Justin Timberlake’s Super Bowl Halftime Show Could Have Soared
Enjoying his third time gracing the halftime show’s slot, pop musician Justin Timberlake sang and danced his way through the U.S. Bank Stadium at Minneapolis on the night of Feb. 4, 2018. But despite reminding the world of his resume of hit songs, the show overall did not reach the heights Timberlake had hoped for.
Starting out with the awkward supersonic monster of an attempt at a comeback single, “Filthy,” Timberlake began performing in an apparent underground club scene, below the stadium field. Despite its lyrics calling out his haters, the song is a dejected reminder of how his recent album, “Man of the Woods,” has not won over critics and audiences as much as his past albums have.
Continuing with the catchy yet controversial “Rock Your Body,” Timberlake finally emerges with the song’s memorable choreography, advancing off with his signature swagger.
Bear in mind, this was the song where Timberlake accidentally ripped part of fellow musician Janet Jackson’s clothing off to reveal her breast, back in the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.
This year, Timberlake consciously omitted the lyrics, “Bet I’ll have you naked / By the end of this song.” These were the lyrics during which he exposed Jackson’s breast all those years ago. Jackson herself took to social media prior to this year’s halftime show to confirm she will not be performing, much to the disappointment of her fans and supporters who believe she was unfairly treated by NFL. That post has since been deleted.
It was a major scandal back in 2004 and many people argued that Timberlake did little to help Jackson whose career and reputation sank due to her “wardrobe malfunction.” Some critics even brought up white privilege and how Jackson, being a black woman, had to work even harder to get back into the music scene.
Timberlake continued the show with hits like “Senorita,” the iconic “SexyBack,” “My Love” and “Cry Me a River.” It becomes gradually clear that Timberlake may be a pop icon of the past now, since a vast majority of his successful songs belong in the last decade. Even his works with boy band *NSYNC were primarily in the late 1990s.
This hereby brings up another issue: can Timberlake sustain his star power for the near future?
He only has had three major hits in the 2010s: the gentleman-oozing “Suit & Tie” and the poignant “Mirrors” (both in 2013 from his acclaimed “The 20/20 Experience”), and the family-friendly “Can’t Stop Feeling!” (from the 2016 film, “Trolls”).
The next thorn in Timberlake’s show was his tribute to the late musician Prince, with whom they had a feud back when he was still alive. Despite massive rumors and reports that Timberlake will feature a hologram of Prince here (holograms were something Prince himself called “demonic”), archive footage of Prince was simply projected onto a large screen.
While it was touching in the moment, particularly when Prince’s famous symbol was lit up in purple, it felt rather disingenuous and out of touch in reality, as if Timberlake did not remember how Prince felt about him and his music.
Ending his show with a selfie with an unsuspecting boy in the audience which has since gone viral, varies reactions popped up on social media.
One specific topic was how Timberlake should have brought out much-anticipated guests like Janet Jackson (as a form of a public apology for the 2004 controversy) or *NSYNC.
But while Timberlake was able to carry the show himself, one may worry whether he can continue to thrive in this ever-evolving music industry.