By: Nathan Vicar
(WYCD) — Justin Timberlake’s Super Bowl halftime performance drew mixed reaction across social media, but there’s no denying that some Prince fans weren’t too happy with Timberlake’s tribute to the iconic Minneapolis musician, who died in 2016.
With rumors abound that Timberlake had planned on utilizing a Prince hologram, the singer instead segued from his own song, “Til the End of Time,” into Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U.”
There was no hologram, the images and sounds of Prince singing the song with Timberlake made it into something of a disembodied duet.
The Prince moment of the set was accompanied with images from the singer’s legendary 2007 Super Bowl halftime show, with television graphics adding swathes of purple and the singer’s famous glyph symbol over the arena and the entire downtown area of Minneapolis.
And fans didn’t think the Purple One would approve.
In a 1998 interview with Guitar World magazine, Prince was asked directly about the use of digital editing to “create a situation where you could jam with any artist from the past.” He was not a fan.
“That’s the most demonic thing imaginable,” he said. “Everything is as it is, and it should be. If I was meant to jam with Duke Ellington, we would have lived in the same age. That whole virtual reality thing … it really is demonic. And I am not a demon. Also, what they did with that Beatles song (Free As A Bird), manipulating John Lennon’s voice to have him singing from across the grave … that’ll never happen to me. To prevent that kind of thing from happening is another reason why I want artistic control.”
Fans immediately took to Twitter to voice their dislike of JT’s tribute.
Despite the mix reviews, Timberlake opened up about how the Prince tribute during his Super Bowl halftime show came together.
On Sunday’s live episode of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the 37-year-old singer revealed why he made the decision to pay homage to the late singer in Prince’s hometown of Minneapolis, Minnesota, during the big show.
“It’s a moment for me, if I’m being quite honest, because he’s always been the pinnacle of musicianship for me,” Timberlake revealed. “And when we decided that [we were going to do a tribute], like the serendipity and the synergy that we would be Minneapolis, and that he’s such a special thing here aside from what he is all over the world.”
“I just felt like I wanted to do something for this city and something for him that would just be the ultimate homage to what I consider the G.O.A.T. of musicians,” he continued.
Timberlake even admitted that he was nervous performing a virtual duet with Prince, but one person’s stamp of approval made it all worthwhile.
“And, also, I’m not going to lie to you guys, because Questlove is the encyclopedia on music — I feel like a gatekeeper on Prince. [If] I got the thumbs’ up from Quest, I’m good,” he said, to which The Roots drummer and bandleader nodded: “It was good.”
Timberlake say they got the original recordings from Prince’s performances, which miraculously lined up to make the performance even possible.
“You have to understand, we got the actual vocal stems from ‘I Would Die 4 U’ — the actual recording — and then we got the uncut version of it and ‘Purple Rain’ and some way by the grace of Prince looking down on us, it synced up,” Timberlake explained. “It was like this crazy, serendipitous moment. I wanted to use that opportunity to do something special for this city but also my favorite musician of all time.”
You can watch Timberlake’s entire performance below.