Prince's Appearance in Justin Timberlake's 2018 Super Bowl Halftime Show Sparks Backlash

Late icon appeared in video footage projected onto a surface during the mid-game performance

By Samantha Schnurr Feb 05, 2018 2:38 AMTags
Justin Timberlake, halftime show, Super Bowl LII, PrinceTony Gutierrez/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Prince fans can't stop the feeling that something wasn't right during Justin Timberlake's 2018 Super Bowl halftime show. 

For the Grammy winner's highly anticipated performance in Minnesota this year, the star elected to feature video of the late icon projected onto a giant white curtain behind him as Timberlake sat at a white piano and performed "I Would Die 4 U" along with the star's vocals. 

Prior to the performance, reports circulated claiming this year's halftime performer was planning to use a hologram of the musician and Minneapolis native, inciting a mix of responses, including rejection from Prince's former collaborator Sheila E

"Prince told me don't ever let anyone do a hologram of me. Not cool if this happens!" she tweeted on Saturday ahead of the show. However, she later clarified, tweeting, "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."

While Prince did not ultimately take shape as a hologram, he did appear in the performance through the video footage, causing many of his devoted fans to express their discontent online and point to Prince's previous comments on the subject. 

Super Bowl 2018: Star Sightings

"I wish #Prince had written a will. All of this could've been avoided," one fan tweeted. "Honoring Prince is a good thing. Disrespecting his wishes and using his image anyway is damned disrespectful," another fan chimed in. 

In 1998, Prince addressed the possibility of a technological performance during an interview with Guitar World. "With digital editing, it is now possible to create a situation where you could jam with any artist from the past. Would you ever consider doing something like that?" he was asked. 

"Certainly not," Prince replied at the time. "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. And I am not a demon. Also, what they did with that Beatles song ["Free As a Bird"], manipulating John Lennon's voice to have him singing from across the grave... that'll never happen to me. To prevent that kind of thing from happening is another reason why I want artistic control."

However, there were some fans who were happy with the end result. As one Twitter user defended, He honored a legend, made the fans apart of it, and looked like he really enjoyed it. #JustinTimberlake you did a fantastic job haters gonna hate. #prince."

E! News has reached out to Timberlake's camp for comment.