Justin Timberlake’s Super Bowl Performance Might Feature a Prince Hologram
In what’s sure to be a move that causes controversy, a Prince hologram will reportedly “perform” live with Justin Timberlake during Sunday’s Super Bowl halftime show at U.S. Bank Stadium.
That’s according to a report from TMZ, which quoted a source saying Timberlake did four run-throughs of his performance Thursday, one of which was recorded as a backup in case of an emergency Sunday. The site also confirmed, as Timberlake claimed in a press conference Thursday, that there would be no ‘N Sync reunion nor a surprise appearance from Janet Jackson, Timberlake’s wardrobe malfunctioning musical partner at the 2004 halftime show. (In her own statement released Saturday, Jackson also confirmed she was not performing with Timberlake.)
While the browser-crashing TMZ is a gossip site, it does often break news and was the first outlet to report Prince’s unexpected death in April 2016. And Prince’s sister Tyka Nelson floated the idea of a Prince hologram in an August interview with a British newspaper.
That said, Prince’s half-brother Omarr Baker denied it would happen on Twitter, posting a red circle with a red diagonal line running through it followed by #PrinceHologram. When asked by a fan “Does this mean you didn’t authorize it or that it’s not happening?” Baker responded with “Both.”
Prince headlined the halftime show in 2007, and his fiery performance in the rain is considered one of the Super Bowl’s finest musical moments.
If true, the appearance of a Prince hologram – performing with Timberlake, no less – is certain to upset many of the Purple One’s most devoted fans. His longtime friend and collaborator Sheila E., who is in town for the Super Bowl, has already expressed her displeasure on Twitter: “Prince told me don’t ever let anyone do a hologram of me. Not cool if this happens!”
As it turns out, Prince himself dismissed the idea in a 1998 interview with Guitar World. When asked if he would consider using digital technology for a beyond-the-grave collaboration, he said “That’s the most demonic thing imaginable. Everything is as it is, and 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.”
During Thursday’s press conference, Timberlake called Prince “the greatest all-around musician I can think of in popular culture (and) a huge influence on me. It seems like maybe braggadocios to say, but I’m going to say it anyway: The time I got to spend around him, with him, talking about music, those are memories that I will take with me forever. He’s always been such a big idol of mine.”
Timberlake booked Prince’s Paisley Park studio-turned-museum that night for a “Man of the Woods” listening party. He also told reporters “we’re doing a few things with this halftime show they’ve never quite done before.”
Last month, Prince’s estate announced an April 21 concert at Minneapolis’ Target Center that will feature “newly remastered and never-before-released audio and video of Prince accompanied live on the Target Center stage by a supergroup of musicians who performed alongside Prince throughout his legendary career.”
Perhaps that night will now also include a virtual Prince.