Justin Timberlake? What we know, and don’t know, about music at the 2018 Super Bowl

Married couple Jessica Biel and Justin Timberlake share a moment on the red carpet at the 2017 Oscars. Will Timberlake get to play the world’s biggest gig in his wife’s native state? (VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images)

When you hear “Justin Timberlake” and “Super Bowl” in the same sentence you probably remember the embarrassing “wardrobe malfunction” with Janet Jackson back at the 2004 Super Bowl. The former NSYNC singer may be setting his sights on a return to the Super Bowl stage. Timberlake is “finalizing” his deal for the halftime show at U.S. Bank Stadium on Feb. 4, an insider told US Weekly.

Jackson fans continue to debate whether or not the “malfunction” was Timberlake’s fault, but the moment threw a roadblock in her career. A Timberlake Super Bowl halftime in Minneapolis would be particularly poignant, as Jackson is closely linked with the city. She first collaborated with Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis on her 1986 debut album, Control, which is now regarded as a landmark of 1980s music. Her next Minneapolis-made album, Rhythm Nation 1814, was a blockbuster that spawned four chart-topping hits. She has continued to work with Jam and Lewis through her most recent album, 2015’s Unbreakable.

JAY-Z had also been reportedly asked to perform at the Super Bowl. Could he and Timberlake double-team? They toured together in 2013. But no. JAY-Z has reportedly declined the offer and won’t be following in the footsteps of his wife Beyoncé (who headlined 2013’s halftime show, and returned last in 2016 to join Coldplay) anytime soon. Maybe JAY-Z holds a grudge against Minnesota because he’s beefing with Prince’s estate.

Britney Spears earlier this summer was also rumored to be performing at the halftime, show but that rumor was shot down by Pepsi executive Justin Toman. (Pepsi sponsors the halftime show.) “I can tell you it’s not Britney,” Toman told MAC Presents at a conference in July.

The other big musical moment at every Super Bowl is the singing of the National Anthem. Superstars also line up for that gig, which in recent years has gone to Luke Bryan, Lady Gaga (the year before she returned to headline halftime), and Idina Menzel. Some of us still have our fingers crossed that Lizzo can make an appearance somewhere in the midst of all of this, but there aren’t yet even any rumors surrounding any artists singing the National Anthem. However, whoever does agree to sing the National Anthem had better be up for some backlash, given the wave of protests that are sweeping professional sports right now.

Beyond the on-field musical performances, any Super Bowl is a major regional event with big events happening in the days and weeks surrounding the big game.

Every Super Bowl, Nomadic Entertainment plans high-profile shows in and near the host city. Those shows can involve names as big as the halftime entertainers — in recent years, Nomadic has booked artists including Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, and Pharrell Williams. In Minnesota next year, Nomadic will build a pop-up nightclub at Mystic Lake and will also host events at the newly-reopened Minneapolis Armory.

Whatever goes down, there’s no doubt that music history will be made in Minneapolis at Super Bowl 52. While you wait to see who’s playing, enjoy some “Winter Magic” with Minnesota’s last Super Bowl halftime show.

Erianna Jiles is a student at Saint Paul College.

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