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Justin Timberlake Defends Prince Tribute, Gives Props to “The GOAT”

Justin Timberlake sang and danced his handsome rear end off on Sunday night.

The artist performed at halftime of Super Bowl 52, running through such hits as “Gone,” “Can’t Stop That Feeling” and “Cry Me a River,” while almost literally running the entire time.

Seriously, he must have covered, like, three miles between all his dancing, shaking and mere moving around the stadium in Minnesota.

While the halftime act in general has received modest to mixed reviews, one aspect of the performance in particular has largely been panned.

About three-quarters of the way through his set, Timberlake sat down at a computer and paid tribute to Prince, covering a few bars of “I Would Die 4 U.”

As he did so, a few photos of the legendary musician (who died of a drug overdose in April of 2016 and who famously made Minnesota his home) were projected on a giant screen nearby.

Why did this tribute not go over well with many viewers?

As explained below, it’s because Prince once referred to the idea of singing a duet with a dead artist via hologram to be terrible and “demonic.”

Granted, Timberlake did not use a hologram.

But he did rely on Prince’s likeness as part of his concert.

Appearing later on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Timberlake explained why he wanted overall to pay homage to Prince.

“It’s a moment for me, and if I’m being quite honest, it’s because he’s always been the pinnacle of musicianship,” Timberlake said, adding in more detail:

“And when we decided that the serendipity and synergy [of being] in Minnesota – 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 GOAT [Greatest of All Time] of musicians.”

That’s fine and all.

It’s great and admirable, even.

No one is disputing that Timberlake should have given Prince a special shout-out.

There was even a Las Vegas prop bet one could have made that predicated Timberlake would cover a Prince track… and the odds were pretty low because it was nearly a given this would take place.

The controversy has simply arisen over the projected pictures of the late superstar on screen.

JT did not really touch on this topic while speaking to Fallon, however.

He simply expounded on what went into the homage itself.

“We got the actual vocal stems from ‘I Would Die 4 U’ and the actual recording, and then we got uncut footage from his performance of it in ‘Purple Rain’ and somehow, someway, by the grace of – probably Prince looking down on us – it synced up and it was this crazy, serendipitous moment,” he said.

“I just wanted to use that opportunity to do something special for this city, but most of all my favorite musician of all time.”

You can relive the entire performance here:

Toward the end of his interview with Fallon, Timberlake did seem to acknowledge some of the negative press surrounding his act.

But Questlove gave Justin a thumbs-up from across The Tonight Show stage and, to Timberlake, this said it all.

“Questlove is the encyclopedia on music, but I also feel like a gatekeeper on Prince, so if I got the thumbs-up from Questlove, I’m good,” he said.

Do you agree?

Overall, hand out a grade for Timberlake’s halftime act below:

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Prince Fans Destroy Justin Timberlake for Halftime “Tribute”

Justin Timberlake performed a medley of his most beloved hits at halftime of Super Bowl 52.

Did you catch the dance-filled act?

Relive it HERE if not.

The 13-plus minute performance featured Timberlake belting out such hits as "Can't Stop This Feeling" and "Gone," but the focus a day later is on the minute or two during which he sat at a piano and played a cover of Prince's "I Would Die 4 U."

What a nice tribute to the late musician, who made his home in the Super Bowl host city of Minnesota, right?

WRONG, many Prince fans are now saying. So very, very, very, VERY wrong.

Scroll down and all around to find out why: 

1. May He Rest in Peace

May he rest in peace
Prince, of course, died in April of 2016. He was famous for his Minneosta mansion and he performed at halftime of the Super Bowl in 2007, leaving many to assume Timberlake would cover a song of his this year.

2. NO HOLOGRAM, JT!

No hologram jt
A song would have been great, but this is where the controversy started, with talk that Timberlake would sing alongside a Prince hologram during his act. Many years ago, Prince said the following about the use of such a device: “That’s the most demonic thing imaginable. 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.”

3. Easy, Folks

Easy folks
Long-time Prince friend Shiela E. said prior to the show that rumors of Timberlake using a hologram were false. She assured everyone this would NOT take place.

4. Okay, Phew

Okay phew
Social media users felt a lot better after reading the message.

5. And She Was Sort of Right

And she was sort of right
Check out the above photo. It’s not a hologram. It’s just a projection of Prince of a giant screen. But try parsing that difference to loyal Prince supporters, who were far from happy about Timberlake’s stunt.

6. Did This Count as a Hologram?

Did this count as a hologram
Yes, it might as well have in the eyes of critics who took to Twitter and blasted Timberlake.

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