Justin Timberlake has officially announced he will join the ranks of Michael Jackson, Prince and Beyoncé with a headlining performance at the 2018 Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show. In a video that seems like a possible tip of the hat to Abbott and Costello’s “Who’s on First?” routine, BFFs Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon engaged in some dad joke wordplay about "halves" and "time" before revealing that the former *NSYNC singer and unofficial SNL cast member will be tasked with giving the performance of a lifetime at the United States’ most-viewed television event of the year.
Justin Timberlake first performed at the Super Bowl Halftime Show in 2001 with *NSYNC, alongside Aerosmith, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige and Nelly. Just three years later, the last time Timberlake performed at the MTV-produced 2004 Super Bowl Halftime Show, a wardrobe malfunction known as “Nipplegate” rocked the nation. During a performance of “Rock Your Body” with Janet Jackson, Timberlake grabbed her bustier and accidentally exposed her breast on national television. Corporate sponsors of the show were unhappy with the incident, and the Federal Communications Commission received over half a million complaints about Jackson’s indecent exposure that lasted just 9/16ths of a second. Viacom, the parent company of CBS and MTV, settled with paying the FCC $3.5 million later that year.
While both Jackson and Timberlake insist that the reveal at the end of “Rock Your Body” was accidental, Jackson’s reputation was sullied. Not only would Jackson never perform at the Super Bowl again, but she was reportedly blacklisted at the time by Viacom media entities, with MTV, VH1 and numerous other radio stations pulling her music videos and songs. It was not until a full decade after Nipplegate when the former FCC chairman Michael Powell admitted to acting unfairly towards Jackson.
In a recent interview with NBC, Timberlake cheekily assured that an incident like Nipplegate “won’t happen this time” at what will be his third Super Bowl halftime performance. Timberlake is a dad now, so don’t expect any performance “gags” either. The “Can’t Stop The Feeling” singer insists that as of right now there also won’t be any Gaga-inspired acrobatics, but the goal is to just get everybody to dance. Don’t hold your breath for a Janet Jackson duet, as the singer is still reportedly banned from appearing on the show, but do keep your fingers crossed for a NSYNC reunion (it's happened before), or at least the best FutureSex/LoveSounds* live medley you’ll ever hear in your entire life.
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