- Justin Timberlake explained his controversial decision to perform with a projection of Prince at the Super Bowl halftime show, during a live broadcast of “The Tonight Show” on Sunday.
- Prince fans reacted negatively to the tribute because the late artist once described similar digital editing as “the most demonic thing imaginable.”
Justin Timberlake appeared on a live broadcast of “The Tonight Show,” after his Super Bowl halftime show performance Sunday night, and explained his controversial decision to perform a Prince tribute at the show.
Timberlake drew criticism for playing Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U” with a projection of the late artist on a towering sheet behind him. Though the tribute wasn’t exactly the same as a reported plan for a “Prince hologram,” it didn’t sit well with Prince fans.
Displeased fans cited a 1998 interview Prince gave with Guitar World, in which Prince explicitly opposed using digital editing to bring a deceased artist into a performance, calling it “the most demonic thing imaginable.”
In an interview with Jimmy Fallon following the performance, Timberlake explained his Prince tribute by saying that the late artist was “the pinnacle of musicianship,” and that doing the tribute in Prince’s hometown of Minneapolis was “a moment” for him.
“When we decided that the serendipity and synergy that we would be in Minneapolis and that, you know, 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 be the ultimate homage to what I consider the G.O.A.T. [Greatest of All Time] of musicians,” Timberlake said.
Timberlake then turned to Questlove, the leader of The Roots and the “Tonight Show” band, calling the drummer “a gatekeeper on Prince” and seeking a “thumbs up” for the performance. Questlove responded, simply, “It was dope.”
Timberlake went on to describe the process of putting the tribute together: “We got the actual vocal stems from ‘I Would Die 4 U,’ the actual recordings, and then we got uncut footage from his performance of it in ‘Purple Rain.’ Somehow, some way, by the grace of probably Prince looking down on us, it synced up. It was like this crazy serendipitous moment. I just wanted to use that opportunity to do something special for this city, but most of all, for my favorite musician of all time.”
Watch the interview below: