The Pioneer

Justin Timberlake makes his return

Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Rebecca Olmos,
Staff Writer

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And he’s off to a busy start this year.

On Jan. 31, he celebrated his 37th birthday. On Feb. 2, he dropped his fifth album, “Man of the Woods.” To end the week on Sunday, Feb. 4, he performed at the Super Bowl Halftime Show.

Timberlake has received criticism for both the Sunday night performance and the new album. The performance brings up Timberlake’s past mistakes, as well as whether or not he appropriately paid tribute to Prince.

The announcement of his Super Bowl Performance had everyone asking, “But what about Janet Jackson?” The last time Timberlake took the stage during a halftime show was in 2004. There was that “wardrobe malfunction” in which Timberlake exposed Jackson’s nipple to the audience.

Although both were participants, Jackson took most, if not all, of the blame. Timberlake’s career went on just fine while Jackson’s did not. Jackson was even uninvited to the Grammy’s that year, but Timberlake received an invitation and walked away with an award.

Leading up to the halftime performance, Timberlake reassured us there would be no repeat of the incident. However, before and after he performed, Prince fans were upset. It was rumored that there would be a hologram of Prince, who died in 2016, projected during the halftime performance.

“Prince told me don’t ever let anyone do a hologram of me,” Shiela E., longtime bandmate of Prince, tweeted the day before the performance. “Not cool if this happens!”

The tribute also brings up a bad blood. The two had exchanged some words back in 2006 about whether or not sexy had ever left. “For whoever is claiming they are bringing sexy back,”  Prince said at a post-Emmys party, according to Vanity Fair. “Sexy never left.”

Timberlake felt it was just a clever lyric. He responded to critics of “SexyBack,” and possibly Prince as well, in the song “Give It To Me” in 2007.

“If sexy never left, then why’s everybody on my shit. Don’t hate on me just because you didn’t come up with it.”

A hologram of Prince did not show up but there was an image of him projected onto the stage. The tribute was in reference to Prince’s 2007 Super Bowl halftime performance. Prince is also from Minneapolis, where this year’s Super Bowl was held. This tribute was also apart of Timberlake’s 20/20 Experience World Tour. Timberlake even dedicated the tour’s Netflix special to Prince.

Timberlake’s performance was filled with some of his greatest hits. Within 13 minutes, viewers heard “Rock Your Body,” “SexyBack,” “Mirrors,” “My Love,” “Senorita,” “Cry Me River” and “Suit & Tie”. He also played one of his newest hits, “Can’t Stop the Feeling,” from the movie “Trolls.”

The only song played from his latest album was also the first single, “Filthy.” It received mixed reviews from both critics and fans. Its futuristic sounds resembled those from “SexyBack.” Although not as catchy, it is said that if you listen to it enough times, it will grow on you.

“Man of the Woods” has been receiving an average three out of five stars from reviewers such as Billboard and Rolling Stone. Although such scores are not terrible, the album has been criticized for being incohesive.

“As its title implies, much of Man of the Woods also comes with the moonshine-and-mason-jar glisten of country, blues and folk. You might expect a smooth guy like Timberlake to use this backdrop for a pickup truck cruise across the Florida-Georgia line,” The Rolling Stone wrote in their review of the album. “Instead, he has something more timely in mind for our new dark age: It’s the end of the world as we know it, and Justin Timberlake wants to have you naked for the apocalypse.”

All of this criticism about Timberlake’s new projects have those who are and have been loyal, dedicated fans screaming “Leave Justin alone!” Timberlake has been entertaining audiences for 23 years.

He started his music career in 1995 with the boy band *NSYNC. After leaving the group he released five solo albums. “Justified,” “FutureSex/LoveSounds,” as well as the two-parter “20/20 Experience,” all of which had multiple songs on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. “Man of the Woods” is no different with two songs currently on the Hot 100 chart.

Timberlake is not free from controversy or mistakes. However, he has continued to provide us with catchy lyrics and futuristic Timbaland/Neptune beats. So whether or not Timberlake has still “got it,” we’re all still listening.

“I don’t worry if things go wrong,” Timberlake said in a recent behind the scenes Super Bowl LII video. “Because perfection is the death of greatness.”

His Man of the Woods tour starts in Canada this March. Timberlake will be in the Bay Area at the SAP center April 24 and 25. Tickets range from $100 to $2,000.

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