While it might be painful to hear that Justin Timberlake has seen better days, there’s something to be said for the fact that the most memorable part of the Super Bowl halftime show was Ryan McKenna, the “selfie kid.” For Justin, the halftime performance was a story of redemption. Like the Eagles, he was an underdog. The Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction at his last performance (over 14 years ago) was long gone, but never forgotten. At the half, he performed to give fans something new to talk about, but we’re not so sure the post–performance gossip is what he was aiming for.
Justin opened the show with his new single “Filthy,” from Man of the Woods, which he paid homage to in his camo hunting suit, an outfit neither trendy nor practical (it’s not every day you see a man emerge from the woods in a custom–made blazer by Stella McCartney). While people thought he would leave the “Rock Your Body” fiasco in 2004, he decided to tackle it head on, transitioning into the hit from 2002 as his second song. With a combination of audio issues and questionable lip syncing, Justin spent most of his performance focusing on visuals and only really using vocals at every other riff opportunity. There was minimal risk–taking and it was obvious that Justin was attempting to avoid controversy, but with any performance there’s going to be something the audience drags you for. In the end, you can’t stop the feeling if the feeling never started.
Whether it was the fact that he relied too heavily on songs of his past, or that he “disrespected” Prince in his rendition of “I Would Die 4 U,” the majority of JT's fans (read: critics) stand by the fact that Justin failed at bringing “SexyBack” and instead is caught up in this “cornball Dad” cliché. So, we wonder, has Justin embarked on a sad, Dad–pop, devolution? Or, was this just a bump in the road that will blow over and eventually have us all screaming “My Love” at his next performance?