Timberlake performed this year’s Super Bowl halftime show, which took place during the Philadelphia Eagles’ unlikely triumph against the New England Patriots on Sunday night (February 4).
Taking place in Prince’s hometown of Minneapolis, Timberlake’s performance sparked controversy after it was originally reported that he’d be including a hologram of Prince. These plans were later scrapped following discussions with Prince collaborator Sheila E.
But Prince did appear in some form. Towards the end of Timberlake’s big appearance, he worked his way to a B-stage and sat down at a piano. There, he began covering ‘I Would Die 4 U’, and footage of the Purple One was projected behind him.
Many Prince fans argued that he would have been angered by the tribute, but his sister Tyka Nelson has told TMZ that she was surprised by the tribute and enjoyed the performance.
She also said that while fans may have their own opinions of what Prince might have felt, her brother wasn’t one to hold grudges.
Prince and Timberlake famously clashed over the song ‘SexyBack’, when Timberlake mocked Prince during the 2007 Golden Globes. Of Prince’s spat with Timberlake, Nelson said: “He said what he said and kept it moving.”
Writing of Timberlake’s Prince tribute, NME‘s Rhian Daly argues that it “felt underwhelming and opportunistic”.
Prince passed away in April 2016 at the age of 57.