There was a lot of excitement and controversy leading up to Justin Timberlake’s Super Bowl halftime show. There were rumors abound of an NSYNC reunion, an appearance by Janet Jackson and even a hologram of Prince, something the late artist described as “demonic.” Instead, we got a performance flatter than the giant sheet on which Prince was projected.
The performance was a mess from Timberlake’s opening song “Filthy,” performed in the cramped quarters of the U.S. Bank Stadium basement for some odd reason, which clearly had sound mixing issues based on the mismatch between Timberlake’s voice and the electronic wubs of the song.
Timberlake’s performance starts getting more enjoyable when he takes the field and performs some of his classics like “Sexy Back” and “Cry Me A River.” However, it was a very lackluster performance. Perhaps I’ve been spoiled by the performances of Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Bruno Mars from years past, but I felt like very little went into this halftime show. There were no musical guests, no stunts and no pyrotechnics, and even the choreography felt stiff. Instead we were treated to Timberlake running around between stages and taking “Superbowl selfies” while background vocals did more to carry the songs than Timberlake himself.
There were some enjoyable parts, though. We finally got a bit of spectacle when the U of M Marching Band took the field to play a rendition of Timberlake’s “Suit and Tie.” Timberlake and the band both delivered a great performance in this section, and the horns were a surprisingly good addition to the song.
The most standout part of the performance was Justin Timberlake’s homage to Prince. You could tell that Timberlake was putting his heart into his rendition of Prince’s “I Would Die 4 You” and “Until the End of Time” while Minneapolis was lit up with purple lights. This tribute to a Minnesota legend would have been a great way to cap off the performance.
Unfortunately, Timberlake decided to end the show with “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” a pure dose of catchy pop sugar recorded for the movie “Trolls.” The mediocre, soulless performance was highlighted by the “selfie kid” who made waves on the internet for taking a selfie with Justin Timberlake, only to immediately begin staring at his phone while the pop star sang right next to him. Then again, I can’t think of a more fitting ending to this mess of a halftime show.
This article first appeared in the Friday, February 9, 2018, Edition of The Echo.