So Justin Timberlake finally took the Super Bowl stage. And it was... fine. It was normal. It was a serviceable Super Bowl halftime show, but that's kind of it. It saw him cruising through his hits from "Rock Your Body" (which, as Jon Caramanica points out for the New York Times, was a fairly tacky choice for inclusion, considering it was the song during which Janet Jackson's Super Bowl disgracing happened at Timberlake's hands in 2004) to recent single "Filthy."
Though it was large scale, it had little of the energy or virtuosity of even last year's Lady Gaga performance (get back to me when you fly in on wires, Justin). Neither did it have any of the simple showmanship of Prince's 2007 appearance, which, as last night's Super Bowl took place in Minneapolis, Prince's hometown, was surely a height Timberlake hoped to scale.
It was not to be – you couldn't, after all, really expect too much from a performance introduced by Jimmy Fallon yelling about Pepsi – and though Timberlake invoked Prince (projected on, uh, a sheet, rather than in hologram form, which Prince detested), the moment felt weird and stilted. Dressed in his fringed leather jacket and bandana Man of the Woods regalia for most of the performance – imagine having the temerity to play the SuperBowl in cargo pants, by the way – Timberlake skated through a medley of famous tracks which was just OK. Nothing showstopping, nothing risky, not even an invitation for or nod towards the wronged Janet Jackson, who confirmed before the game that she would not be performing.
It was because of this hyper-observed safeness that Justin Timberlake found himself upstaged, both by a kid in the crowd (dubbed online as Selfie Kid, this year's Left Shark), on whom the camera lingered for far too long, as Timberlake gestured for him to take a selfie of them like the embarrassing dad he is, and by Kylie Jenner's baby announcement on social media. It was simply not an attention-grabbing performance, and that tells us all we need to know about the artist that Justin Timberlake is in 2018: safe, boring, serviceable, fine.
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