Super Bowl: Justin Timberlake Draws Criticism for Prince Tribute

"It's kind of rude to use his image," one user tweeted, while another called the tribute "in bad taste."

Justin Timberlake's tribute to the late Minneapolis native Prince, rumored on Saturday, didn't go over so well on social media when it finally played out on Sunday night during halftime of Super Bowl LII.

Many Twitter users mocked the tribute, which included a performance of Prince's "I Will Die 4 U" and a projection of the artist, who died in April 2016, behind Timberlake as he performed. During the halftime show, the singer-songwriter ran through some of his biggest hits, including "Rock Your Body," "SexyBack" and "Suit & Tie," as well as a single from his new album Man of the Woods.

Some noted that the late artist himself would not have appreciated the tribute: "Prince didn't like Justin Timberlake.. it's kind of rude to use his image for this performance," Affinity Magazine tweeted, while user Adam Best wrote, "Prince specifically said he didn't want that, right?"

Singer Demi Lovato was disappointed that Timberlake's iconic 1990s band didn't get a shout-out. "But ... 'N Sync," she tweeted, with many tear-faced emojis.

Others were more positive, including FCC chairman Ajit Pai. "Whew! Thank you, @jtimberlake," he wrote, referring to Timberlake's last appearance on the Super Bowl stage, in 2004, during which he exposed Janet Jackson's breast during a performance of "Rock Your Body." The FCC fined CBS $550,000 for the gaffe.

After the show, Timberlake explained the Prince tribute while appearing on NBC's The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon. He didn't directly address the criticism, but did explain why he wanted to incorporate it into his performance.

"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. "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."

He also noted that Questlove, who is Fallon's bandleader, approved of the performance.

See some of the Twitter reactions below.

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