It’s hard to think of a bigger, more consistently successful star than Justin Timberlake. Since his charmed beginnings as the front man of 1990s boy band ‘N Sync, Timberlake has triumphed in all of his endeavors. His solo music career includes a long string of hits, from “Cry Me a River” to “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” His roles in movies like The Social Network and Friends With Benefits established him as an affable but sensitive actor seemingly custom-made for the early 2010s. His appearances on Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show turned his musical virtuosity toward a just-subversive-enough sort of comedy that went viral by default. These accomplishments earned him a reputation as the sort of entertainer who reigned in the Sinatra generation.

Yet it’s exactly this track record that makes Timberlake an uneasy fit for this moment. The Super Bowl LII halftime show, at which he is set to perform on Feb. 4 in Minneapolis, seems like just the right venue for an entertainer who has spent his career striving to deliver entertainment to the biggest possible audience. Timberlake thrives on the fuel of his own stardom, making the Super Bowl a perfect refuge. It is by definition the biggest stage in music, and it’s a booking that goes to only the most major of performers. This year the Grammys booked many passionately loved artists who are entirely unknown to baby boomers (Cardi B) and millennials (Emmylou Harris), showing us how atomized the music landscape is. The Super Bowl, meanwhile, shows us how knit-together it might be.

And yet it comes at a curious moment for Timberlake–one in which his recent singles from his forthcoming album Man of the Woods have debuted to mixed reviews. While even a career as seemingly bulletproof as Timberlake’s can suffer ups and downs, this moment feels a bit more existential: now that hits come from semi-anonymous younger artists with none of Timberlake’s careful image management, full-scale pop stardom doesn’t really matter anymore. So how does the defining male pop star of the decade thrive in 2018?

The halftime show isn’t solely a coronation for the artists who perform. It has also been, in recent years, a pivot point. In 2015, Katy Perry capped a run of No. 1 singles with a turn that placed her imaginative showmanship on the grandest scale possible. Last year, Lady Gaga cemented a comeback …read more

Source:: Time – Entertainment

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Justin Timberlake’s Comeback Hasn’t Quite Worked. The Super Bowl Could Change That

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