TGJ Roundtable: Justin Timberlake’s Super Bowl Halftime Show Review

Published: Monday 5th Feb 2018 by Sam

Welcome to the latest TGJ Roundtable!

Over the years, That Grape Juice has established a distinguished voice that – whether loved or loathed – sparks discussion, debate, and on occasion drama!

Though comprised of seasoned writers who share a similar outlook on Urban Pop culture, the idiosyncrasies of the TGJ team members often lend for quite heated debates “behind the scenes” about the hottest topics.

Now, we give you a front row seat to the show. In a format similar to ‘The View’ or ‘The Real’, TGJ editors – Sam, David, Rashad, and Joe – get real in a very candid way.

Today’s roundtable topic asks each anchor their thoughts on…

Justin Timberlake’s Super Bowl Halftime Show


If Justin Timberlake set out to cement his name in the history books last night, he achieved his goal. The issue is that it’s for all the wrong reasons.

That was the most boring, banal, and basic ball of “blah” shown at the Super Bowl in recent memory. Madonna’s grandiose offering in 2012 reset the bar for the millennial era, and quite literally all who’ve followed have snatched the baton and matched it in their own way. Case in point, Beyonce, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, and Lady Gaga.

It’s clear Justin opted for a stripped back “my band and I“ kinda jam, but the enormity of the platform simply demands for…more. Hence, his show was already running on empty before it even started.

And as it played out, it became increasingly clear that there’d be nowhere exciting to drive to.

Make no mistake, JT has the hits – ‘Cry Me A River,’ ‘Rock You Body,’ ‘Mirrors’ and more all sounded lush with the live arrangements courtesy of musical director Adam Blackstone.

However, not even a catalogue of classics could distract from the fact that Justin ultimately delivered a performance more fitting for the Kids Choice Awards than the most watched TV event of the year.

In going the no frills route, he bypassed any potential bolt of lightening that could have been delivered via a surprise guest or “OMG” moment. And when he did attempt the extra, namely “that” Prince moment, it only served to re-affirm how problematic “Justin Timberlake” is. Forcing a duet with someone who a) didn’t like you b) said as much on record, and c) isn’t here to “ok” it is flagrantly disrespectful. But hey, Janet could have told us about Justin and his ways years ago.

For the most part though, we were treated to infectiously tiring choreography that rendered the performance even more laborious to watch. It was dull, awkward, and reminiscent of someone’s dad doing the most after a beginners street dance class.

I was admittedly one of those initially angling for an appearance by Janet Jackson, for reasons of redemption and benefits of the platform (for her) moving forward. Hindsight is 20/20, but she ultimately made the RIGHT decision staying at home. Justin showed the length and breadth of basic-ness  with nothing or no one to distract from it.

A mediocre mess.



I enjoyed the performance.

Would I have enjoyed it a decade ago? No. Why?

Because the JT of yesteryear isn’t the JT of today.

A Super Bowl set launched to support ‘FutureSexLoveSounds’ would have delivered everything those critical of last night’s showcase were after.

However, now that Justin is gliding closer to 40 and almost twenty years removed from his time in NSYNC, it was important for him to give his fans something older, wiser and stately especially as his new album ‘Man of the Woods’ seek to do the same.

My biggest problem with the performance was his tribute to Prince considering their rocky relationship, and the fact that a number of its standout moments (see: selfies with audience) felt contrived.

Add to that the fact he isn’t as agile and charismatic as he was when people liked him , I understand why the performance has been panned, but think he should be applauded for not playing it safe and having the courage to hit the stage without any support…from the living.



I’m just going to be real and say my expectations were not that high in the first place, so for all intents and purposes JT actually exceeded them. First, we have to reflect. Historically, men have offered less of the spectacle and focused more on simply performing. Their female counterparts, on the other hand, usually went above and beyond with choreography, wardrobe, props, lights, etc. Justin’s performance felt like a good middle- ground between the ladies and gentlemen of yesteryear.

Furthermore, the last few years have seen his commercial efforts feature less and less choreo, so it was good to see him (even if stiffly at times) crank out a good old one-two step for the kids.

My only gripes with his performance were a) the Prince tribute – because, though tastefully done, the simple fact it was done was tasteless and b) singing ‘Rock Your Body’ and leaving out the “have you naked” line. Admittedly, because that song wasn’t exactly a big hit anyway, his set list could’ve easily done without it. Including it – sans that controversial line or not – felt like a dig at Janet.

All in all, though hardly worthy of inclusion on a “greatest of all time” list, JT’s set was entertaining, captivating, and a reminder that like it or not his nearly two-decade old solo catalog did make him worthy of earning the slot as the headliner…by his lonesome.

Ps. He missed a huge opportunity by not performing ‘Say Something’ and not publicly apologising to Janet.



I wasn’t particularly underwhelmed by Justin’s performance at the Super Bowl, as it was the very same thing he has been serving since 2002 — commonality. And I chose that word to not use another  that starts with a “b” and ends with a “c”.

It was the same choreography, the same entrance from his Oscars performance, the same musical arrangements, the same outfits you see him wearing in candid shots. And the same lack of respect for legends that paved the way for him (hey, Prince).

The only difference seems to be the reception he is getting.

Although I think people have been doing the most with the negativity over the past few days – from his album to his actual performance – I can’t say I’m particularly saddened by the situation. 14 years earlier it was a 37-year-old Janet Jackson whose stellar performance and album got ripped to shreds in unison and reduced to a half-a-second occurrence. So I see no injustice here.

His fans mustn’t worry though, it’ll  wash away in a matter of time. Something he should be thankful for when compared to the years of backlash Jackson received after their showing.

Hopefully for his supporters, he can bounce back from this lackluster performance where he failed hard bringing spectacle or sexy back.

Hang in there, JT! 😉


Do you agree with our picks? Who was spot on? Let us know your thoughts on the latest TGJ Roundtable and your thoughts on Justin Timberlake’s Halftime performance!

Your thoughts?

[Photo credit: Getty]

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  1. Beystansince1997 February 5, 2018

    Justin’s performance was (Award Show performance cute). Not Super Bowl worthy! Where was the fireworks?
    Where was the pyrotechnics?
    Graphic visuals?
    Guest performers?
    *NSYNC reunion?
    Better set list?
    So many things that could have made this better! Jennifer Lopez & Rihanna could have easily performed this year!

    • JOHNVIDAL February 5, 2018

      How the hell is Rihanna going to do better than him and any of the previous performers??? You lost the argument with that one. I agree with the rest.

      • Beystansince1997 February 5, 2018

        I never said Rihanna was better or more talented. If you actually read my comment. I am basically saying I was DISAPPOINTED & expected MORE from a veteran like Justin especially for the Super Bowl. They could have easily given Rihanna the Super Bowl stage if they allowed BASIC PERRY perform 3 years ago!

      • JOHNVIDAL February 5, 2018

        Why would they when even you are implying Justin is a better performer, disappointing to you this time or not? Rihanna can book it if she wants, like Basic Perry like you said yes. A different thing is if her team or she dare to do it cause it could be really bad. Katy at least has some more ambition and sense of color LMAO

      • Mark111 February 5, 2018

        His reading level goes out the window from the rage of hating Rihanna. Rihanna would do on a better show and that’s just facts.

      • Bam February 5, 2018

        Agreed Mark. His hatred for Rihanna is so bad and well known around here that he loses his argument before he can even make one. It’s actually funny the lengths he goes to take a dig at Rihanna even when no one else is talking about her. Sam I think I just found you a new writer for your team, lol!

      • JOHNVIDAL February 5, 2018

        Hmm this guy mentioned Rihanna LOL
        Mark Don´t be ridiculous. What fact is that Rihanna would make a better performance than anybody? You guys are teh ones blinded by your own delusion that Rihanna is good.

      • Bam February 5, 2018

        Lol and in the threads where no one is talking about her but you just decide to mention her? I like Rihanna’s music and music videos as a performer I’d never pay to see her cause I wouldn’t know if she’s gonna actually put in work or just collect a check. I’m not delusional at all no that’s your job and you’re doing it wonderfully dear.

  2. JOHNVIDAL February 5, 2018

    I think there´s a big chance Pink performs next year. Pulling a Gaga. Singing the National Anthem the year before and then booking the Halftime show. Pink is supposed to be one of the few ones left capable of big performances in many people´s opinion that still has not done it. Not that I am interested really but that´s my bet.

  3. IG : mixedboy February 5, 2018

    I agree ? with Sam. ?

  4. BOB February 5, 2018

    Name any male performer counterpart that could’ve done live singing, choreo and have musicianship at this level? ONLY Bruno. Usher too maybe, but he doesn’t sing this well live, when he’s on choreography.

    I seriously do not get the hate this legend gets this time around. It has to do with the social/politicial landscape right now, because this man have always respected the black community and chose to work with them, because they are his inspirations, mentors, colleagues etc. – and he have been explicit about this as well? He’s paying respect, tributing and being respectful. Even Questlove gave him the thumbs up for the Prince tribute, in the Jimmy Fallon interview? He does NOT deserve this rant he’s getting right now. And btw. why is it his fault and not the NFL regarding the Janet stunt? You do realise that Janet and Justin were in on this together right? I agree it’s wrong to ban her only (if that is actually what happpened), but it was the NFL in that case?!

    • TRUTH SERUM February 5, 2018

      USHER!!!!! You know, the one he copied

    • Jasmine February 5, 2018

      Usher can certainly do what Bruno does and his live singing voice is great. I remember when Usher went head to head with Luther when they performed for MJ. Usher sounds good live but of course Luther blew everyone on that stage away. Luther demoted 98 degrees to background singers and Usher to a hook singer LOL.

      • BOB February 6, 2018

        Usher is insane? I’m a huge fan, but TODAY I don’t think he could deliver what Justin delivered. He’s still another level, but Usher’s live singing when he’s been performing/doing choreography the last few years, hasn’t been on Justin’s level. But I like Usher’s voice more.

    • Jack February 5, 2018

      I was going to go into a long rant about exactly why he gets so much hate but then I reread your post and for you to think this man is a legend??!! I’ll just say he has a loooong way to go to be called a legend.

      • BOB February 6, 2018

        Maybe a legend where he is now is a far stretch, but the hate and critic he gets right now? I find it so ridicolous and insane. But this is a guy who’s been around for over 20 years and still going this hard?!

  5. pat February 5, 2018

    well, ratings are the lowest they’ve been since 2010 so im happy

    • JOHNVIDAL February 5, 2018

      The real key is if he raised the ratings or not. Madonna and Gaga were the only ones to actually increase the ratings of the game when they took the stage. Bruno, Katy and beyonce´s were very successful in ratings but they didn´t increase what the game was already having. I will wait for that number.

      • Jasmine February 5, 2018

        That is true. Beyonce brought in excellent ratings both times she performed. Same goes for Bruno. Gaga was okay but Gaga is more like Madge’s student when it comes to ratings!

      • JOHNVIDAL February 5, 2018

        I clearly stated that Gaga and Madonna did better at ratings than Bruno and Beyonce. I don´t know if u understood.

      • Jasmine February 5, 2018

        @John Vidal I completely understood what you said and added sarcasm to it. Smile.

      • Jasmine February 5, 2018

        Actually Bruno outdid Madge’s ratings because when you sum up both of his performances the numbers are more tha Madge’s. Same goes for Beyonce.

      • Caleb February 7, 2018

        It will be so hilarious if ratings decreased for his performance. That’s unheard of in this century.

  6. Suicide Blonde February 5, 2018

    I’m disappointed, I told you guys that I expected this review to be the most hateful article in TGJ’s history, I’m really disappointed, especially with Sam, he’s the most bitter of them all, + the biggest Janet fan, or at least he says so, and this is all you have to say about JT’s halftime show?, I have no words, y’all make 12 years old rs look like professional draggers, disappointed.

    • BOB February 6, 2018

      Agree! Seriously.. to throw that much shade, wow.

  7. 2Bad2Bme February 5, 2018

    Why is everybody saying he disrespected Prince? Like how dumb can a person be. JT didn’t do a hologram, he paid respects another way. Also, how do ya’ll know if they never spoke over the phone and made up before Prince died? Just hating for no reason.

    • BOB February 5, 2018

      Exactly! Word!

    • Dev February 5, 2018

      This may be the case, but considering the backlash he was getting when people thought there was a hologram he would’ve been better off addressing the “beef” with Prince and he had to Janet and this may’ve save some negativity.

    • Jasmine February 5, 2018

      2Bad2Bme People certainly have a valid reason for believing JT disrespected Prince. You do not tribute somebody you publicly dissed and never apologized publicy for it! Prince deserved a public apology since JT publicly dissed him twice!

    • eric February 5, 2018

      Justin messed up with Janet and Prince too, but he wants people to think he has a good relationship with Janet and had a good one with Prince. I’m not buying it.

  8. Theman February 5, 2018

    He was great. Sam is acting like a little girl. You are reaching way too hard & over exaggerating. He meshed plenty of things in his performance together greatly. A lot of people are just hating.

    • Jasmine February 5, 2018

      Suicide you are so sad hiding behind multiple fake accounts. Loser trash.

  9. stan February 5, 2018

    ‘And I chose that word to not use another that starts with a “b” and ends with a “c”.’

    I’m gonna start saying this

  10. Kendrick Slaymar February 5, 2018

    Good, JT should be dragged and I’m seeing a number of negative reviews from national publications about his halftime performance. Before the Super Bowl, he also held an album release party at Paisley Park. JT may not have technically used a hologram last night, but it was still an affront to Prince’s legacy, in the opinion of many. Based on what he said about his creative control over his music, it is doubtful that Prince would have approved of this spectacle (Also, didn’t JT insult Prince when he was alive?). The thoughts he expressed years ago are below:
    “In a 1998 interview with Guitar World, Prince was asked if he’d ever be interested in jamming with an artist from the past thanks to advances in digital editing. Prince responded in disgust, calling it “the most demonic thing imaginable.”

  11. Dev February 5, 2018

    David, there are many artist’s nearing 40 that have no intention on slowing down and still give stage presence or vocals and Justin was going neither. When Justin exposed Janet tittay she was 37 and was slaying her preformance and all theses years later is still giving audiences moves and so was her brother until his death. Usher is still STD’ing, dancing and singing on the cusp of 40, and although i’m not a fan, Beyonce is on the steady clime to 40 and i can’t see being any different in 4 years time so i found that excuse poo.
    As for the album, it doesn’t give you mature, it gives you dated.. much like this whole performance.

    • Jasmine February 5, 2018

      I miss Michael Jackson. He was the greatest entertainer in history.

    • BOB February 6, 2018

      Wtf are you talking about?! Justin is doing that too. If you can’t see that, you can’t be into music or performance. Janet’s vocals compared to Justin’s? What? She’s whispering.

  12. Nate February 5, 2018

    It may not have been an actual hologram, but still used Prince’s image & voice which still is the concept of a hologram. Prince never wanted to share a stage w/ jt when he was alive, forcing Prince to do it in death is the disgusting part.

  13. Lynn9 February 14, 2018


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