What happens when the Man of the Woods becomes the headlining singer on the Super Bowl field?
Justin Timberlake took the halftime stage while the Philadelphia Eagles were 10 points ahead of the New England Patriots at Super Bowl LII. Like Tom Brady, his bromantic partner, Timberlake had a lot to overcome
Earlier in the day, the hashtag #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay was trending on Twitter in protest of the role JT played in Jackson's Super Bowl XXXVIII wardrobe malfunction. And a few days prior to the performance, critics including USA TODAY's Maeve McDermott slammed Timberlake's new album.
He may not have won over all of his critics Sunday night, but he created plenty of buzzy moments during his show.
1. That fringed outfit.
Not exactly what you'd expect the Filthy singer to emerge with: fringed sleeves. He opened with the new single from Man of the Woods and a Coachella-ready outfit. Viewers, including comedians Aisha Tyler and Billy Eichner, took note. Timberlake later ditched the jacket and showed off a camouflage-print ensemble.
2. His second song was famously played at halftime before, with Janet Jackson.
Timberlake segued into Rock Your Body, and many viewers remembered that it was a tune they'd heard on the Super Bowl stage before. Back in 2004. When Timberlake exposed Jackson's breast.
3. Prince was projected on a giant screen.
Prince was a Minneapolis native. So it made sense that JT would want to include the icon in his show — and make the lights purple for his song Until the End of Time and Prince's I Would Die 4 U. However, a posthumous duet with JT on piano earned mixed reviews on Twitter. Critics including Sinbad said it's not what Prince would have wanted.
Aside from the Prince projection, there were no special guests with Timberlake, as promised. That meant no 'N Sync, no Chris Stapleton and no Jackson.
4. JT took a Super Bowl selfie with a kid in the crowd.
Not since Ellen DeGeneres took a celebrity-filled selfie at the Oscars in 2014 has someone taken so public a social media picture. JT went into the audience and hammed it up for a young fan in the stands. In a meme-worthy moment, the boy appeared more distracted by his phone than he was by the singer in front of him.
5. There were dance breaks and a marching band.
JT's song with Jay-Z, Suit and Tie, got a new twist with the University of Minnesota's marching band. FutureSex/LoveSounds tune SexyBack and Justified classic Senorita had dance-filled numbers and a boomerang mike stand. 20/20 Experience's Mirrors had an elaborately staged showing with, yes, mirrors. And then Can't Stop the Feeling! had everyone — well, at least the hundreds of dancers gyrating on the field — grooving with rainbow colors.
Famous fans including Victoria Justice, Diana Ross, Shawn Mendes and Jenna Dewan Tatum sang JT's praises on Twitter.