It's been over a decade since this century's most thrilling and confusing pop-cultural moment, when a split second of broadcast time and a wardrobe malfunction meant a collective loss of innocence not seen since Genesis. Now, 13 years later, Justin Timberlake will return this February to headline primetime's grandest spectacle: Super Bowl LII at Minneapolis' US Bank Stadium.
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This will mark Timberlake's third Super Bowl performance and make him the performer who has appeared most at the halftime show. The first was back in 2001 with 'N SYNC, his wildly popular boy band, known for songs like "Bye Bye Bye" and "It's Gonna Be Me." Timberlake then eclipsed his boy-bandmates with a wildly successful solo career and a return to the Super Bowl in 2004. He went on to "bring sexy back" (for which he will surely one day receive a Nobel Prize) and transitioned into a successful acting career.
If you're too young to remember the split second that former FCC chairman Michael Powell once called "a new low for primetime TV," here's a brief rundown: Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake were sharing the stage for Timberlake's closer, "Rock Your Body." Jackson wore a black leather ensemble with a red lace bra underneath; Timberlake wore the height of early 2000s male fashion and questionable facial hair. As Timberlake sang, "bet I'll have you naked by the end of this song," he attempted to remove only the leather part of her costume, but pulled Jackson's bra away with it, bearing what the Washington Post recently called "a bejeweled nipple."
This broke the AOL (you bought the internet from them on CDs... it was a strange time). Lawsuits were filed. Janet Jackson was virtually blacklisted (hard to say why?). In 2006, the Guinness Book of World Records named Nipplegate the "most searched item in Internet history." That fraction of a second is probably the most scrutinized footage since the moon-landing.
In an interview during halftime on NBC's "Sunday Night Football," Timberlake assured Mike Tirico, "That won't happen this time… No, Mike, that's not going to happen." Since Janet Jackson (who, again, inexplicably bore all the blame for this) will not be returning this year, we can probably take his word for it.
There's no word yet on who the other performers will be though. Since recent years have featured pop heroes like Lady Gaga, Coldplay, Beyoncé, and Bruno Mars, you can bet that a whole roster of A-listers will be announced soon.
Fingers crossed for an encore from Katy Perry's dancing sharks.