WASHINGTON — The last time he played the Super Bowl halftime show, the term “wardrobe malfunction” dominated the reviews.

Now, Justin Timberlake is back on the biggest musical stage of the year, playing the halftime show that last year attracted 115.5 million American viewers. A musical generation after appearing alongside Janet Jackson, and for the third time in his career, Timberlake will headline this year’s show:

“The Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show is the most-watched musical event of the year,” the NFL stated in a press release. “Last year’s show was the most-watched musical event of all-time across all platforms and the most-watched Super Bowl Halftime performance in history through broadcast and digital channels, reaching more than 150 million unique people, garnering more than 80 million views and totaling 260 million minutes watched.”

Timberlake first performed at Super Bowl XXXVIII alongside Jessica Simpson, Janet Jackson, P. Diddy, Nelly, and Kid Rock. The performance went off without a hitch until the end, when Timberlake ripped a plate off of Jackson’s top, exposing her breast on national television.

The lights were cut on the performance and the cameras quickly switched away, but not before creating a national conversation that would last for weeks.

The moment prompted apologies and was played off as a mistake, a “wardrobe malfunction,” but was widely believed to be a publicity stunt gone awry.

In the aftermath, the NFL steered clear of pop musical acts until 2011, choosing classic rock legends instead. Timberlake joins other recent headliners Coldplay, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Bruno Mars.


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