Justin Timberlake is set to return to the Super Bowl halftime show for the first time since his controversial halftime show with Janet Jackson at the 2004 edition of football’s biggest game of the year.
The singer and actor announced his 2018 Super Bowl performance early Sunday evening on his Twitter page that read: I DO have the time. Half the time...#PepsiHalftime #SBLII @Pepsi @ NFL @JimmyFallon @FallonTonight
The NFL confirmed his performance in a subsequent press release, writing: “Global superstar Justin Timberlake will headline the Pepsi Super Bowl LII Halftime Show on NBC at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minnesota on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018, it was confirmed tonight.”
Timberlake previously performed at Super Bowls XXXV and XXXVIII. His upcoming halftime show will make him the first artist to perform at three Super Bowl halftime shows.
It will also mark the first time he has performed at the Super bowl halftime show since 2004. His duet at that year’s game with Janet Jackson on the song “Rock Your Body” created an uproar, after he pulled off her nipple guard and briefly exposed her right breast.
Although their performance was carefully rehearsed and choreographed, the incident was later referred to as a “wardrobe malfunction.”
Neither Timberlake’s tweet nor the NFL press release make any reference to Jackson, who was subsequently dis-invited from appearing on the 2004 Grammy Awards telecast.
Timberlake did appear at the Grammys that year, as planned, leading to charges of sexism and racism. Jackson’s career never again rose to the same commercial heights she had achieved before the Super Bowl controversy.
A former member of the teen-pop boy band NSYNC, Timberlake was asked about his controversial 2004 duet with Jackson - late dubbed “nipplegate” - by “Football Night in America” host Mike Tirico Sunday night.
“That won’t happen this time.” Timberlake said. “There was a little bit of that (discussed with the NFL). But...no, Mike, that’s not going to happen...
“What I really want to do is take the opportunity to put together a performance that feels like it unifies. I feel like that would be the ultimate accomplishment, and then the icing on the cake is at some point, within that 12 minutes, that everybody is shaking their booty.”
In the wake of the 2004 Timberlake/Jackson performance, the FCC launched a major crackdown on “objectionable” broadcast material and instituted a 5-second delay during live TV performances that continues to this day.
In turn, the NFL retreated from featuring young performers at the Super Bowl, instead turning to such classic-rock acts as Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones, The Who, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. The NFL did not feature another female act at the Super Bowl until Madonna in 2012.
The NFL Super Bowl halftime show has become the most watched TV performance of the year. The 2016 edition, which featured Beyonce, Bruno Mars and Coldplay , drew a record 160 million viewers. Lady Gaga headlined this year’s Super Bowl halftime show, then - as has become customary for Super Bowl performers - announced her latest concert tour within seconds of the halftime show.
Unconfirmed reports indicate that the NFL had approached Jay-Z prior to Timberlake, but that the hip-hop superstar declined the 2018 Super Bowl halftime show invitation because of the current NFL current controversy over players refusing to stand during the playing of the national anthem.
Not surprisingly, a backlash against Timberlake has already started, with journalist Ernest Owens writing: “Still ensuring white privilege remains in style in 2017. Meanwhile, Janet Jackson is still left in the cold. My only request is that you don’t perform any of the music inspired by her brother or any Black artist. You love our culture, but disrespect our people.”