BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene
Well, at least we got some Prince.
Justin Timberlake’s third Super Bowl halftime appearance – his first commanding the field as a headliner – was a mishmash of his song catalog, a lot of his nimble dance moves and not much in the way of excitement.
No, as Timberlake already informed the public days ago, there was no guest appearance by his former ‘N Sync mates (though he did climb from the bowels of the stadium to its center with a group of dancers who looked more than a bit like that crew).
Nor did Janet Jackson – his long-ago partner in Wardrobe Malfunction History – show up. Though Timberlake performed the soundtrack to that piece of halftime history (“Rock Your Body”) early in his 12-minute showcase.
Elsewhere, we got some of his tepid new track, “Filthy,” under a shower of lasers; a “SexyBack” that started too slowly to recover by the time it hit its familiar club banger cadence; and a lot of bouncing with the crowd assembled on the field during a smidgen of “My Love.”
In his black leather fringe jacket, brown mottled suit and bandanna, Timberlake tried to find a balance between his suave past and his current reinvention as a “Man of the Woods.”
He even commissioned a full marching band to back him and his Tennessee Kids during “Suit & Tie” before making his way to another set piece – a white grand piano that offered more than a shade of Lady Gaga’s superior halftime show last year – to croon “Until the End of Time.”
But then came what every Prince fan hoped for – a tribute to Minneapolis’ enduring musical pride.
Timberlake respectfully duetted with an image of Prince on a purple backdrop for a slightly slowed version of “I Would Die 4 U,” highlighted by an exterior shot of the stadium – and, apparently all of downtown Minneapolis – illuminated in purple.
The sluggish set was capped with Timberlake’s effervescent cartoon movie hit, “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” as he scampered into the crowd to take selfies.
Because how else could a modern Super Bowl show end?
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