Pop star Justin Timberlake will perform at halftime of the 52nd Super Bowl, it was announced yesterday evening in an excitedly adolescent announcement video Timberlake posted with Jimmy Fallon (below). The game will take place at Minneapolis, Minn.’s U.S. Bank Stadium on Sunday, Feb. 4.
The show will be directed by Hamish Hamilton, who filmed the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2012 London Olympics. It is sponsored by Pepsi, which has featured Timberlake in previous Super Bowl ads (despite his current role as “chief flavor officer” of Bai, a rival “health water” brand).
The announcement confirms rumors that Timberlake was the halftime show’s organizers’ lead choice, despite his part in the oft-remembered, nine-sixteenths-of-a-second-long “wardrobe malfunction” of 2004. The baring of Janet Jackson’s breast earned her a lifetime Super Bowl ban and sharp criticism that never seemed to extend towards Timberlake.
“I personally thought that was really unfair,” Michael Powell, the former head of the FCC, told ESPN in 2014 of the heavy criticism Jackson received post-Nipplegate. “It all turned into being about her. In reality, if you slow the thing down, it’s Justin ripping off her breastplate.” Timberlake himself told MTV in 2006: “I probably got 10 percent of the blame, and that says something about society. I think that America’s harsher on women. And I think that America is, you know, unfairly harsh on ethnic people.”
The booking has already drawn sharp criticism on social media for people say is a double-standard, asking why Timberlake has been celebrated while Jackson remains blacklisted.
The controversy also led to a years-long challenge from CBS over a $550,000 fine from the FCC, a challenge which CBS eventually won in 2011.
A similar flare-up followed the performance of M.I.A., born Mathangi Arulpragasam, who raised her middle finger during Madonna’s 2012 halftime show and was subsequently fined by the NFL for the gesture. M.I.A. eventually reached a settlement with the league.
It will be Timberlake’s third time on the halftime show stage, “giving him the distinction of having the most appearances by an individual entertainer,” the NFL wrote.