Brow Beat

Justin Timberlake Reprises His Famous Super Bowl Performance of “Rock Your Body” Without Acknowledging in Any Way Why It Was Famous

Justin Timberlake performs at Super Bowl LII.
Justin Timberlake performs at Super Bowl LII.
Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

It’s always interesting to see a great artist revisit a song he or she made famous years ago. How will an older and wiser musician acknowledge the differences between the person they are today and the person they were when they were young and struggling? What changes will be made to the music or lyrics to make an old tune reflect the present moment? Most of all, will the singer acknowledge in any way, shape, or form that at the last Super Bowl performance of the song, an ill-conceived stunt or unfortunate wardrobe malfunction derailed Janet Jackson’s career, got the entire broadcast industry running scared, set the tone for George W. Bush’s disastrously successful reelection campaign, and convinced NASCAR to heavily fine drivers for swearing, while the person who sang the song to begin with continued on his or her merry way more or less unscathed? Sooner or later, every great musician has to answer that last question, and in the case of Justin Timberlake and “Rock Your Body,” that’s gonna be a nope. See if you can spot the differences between this classic performance from 2004:

And this one from 2018:

You’re exactly right: Super Bowl XXXVIII was broadcast in standard definition on CBS, while Super Bowl LII was broadcast in high definition on NBC. Also, in 2018, Timberlake skipped the line “Bet I’ll have you naked at the end of this song.” Also, come on, Justin Timberlake, you can’t play that song at the Super Bowl anymore!

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Matthew Dessem

Matthew Dessem is Brow Beat’s nights and weekends editor and the author of a biography of screenwriter and director Clyde Bruckman.