In contrast to the loads of people taking to the internet to state their displeasure with JT’s Super Bowl halftime show, I was very excited this morning when I woke up to the news that he finally announced the fourth leg of his upcoming “Man of the Woods” tour, which will include a stop at the Moda Center on November 16. For those who still have a bounty of love for Justin Randall Timberlake, tickets go on sale to the general public on Monday, February 12, and pre-sale starts this Wednesday.
Full disclosure: I am also completely biased. For the last two decades JT's been my only-sometimes-problematic white fave. I even stuck with him through those awful cornrows back in the *NSYNC days, and I’ve found it in my heart to forgive him for not shouldering more of the blame for Tittygate.
If you’re still upset about Janet Jackson’s career being stunted because of the whole Justin-removing-her-titty-flap-on-live-TV thing, I get it. It sucks really hard.
It’s so unfortunate that American audiences can totally handle seeing a bunch of men (mostly of color) give each other repeated concussions all season long, but if a Black woman’s breast is on screen for half a second, she must be blacklisted and her career discreetly derailed. Since JT apparently made his peace with Janet a long time ago, I recommend directing all that rage and hatred toward the FCC and the NFL—as they’re the entities responsible for Jackson being unfairly punished. But you know what? Janet Jackson just wrapped her “State of the World Tour,” and I heard it was fucking AMAZING. I think what Janet would like most is for us to stop talking about "the incident." Let's!
Since I am such a longtime Justin Timberlake fan, none of the criticisms or take-down pieces about my fave surprise me in the least. And I also don't fully disagree with some of these criticisms. But some dude at the Washington Post wrote a scathing roast of JT’s halftime show, his entire career, and apparently thinks Timberlake’s time in the spotlight is over. Pfffft! Okay, buddy.
I don’t think the halftime show was “bad” by any means, it just felt… like… regular? I love all of those songs from Justified and FutureSex/LoveSounds (obvi), and they were performed just fine, but it’s like I kept on waiting for a big reveal that never came. I like that he opened with “Filthy,” but why was that the ONLY song from Man of the Woods on the setlist? Why did he instead choose to sing all of his biggest hits from the early 2000s that we’ve already heard a bazillion times? I was hoping for less “Rock Your Body,” and more “Supply-eye-ies.”
I’ll admit I was a teensy bit disappointed by the lack of special guests, only because there were so many people he could’ve easily tagged. My desire for more was only heightened by the fact that JT chose songs that normally feature collaborators like Pharrell, Timbaland, Jay-Z, and Beyoncé.
While I didn’t see a need for a Prince tribute, I did enjoy seeing the city of Minneapolis lit up in purple. That was cute. However, if it were up to me, I would have asked Justin (nicely) if he could please perform “Kiss” instead, as that seems a more appropriate choice than “I Would Die 4 U.” There are lots of things I would change about my fave’s performance—starting with that disturbing elk shirt—but overall I thought he did a good and fine job.
Again, my biggest issue I see here is the song selection. I didn’t want an *NSYNC reunion (sorry), but I did want a preview of JT’s upcoming tour. I wanted him to outdo himself yet again and surprise me with something new and unexpected. When I think about it, that may be asking too much. I guess because it’s the Super Bowl, JT felt he had to sing the obligatory (and almost painfully family-friendly) “Can’t Stop the Feeling.” He didn’t cater to what the real and dedicated fans want and need. He played it safe, and to many viewers that came off as boring. But you know what? We can’t be mad at him (or anybody) for not being Beyoncé.
We currently live in a cancellation culture—artists and celebrities can easily become “cancelled” or instantly labeled as “trash” whenever their choices and words (or lack thereof) don’t match up with our own, when public figures don’t act as we think they should, or move through life with the gracefulness that the rest of us most definitely do. I’m not going to spend precious energy defending JT’s halftime show—it doesn’t exactly make it into my list of favorite JT performances—but I will defend his new album, Man of the Woods, which has quite a few gems on it. After seeing his magnificent “20/20 Experience” show a few times (completely worth every penny), I’m looking forward to seeing JT’s next big spectacle. Because this wasn’t it.