Ahead of Timberlake’s upcoming performance at Super Bowl LII on Sunday, the “Rhythm Nation” singer’s family members told the New York Post that if the Man of the Woodssinger really wanted to put the past behind him, he’d invite Jackson to share the stage with him.
“If he’s such a gentleman, he’d make sure Janet [Jackson] is there,” Janet’s father Joseph Jackson said.
“Justin’s solo career took off after that and Janet was blackballed,” added another unidentified family member. “He says they are good, but let’s see him prove it and bring her out.”
Fourteen years ago, Timberlake took the stage with Jackson to perform his hit “Rock Your Body.” Memorably, at the end of the sexy track’s closing lyrics — “I bet I’ll have you naked by the end of this song” — the singer went to remove Jackson’s corset and accidentally tore off her bra too, exposing her bare breast.
Controversy ensued, Timberlake and Jackson issued apologies, and the Federal Communications Commission charged CBS, the network that broadcast the game that year, with a $550,000 indecency fine for the incident, dubbed “Nipplegate.”
Opening up about the incident in January, Timberlake claimed that the pair had already made amends for the past.
“I stumbled through it, to be quite honest,” Timberlake, now 36, told Beats 1‘s Zane Lowe of moving past the drama. “I had my wires crossed and it’s just something that you have to look back on and go like, ‘Okay, well you know, you can’t change what’s happened but you can move forward and learn from it.’”
After the controversy, Timberlake said he “absolutely” took time with Jackson to make amends, adding: “I don’t know that a lot of people know that. I don’t think it’s my job to do that because you value the relationships that you do have with people.”
The “Filthy” singer also said that although the 2004 performance was “something we talked about” while planning his upcoming Super Bowl show, “To be honest, it wasn’t too much of a conversation.”
He added. “It’s just one of those things where you go, ‘Yeah what do you want me to say? We’re not going to do that again.’”
Timberlake also seemingly shut down rumors that Jackson would make a cameo during his Super Bowl halftime show when he told reporters at a press conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Thursday that he wouldn’t be sharing the stage with any special guests.
“To be honest, I had a ton of grand ideas about special guests. There’s a whole list. I think Vegas has a lot of odds on it, from ‘NSYNC to Jay [JAY-Z] to Chris Stapleton to Janet,” he said, before adding that he wanted to shine the spotlight on his trusty longtime band, the Tennessee Kids, instead. “I feel like they’re my special guests and I’m excited to rock the stage.”
This will be the third time Timberlake has performed at the famous championship game. In addition to the 2004 set, he and ‘NSYNC joined a star-studded lineup (including Aerosmith, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige and Nelly) to sing their classic hits “Bye Bye Bye” and “It’s Gonna Be Me.”
Super Bowl LII will be played Sunday, Feb. 4 at the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota and will air live on NBC.
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# Compiled by Chauncy Mopho Jere