffered more than Timberlake's as a result of the fiasco.
With files from the Associated Press