Monday, February 5, 2018

Justin Timberlake’s Prince-starring Super Bowl

Prince made an appearance, but not as a hologram as previously suggested

In the weeks leading up to tonight’s Super Bowl (February 4), there was a lot of speculation and controversy around Justin Timberlake‘s halftime performance. Should it really be him over Janet Jackson who gets another pop at appearing after 2004’s nipplegate? Would his old N’Sync bandmates join him in Minneapolis? And then, just days before the big event, a rumour emerged that he was going to use a hologram of local hero and global icon Prince in his set, sparking a huge backlash. This morning it was confirmed that that would not be happening.

But Prince did appear in some form. Towards the end of Timberlake’s big appearance, he worked his way to a B-stage and sat down at a piano. There, he began covering ‘I Would Die 4 U’, and footage of the Purple One was projected on a screen that looked like a giant bedsheet behind him. It was a short tribute – his whole performance was one big medley – but an emotionless, hollow one that had a tang of opportunism at worst, lack of thought at best, played out like a grab for headlines than out of genuine respect. 

The two artists weren’t the chummiest of pals after all – they famously had a brief spat around the release of ‘SexyBack’, and Timberlake mocked Prince during the 2007 Golden Globes – so it wasn’t the most ingenuous coupling of all time. It especially felt galling considering the singer had just used Prince’s Paisley Park for an album listening party where he served alcohol – something fans have taken offence to considering the late star reportedly didn’t serve booze at the premises before he died. All that considered, why not just let his own music and performance speak for itself?

When he did do that, though, the results were underwhelming. The Super Bowl halftime show is something of a spectacle and for a long time its performers have gone all-out to keep that tradition going. Last year, Lady Gaga sang ‘God Bless America’ from the stadium roof before flying down to the pitch on a wire to kick off her impressive set. Beyoncé‘s 2013 appearance brought with it a Destiny’s Child reunion and political overtones, while Katy Perry had Left Shark in 2015 (although you could argue that the dancer’s contribution wasn’t intended to be the big talking point of the night).


No comments:

Post a Comment