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Justin Timberlake Defends His Prince Tribute at the Super Bowl

The "SexyBack" singer called the halftime moment "serendipitous."

After Justin Timberlake took the stage during the Super Bowl LII halftime show on Sunday, everyone seemed to have an opinion about the hits-filled medley that included tracks from Timberlake's impressive catalogue, and maybe even included a subtle nod to his still-controversial performance with Janet Jackson from 2004. Regardless of how much people sort of liked or weren't exactly dazzled by the performance (or, maybe landed somewhere in the middle), one thing people really had feelings about was when he paid homage to Minneapolis' most beloved son, Prince. (Though, as we've seen in the past, there tends to be controversy when it comes to paying homage to the Purple One.)

For the tribute, the stadium and city was aglow in purple light as Timberlake sat behind a piano and performed "I Would Die 4 U" while Prince's image was projected onto a screen, giving Timberlake the chance to perform with footage of the late musician.

"It's a moment for me, if I'm being quite honest, because he's always been the pinnacle of musicianship for me. And when we decided that, like, the serendipity and synergy that we would be in Minneapolis, and that, you know, he's such a special thing here, aside from what he is all over the world, um, I just felt I wanted to do something for this city and something for him that, uh, would just be the ultimate homage to what I consider the GOAT [Greatest of All Time] of musicians," Timberlake told BFF Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show following the big game. "And also, I'm not gonna lie to you guys because Questlove is the encyclopedia on music, but also, like, I feel like a gatekeeper on Prince, so if I got the thumbs up from Quest, I'm good."

Questlove called the tribute "dope" and Timberlake went on to explain why the performance was perfect for him.

"I mean, you have to understand: We got the actual real vocal stems from 'I Would Die 4 U.' The actual recording! And then we got uncut footage of him performance of it in Purple Rain. Somehow, some way, by the grace of — probably Prince looking down on us — it synced up. It was like this crazy serendipitous moment ... I just wanted to use the opportunity to do something special for this city, but most of all, for my favorite musician of all time," Timberlake said (yes, even as fans pointed out their past beef).

Check out JT's performance, below.

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