Justin Timberlake Halftime Performance: Singer Pays Tribute to Prince at Super Bowl Show

Entertainment - Inside Edition Staff

Justin Timberlake paid tribute to Prince during his halftime performance at the Super Bowl Sunday night.

Timberlake sang "I Would Die 4 U" beneath video of the late "Purple Rain" singer performing the song. The footage was projected onto a billowing screen at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minn., which was drenched in purple light.

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Ahead of the performance, there had been reports that Prince — who lived just outside Minneapolis until his death in April 2016 — would make an appearance in the form of a hologram.

But his close friend Sheila E. spoke to Timberlake's team and assured fans it wouldn't be happening.

“Prince had told me... don’t let anybody do a hologram of him for religious reasons,” she said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Timberlake began his 13-minute performance Sunday night with some of his classic tunes. Flanked by dancers and beneath strobe lights, he performed songs including "Rock Your Body," "SexyBack" and "Cry Me a River." He was joined on stage by his band, the Tennessee Kids.

The energetic performance gave way to a more mellow moment, when Timberlake sat at a piano for his tribute to Prince.

He finished off the huge performance with "Can't Stop the Feeling" and headed to the stands to dance with spectators — even making time to stop for a selfie with a young fan, who was later identified as 13-year-old Ryan McKenna.

Ryan, a Patriots fan from Hingham, Mass., spoke to the Pioneer Press after he quickly went viral.

“I just thought to myself, ‘I’ll never get this opportunity again in my whole life,'” he said. “I just went for it.”

Timberlake also shared snaps from the show.

At halftime, the score stood at 22-12 with the Philadelphia Eagles in the lead over the New England Patriots. The Eagles maintained the lead, winning the game 41-33.

Ahead of Timberlake's performance, the burning question on everyone’s mind was whether there would be appearances by his former *NSYNC bandmates — or Janet Jackson.

Timberlake and Jackson famously appeared together on the Super Bowl stage in 2004 when Timberlake ripped a piece of Jackson's clothing, revealing her nipple as 140 million people watched. They later called it a "wardrobe malfunction."

This year, both performers shut down rumors of a reunion.

"To put to rest any speculation or rumors as to whether I will be performing at the Super Bowl tomorrow; I will not," Jackson said in a statement Saturday. "Thank you for your support and I do look forward to seeing you all very soon." 

Timberlake, who released his new album, Man of the Woods, on Friday, celebrated his 37th birthday Wednesday. He said he spent the day doing rehearsals for his big performance.

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