After reports that Justin Timberlake would honour Prince by performing with a hologram in the icon’s likeness at the Super Bowl LII – against wishes expressed by the late musician – the halftime show instead featured a more befitting homage.
Performing at the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis (Prince’s home town), Timberlake moved through a medley of his own tracks Filthy, Rock Your Body, Senorita, My Love and Cry Me A River, before sitting down at a white grand piano as an enormous, diaphanous white sheet ascended behind him. A projection of Prince appeared on its surface, performing I Would Die 4 U (which Timberlake accompanied).
When the Super Bowl LII organisers alluded to the possible Prince hologram, many online pointed to a quote from a 1998 interview Prince gave Guitar World, when he was specifically asked if he would like any such posthumous technological revival. “Certainly not – that’s the most demonic thing imaginable,” he replied. “Everything is as it is, and as it should be. If I was meant to jam with Duke Ellington, we would have lived in the same age. That whole virtual reality thing… it really is demonic. And I am not a demon.”
The sentiment was backed up by Prince’s longtime percussionist and drummer Sheila E., who tweeted: “Prince told me don’t ever let anyone do a hologram of me. Not cool if this happens!” on the morning of February 4. She apparently spoke to Timberlake at some point in the following hours, tweeting in the afternoon: “Family, I spoke w/Justin 2nite and he shared heartfelt words of respect for Prince & the Purple fans. I look 4wrd 2 seeing what I’m sure is going 2 be a spectacular halftime show. There is no hologram.”
Watch Timberlake’s full performance below.