Justin Timberlake’s Super Bowl LII halftime show was painfully adequate


Falling short of the comeback performance he needed, Justin Timberlake’s Super Bowl halftime performance is doomed to be one of the most adequate ever.

Falling short of the comeback performance he needed after a five-year hiatus from music and disappointing new album, Justin Timberlake’s moves and midtempo tracks at the Super Bowl 52 halftime show were easy, if not comically, overshadowed. Scene-stealers included a widely-mocked outfit, audio problems, a selfie kid turned Internet meme, and a Prince tribute no wanted — especially Prince.

Timberlake shunned a splashy opening mid-field for a performance of “Filthy” in a shoebox-size mock-underground club inside of the stadium. On America’s biggest stage, it was an unconventional and unexpectedly revealing move. The polarizing debut single off his Man of the Woods album is the quietest dance track, with its breathy robotic vocals drowned out by electro sounds. It was made for the dance floor, not Super Bowls and stadiums — and JT knew it.

It was an ominous hint at what doomed his performance to be adequate rather than iconic. The 14-minute medley revealed track-by-track that most of Timberlake’s greatest hits are solidly midtempo grooves lacking the big choruses and hooks that mass singalongs are made of. To make matters worse, the show was also allegedly plagued with audio problems.

Although generally safe and unremarkable, the show was not without controversy and comedy at Timberlake’s expense.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – FEBRUARY 04: Recording artist Justin Timberlake performs onstage during the Pepsi Super Bowl LII Halftime Show at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)

The former NSYNC star also performed a brief tribute to Prince on a lone white piano beneath a projection of the late Minneapolis singer on a long, flowing white sheet. The sweetness of the performance was undercut by an interview in 1998, where Prince called posthumous holograms “demonic.” Only a few days prior, former Prince drummer Sheila E tweeted that Timberlake had assured her there would be no hologram, appearing to skate by on the technicality that projections are not holograms.

Fans were not moved or amused, and the backlash was harsh.

In the post-wardrobe malfunction world, it’s no surprise that the NFL keeps its halftime stars on a shorter leash to guarantee solid and safe performances, especially from Timberlake.

But the show lacked adventure or innovation, rejecting fan’s pleas for an NYSNC reunion and hope of justice for Janet Jackson. The most the former Mousekateer did to acknowledge the infamous Super Bowl 2004 incident in which he accidentally exposed Jackson’s right breast during the telecast was with a wink and minor lyric change.

Next: 5 performers we want for Super Bowl 53

But at least not everyone witnessed how Justin Timberlake lost the Super Bowl. In the saddest of silver linings, early reports indicate that ratings were the lowest in eight years.