Justin Timberlake: “a true career malfunction”
Minneapolis decked out the city in Super Bowl-themed regalia; unfortunately this decor couldn't detract from Justin Timberlake's failed halftime show. Photo courtesy of Tony Webster.

Justin Timberlake: “a true career malfunction”

This past Sunday, the Philadelphia Eagles took home their first ever Super Bowl Championship and fans have yet to stop celebrating. Thousands of highly-anticipated Philadelphians filled street corners to mark their glorious victory over the New England Patriots. Viewers tuned in to experience a season-ending game with celebrities, wrestlers, and rappers alike. Not a single body in sight could remain in their seats.

Except during halftime.

The NSYNC pop star, Justin Timberlake, also made history with his first headlining Super bowl performance. But much to our surprise, that may be the only accomplishment of his from the night. We kick off halftime with Jimmy Fallon dangling from a Hollywood-inspired Pepsi sign.  Strobe lights flicker on a hidden silhouette. A few sudden bursts of light later, and out emerges Timberlake. Viewers witnessed a jam-packed montage of his older work unfold. From “Sexy Back” to “Suit & Tie”- even a breakaway dance number fell into the mix.

Yet the highlight of the night encompassed a 70 ft projection of the late Prince. On a sleek white piano, Timberlake sang along to “I Would Die 4 U” as exclusive footage of the legend himself played in the backdrop. Purple lights covered the entire stadium to pay homage to the Minneapolis musician.

To wrap things up, Timberlake storms up flights of stairs to greet his fans even stopping to take a selfie with a young Timberlake look alike. Seconds later, the same teen is completely unconcerned as he breaks away to fiddle with his phone. It is possible that his blank expression resonated with all of us from start to finish.

In a VEVO Behind the Scenes look at the making of Timberlake’s new album, he labels his creation as one that stems from his southern heritage. Timberlake states that his music is “modern Americana with accolades.” However, this version of JT didn’t seem in attendance Sunday night. Maybe the landscape flannel and retro Jordan’s represented the artists’ crossover from R&B to a country theme, but it’s safe to say, our mild entertainment was based on a complete rip-off.

If Justin Timberlake’s style choice has taught us anything, it’s that he has and always will be the “Man of the Woods.” Janet Jackson, Prince, and many other notable performers were grossly exploited in Timberlake’s climb to fame. After advertently glossing over the verse that led to Jackson’s infinite sexualization, one can only assume Timberlake had one intention – to boost sales.

Timberlake joined Jackson on this same stage over a decade ago, but most remember the “Nipplegate” case like it was yesterday. In 2004, the two performed side by side and later bra-in-hand. At the end of “Rock your Body”, Timberlake ripped off a piece of Jackson’s bustier leaving her exposed to the public eye. Although it was choreographed to leave her bra intact, this plan ultimately failed and only Jackson received the repercussions.

Along the same line, Timberlake has a background of insulting the now deceased Prince. At the 2007 Golden Globes, Justin mocked the singer’s height and later dedicated a verse to further the injury in his song “Give It To Me” that same year. Now, he has blatantly ignored the icon’s wish to not be remembered through a hologram. Many find comfort in the hologram type substitute while others speculate if a loophole is excusable.

Past headliners, such as Coldplay, merged their soft rock with a fresh showdown between Beyoncé and Bruno Mars. This level of collaboration was not only appropriate but also a grand gesture. Timberlake’s use of dancers could not distract us from the washed out audio.

The convenience of black culture and artistry have largely influenced Timberlake’s overall career. Without the scapegoat of reviving his former hits, there would be no halftime show. By capitalizing on the free publicity of resurrected rumors and legends, Timberlake embarks on his next project in which Billboard has already claimed to be a soon-to-be No. 1 Debut.