This weekend saw Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake take over London with three performances at the Wireless Festival. On Friday night Justin performed live, followed by Jay-Z closing the Saturday night of the festival. Sunday night, though, was the moment of real excitement and anticipation: the first ever performance of the pair’s Legends Of The Summer joint show. The duo played a greatest hits set with over 40 tracks appearing on the epic setlist, the show taking over two hours. But who was better? Justin Timberlake or Jay-Z? We pit the titans head to head.
It has been commented by people on Twitter far meaner (and funnier) than me that Justin Timberlake dresses like a child at a wedding. While his trilby hat remained firmly on his head for the duration of the weekend, it’s hard to deny that Timberlake also looked pretty slick. However, Jay-Z rocked up on Saturday night wearing a chain that looked like it cost more than the GDP of some small countries. It’s a close one but Jay-Z’s understated class and overstated wealth wins out here. Winner: Jay-Z
Pound for pound, these two are pretty evenly matched. For every ‘Cry Me A River’ there’s ’99 Problems’. When Justin does ‘Like I Love You’, Jay-Z is able to call on ‘Empire State Of Mind’. It’s hard to separate both artists’ biggest songs but watching both his headline set and the Legends Of The Summer show, you can’t help feel that Jay-Z just has the edge due to the pure number of hits in his arsenal. The benefits of a career spanning more than two decades. Winner: Jay-Z
“Have y’all been on iTunes today” asks Timberlake on the Friday night, forgetting that the Olympic Park is essentially a car park where 3G is about as fictional as a unicorn listening to the Azealia Banks album. This means the audience have not heard JT’s new song ‘Take Back The Night’ until he performs it live for the first time. The song, like a lot of Timberlake’s new material, feels wafty and aimless. ‘Mirrors’ is outstanding but this is the exception, not the rule. Meanwhile, Jay-Z’s ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’ seems full of potential hits with ‘Tom Ford’, ‘Somewhere In America’ and ‘Holy Grail’ greeted like old classics. Winner: Jay-Z
Justin appears to be desperately seeking credibility at this stage of his career, preferring to play his guitar than bust out any huge routines. However, when he does move, the boyband roots come through and he shows he can really move. On the other side, Jay-Z is never going to be caught spinning on his head, preferring the odd arm pump to anything more energetic. Winner: Justin Timberlake
Jay-Z likes to keep his talk to a minimum, thanking fans for making his new album number one in the UK and a timely dedication to Trayvon Martin. On the other hand, Justin Timberlake has all the lines and even references “birds and blokes” during Senorita, a classy nod to his London surroundings. Winner: Justin Timberlake.
Not to say that Justin Timberlake has no friends (his wife Jessica Biel watches from side of stage for his headline show) but nobody makes it out onto the stage. Not even Joey Fatone, no matter how hard I wish. Jay-Z, meanwhile, is able to call up Rihanna fresh from her T In The Park performance and have her come on stage for ‘Run This Town’. It’s a stand out moment in a set of big moments and one that only Jay-Z could have delivered. Winner: Jay-Z.
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Jay-Z – 4
Justin Timberlake – 2