Performing during the Super Bowl halftime show is a huge accomplishment for any star. As a solo artist, Justin Timberlake had his second chance to get it right after his risqué performance with Janet Jackson in 2004, this time around incorporating a Prince tribute that left many fans scratching their heads.
The pop star began by giving fans a taste of his own catalog, including crowd favorites such as “SexyBack,” “Cry Me a River” and “Suit & Tie.” He then launched into a dedication to The Purple One, a move that, while seemingly harmless, has true Prince fans crying foul.
Timberlake was first blasted for his tribute because many felt it was inauthentic. While it’s understandable to show the deceased musician love in his own city, the Tennessee kid infamously took several digs at the ’80s icon on Timberland-produced track “Give It To Me,” back in 2007.
The line is said to have been in response to the prolific songwriter’s own taunting of the Senorita singer, as Prince took a slight dig at JT’s hit “SexyBack.”
“For whoever is claiming they are bringing sexy back, sexy never left,” proclaimed the legend during a 2006 Emmy Awards party, according to Contact Music.
Timberlake also accepted an award on Prince’s behalf during the 2007 Golden Globes, mocking his 5’2 stature in the process.
Fans also aren’t happy with the fact that Timberlake entertained the idea of performing alongside a Prince hologram, a move the man himself said he’d disapprove of. Close friend and drummer Sheila E. expressed the concern to the former N’SYNC member and assured fans he wouldn’t go against the artist’s wish.
Family, I spoke w/Justin 2nite and he shared heartfelt words of respect for Prince & the Purple fans. I look 4wrd 2 seeing what I’m sure is going 2 be a spectacular halftime show. There is no hologram. 🙏🏽💋 pic.twitter.com/mhVXBfBa1B
— SheilaEdrummer (@SheilaEdrummer) February 4, 2018
Instead, his image was projected on a large billowing sheet behind the stage while JT performed his classic “I Would Die 4 U.”
Though Prince and JT didn’t have the closest relationship, Prince is still clearly one of Timberlake’s biggest musical influences, which may be why he’s attempting to make amends for their falling out, even after his untimely death in 2016. Die-hard Prince fans, however, just aren’t buying it.
Check out reactions below.
Justin Timberlake under fire after giving a tribute to Prince during the SuperBowl Halftime Show despite Prince’s public statements against Timberlake and Prince’s strong beliefs against technology like the one used to present Prince as a hologram. #Prince pic.twitter.com/z1tqRQHPiP
— Music News Facts (@musicnewsfact) February 5, 2018
Katy Perry did not ride a 30 foot tall golden lion, Beyoncé did NOT perform a tribute for Black Lives Matter and Lady Gaga did NOT fall off a roof for Justin Timberlake to disrespect Prince and wear a camouflage suit at the Super Bowl
— ْ (@pradacarey) February 5, 2018
wow its wild #JustinTimberlake did a tribute to Prince considering Prince hated him and literally wrote a song about how awful he was 🤔
— The Original Trash (@TragicAFGay) February 5, 2018
It woulda been better if Janet did the halftime (she deserves it than Timberlake Trash) and SHE did the Prince tribute just my opinion
— humannaturelove🦋 (@humannaturexox) February 5, 2018
Yes he did. His performance was boring and his tribute to #prince was trash. So nope!
— SinnerX (@Sinnerx) February 5, 2018
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Born and raised in Compton, California, Jessica Bennett began her career as an intern at The Oakland Post, and later, The Source Magazine. She went on to write for respected hip hop publications such as DJ Booth and Hip Hop DX before becoming the Urban Editor of pop culture website, Wetpaint.com. She joined Ebony as the Entertainment Editor August 2017. Bennett has interviewed such names as Vanessa Williams, Spike Lee, Tyra Banks, Forest Whitaker, Magic & Cookie Johnson and several others.