Judging by my Facebook and Twitter feeds last night, this is probably about to be an unpopular opinion. But, what is the internet for if not to express different ideas?
Sitting in a living room while my cousins cheer on the New England Patriots or the Philidelphia Eagles, I can’t tell which, I patiently wait like I do every year for the half-time show. For years I have looked forward to artists of all kinds to grace the stage and bring a show like no other. We saw it with Beyoncé reuniting Destiny’s Child in 2013, The Black Eyed Peas when they had Usher and Slash share the stage in 2011 and Bruno Mars pairing with The Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2014. While it is definitely not a must that you bring other artists on stage with you, I believe it keeps up with the tradition of the Super Bowl of bringing football fans and nonfootball fans together.
For someone like me, who doesn’t think about football at all during the year except for the Super Bowl, the event is an opportunity to share in something that I normally wouldn’t have in common with other people. Let’s be honest, no matter who you are on Monday, you know who won on Sunday and something I have brought with me is a sense of community and unity through music and an all-American event that millions of people tune in to watch. This sense of unity was not felt during Timberlake’s performance last night.
Justin Timberlake started out his show with a plug to his new album Man of the Woods by singing the first track called, “Filthy.” He then went into a medley of his hit songs including “Cry Me a River,” “Suit & Tie,” “SexyBack” and his most recent hit “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” in standard Super Bowl fashion. The performance had ample opportunity to make a big splash but fell flat due to poor vocals and mediocre lighting.
It felt as though the music was distracting from Timberlake’s actual singing and I was not sure how much of it was actually coming out of his mic. The show incorporated literal smoke and mirrors to distract from the fact that this performance did not stand up to those of Super Bowls past. It felt like we were all just watching Timberlake walk around, throw in some dance moves and flash a few smiles that he obviously kept in his back pocket since his boy-band days. While I recognize that Lady Gaga also did not bring anyone else to the stage, at least she jumped from the top of the stadium.
Possibly the most controversial moments of the night were when Timberlake took to a piano and sang Prince‘s song “I Would Die 4 U” while the late singer was projected onto a large sheet onlooking the crowd. Let it be known that Justin Timberlake and Prince were not exactly best friends during their time due to Prince making a comment after Timberlake’s song “SexyBack” was released saying, “sexy never left!” This was responded to by Timberlake with a stab at Prince’s height in a presentation speech and then later on a dis track with Timbaland called “Give It To Me.” The issue from fans comes from that they believe that given Timberlake and Prince’s rocky past, that he wasn’t the best catalyst for a Prince tribute.
While I do believe that any tribute a past icon such as Prince can be a positive take on any performance, I don’t believe it was enough to bring Timberlake’s performance to that of spectacular. Because this felt like your typical pop concert performance, it seemed like something anyone could see on your average tour instead of a once a year show that could really bring some unique and interesting takes to your music.
I feel like I’m being really negative. The upside to the show was that the dancing was on point, not only from Timberlake but also from his countless backup dancers that graced the stage with him. They did have some good use of props and everyone in the crowd seemed to be in high energy and really enjoying the performance… well almost everyone.
While I was not a huge fan of this year’s show, I can always look forward to next year’s. Honestly, I feel like P!nk could have handled the National Anthem and the half-time show but what do I know?