Justin Timberlake’s Super Bowl Halftime Show Was Like Bad Breakup Sex

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There was something a little leaden in Justin Timberlake’s action throughout Sunday night’s Super Bowl LII Halftime Show; something silenced in his voice, which lay low in the sound mix and was sometimes accompanied by backing vocals. The efficiency ran practically 14 minutes, however felt more like 20 in its slog through 8 tunes from Timberlake’s solo back brochure, plus one Prince cover. It was as though Timberlake was going through the movements of multi-threat virtuosity, since multi-threat virtuosity is exactly what he does and the marathon assortment is a medium he in some cases utilizes to reveal it off.

But the Justin Timberlake who stormed his method through his discography at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards is not the Justin Timberlake who was on that phase last night. He concluded his act in the represent a performance of his most current and confidential bonafide hit, “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” dancing near a young kid who recorded the encounter on his phone. “Super Bowl selfies!” is the last thing Timberlake, a papa now, stated to his international audience. His Halftime Show dragged itself along, lacking enjoyment, an efficiency of an efficiency.

It advised me of the type of perfunctory sex you have with somebody right prior to you break up with them– functionally, it’s basically the like it constantly was, however the enthusiasm is gone and everyone understands it. In this case, one celebration is at least acknowledging that, and loudly– Timberlake has actually experienced an important knocking for his just-released 5th album Man of the Woods The type of buffooning his every current public relocation has actually gotten on Twitter– which mostly appears fed up with Timberlake’s self-entitlement and occurring cultural tasting– advises me of how, in 2015, the tide switched on Katy Perry, who cannot show the wokeness she declared to accomplish in Witness and hence changed into a laughingstock.

I question if Timberlake has actually read his evaluations, if he’s conscious of the reaction to his music and involvement in the Super Bowl, and if that contributed in his palpably lessened energy onstage. Composed into the halftime program, however, were a couple of indicators that he, in reality, does not provide a fuck about the haters. He implicitly referenced his efficiency together with Janet Jackson in 2004– you understand the one– by singing “Rock Your Body,” simply as he did 14 years back. Prior to he got to the line that as soon as precipitated his elimination of the product covering Janet Jackson’s best breast, he stopped briefly: “Hold up stop!” he called last night, prior to: “Ahhhh!” Just exactly what did he indicate by that? It appeared less tribute, as Vanity Fair argued, than a purposefully unclear callback, however the simple possibility it may be checked out as a punchline was a pointer that Timberlake had actually successfully gotten away with Nipplegate while Jackson did not. It was naturally smug, whether it understood it or not.


There was likewise the phantasmagoric existence of Prince, who in life appeared to believe Timberlake was a cornball (when he considered him at all) and has actually been the butt of a few of Timberlake’s dumb jokes. In 1998 Prince called the possibility of having fun with a dead artist through innovation “demonic,” when word dripped that a “hologram” making of Prince would become part of Timberlake’s Halftime program, it was likewise met protest. Ultimately, Prince partner Sheila E., revealed on Twitter that she consulted with Timberlake and there would be no hologram. I’m uncertain if she was lied to or if the Timberlake device believed that the nature of the issue was innovation and it might all be resolved by rather simply predicting Prince on a screen, however there he was on a screen, singing with a man in his death that he likely never ever would have offered the time of day in life. I’ll yield that I believed today stripped-down, ballad variation of “I Would Die 4 U” was good.

That the efficiency looked like both a resenting effort to captivate and a fuck-you to criticism rendered it wishy-washy. Which’s something pop should not be, offered the kind’s precise (in some cases diabolically so) workmanship.


That is precisely the issue, too, with Man of the Woods. Perhaps noticing that it is time to obtain a bit more substantive in his artistry, Timberlake called the album “personal” in its marketing trailer. Atop its relatively traditional electronic beats, which vary from luxury yacht rocky-disco to dad-trap, Man is awash with guitars of all sorts– folky arpeggiated guitars, twangy nation guitars, Spanish guitars, distorted junkyard funk guitars. It’s a pivot to so-called confessional singer-songwriter pretension, a la Lady Gaga’s Joanne A minimum of Joanne stated something in some cases; Man of the Woods gestures at concepts that might be notified by Timberlake’s life (“Fame’s a lie”) however keeps them as inexplicable and unclear as any of Timberlake’s previous lyrical expression. There’s not even a genuine sign what being a male of the woods suggests (pride for your lady???). Aside from a reference of mountains, “Montana” might be about anywhere up until its conclusion, where the state is particularly called. The suggestions Timberlake provides to his kid– whose cooing appears on the album in an effort to make it genuine– is so unspecific (“You gon’ have to stand for something”), you’re left questioning if he’s truly fulfilled the kid he’s singing to.

My coworker Clover Hope explained the conceptual shoddiness well in an evaluation of the video for Man‘s title track: “It seems like he can’t commit to whether the country narrative he’s going for should be authentic or goofy and it’s quite confusing.” At the extremely least, Timberlake’s obligation here is to buy his idea. If he does not, why should we? With noticeable pretense and glaring joints, Timberlake’s album-long quote for credibility is yet another efficiency of an efficiency.


There’s likewise a joylessness to everything– the album, the Halftime Show– that may provide you the sense that Timberlake believes that simply appearing and doing the Timberlake thing suffices, even if he desires call it something various this time around. Well, as your profession enters its 3rd years, individuals begin to get ill of you if you’re continuously telephoning it in. You understand, as much as I do think that Janet Jackson’s profession sustained long-term and direct damage as an outcome of Nipplegate, one might fairly make the argument that she was due for a decrease anyhow. Every pop star’s industrial practicality ends at some time, and maybe Nipplegate sped up an unavoidable procedure. Timberlake played the Super Bowl at an important point in his profession, where the requirement for him to step up his output creatively is clear and that he may in fact not can doing so is beginning to appear like a genuine possibility. If that winds up being exactly what he exposed at the Super Bowl last night– if that was his own sun-clad nipple– and it speeds up the decrease of his own profession, well, would not that truly be something?

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