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!