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Justin Timberlake is excited about his gig headlining the Super Bowl LII Pepsi Halftime show, but he’s also aware that having the biggest TV platform of the year is a responsibility. The singer sat down at halftime to discuss the gig on Sunday Night Football, telling Football Night in America host Mike Tirico that he’s super excited, but planning to make a statement while playing the hits.
“What I really want to do is take the opportunity to put together a performance that feels like it unifies,” he told Tirico. “I feel like that would be the ultimate accomplishment, and then the icing on the cake is at some point, within that 12 minutes, that everybody is shaking their booty.”
Timberlake also addressed the elephant in the room: his controversial 2004 halftime performance, during which he briefly exposed Janet Jackson’s breast via the “wardrobe malfunction” heard ’round the world. Asked how he reacted to the request to return to the halftime stage more than a decade after that incident, Timberlake said: “Immediately I was excited. It’s a huge moment so I was very excited.”
When Tirico asked if the NFL ever brought up the Jackson imbroglio during negotiations and asked for assurance there would be no repeat, Timberlake was clear: “That won’t happen this time. There was a little bit of that. But… no, Mike, that’s not going to happen.”
As a football fan, Timberlake has, of course, gone to the tape to see what other halftime performers have done to prepare. “I’ve already watched a ton of them just to make sure that were not pulling out any gags you know — people are flying, and Lady Gaga jumped from the top of the stadium or something,” he said of last year’s memorable addition to the halftime canon. “I don’t know, man. I’m 36 now. I don’t know how much of that I can do anymore.”
Looking back on his two halftime performances — J.T. also played with *NSYNC in 2001 — and watching Beyoncé, Bruno Mars and Coldplay, as well as Michael Jackson and Bruce Springsteen’s memorable turns, Timberlake said his sights are set on doing something moving, like U2’s 2002 tribute to victims of the 9/11 terror attacks. “I think that U2 performance, based on what was happening in the world at the time, the hair on the back of my neck stands up just thinking about it.”
— SNF on NBC (@SNFonNBC) October 23, 2017
Who is the one person Timberlake had to share the news with? Bestie Jimmy Fallon, of course. “Excuse me sir, do you have the time?” J.T. asks Fallon in an exaggerated English accent in an announcement skit that went up Sunday night, putting an end to weeks of speculation that Timberlake could be headlining at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Feb. 4. “I was going to ask you sir if you have the time,” Fallon replies in an even goofier accent. “I do have time.”
“You do half time?” Fallon said. “I do half time!” And so on, back and forth. Watch the two freak out together.
— Justin Timberlake (@jtimberlake) October 23, 2017
A version of this story first appeared on Billboard.com.
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