Justin Timberlake Explains Why He Went Forward with His Controversial Prince Tribute
Justin Timberlake’s Super Bowl halftime show didn’t include any indecent exposure, but it wasn’t without controversy.
The singer, who performed a medley of his hits during Sunday’s show, went forward with a tribute to the late singer Prince.
“That whole virtual reality thing … it really is demonic. And I am not a demon,” he said in a 1998 interview with Guitar World.
Instead of performing with a digitally edited clip of Prince, Timberlake projected real footage of the late star performing “I Would Die 4 U” as he sang and played piano. Outside, Minneapolis lit up in purple as a tribute to Prince, whose hometown was the Minnesota city.
"It's a moment for me, if I'm being quite honest, because he's always been the pinnacle of musicianship for me. And when we decided that, like, the serendipity and synergy that we would be in Minneapolis, and that, you know, he's such a special thing here, aside from what he is all over the world, I just felt I wanted to do something for this city and something for him that would just be the ultimate homage to what I consider the GOAT [Greatest of All Time] of musicians," Timberlake told Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show after the game.
"And also, I'm not gonna lie to you guys because Questlove is the encyclopedia on music, but also, like, I feel like a gatekeeper on Prince, so if I got the thumbs up from Quest, I'm good,” he added.
Timberlake was sure to stress that the footage of Prince shown was real and not doctored. "I mean, you have to understand: We got the actual real vocal stems from 'I Would Die 4 U.' The actual recording! And then we got uncut footage of him performance of it in Purple Rain. Somehow, some way, by the grace of—probably Prince looking down on us—it synced up. It was like this crazy serendipitous moment,” he said.
“I just wanted to use the opportunity to do something special for this city, but most of all, for my favorite musician of all time."