The first week of February is often associated with many things, including but not limited to: the beginning of the worst month of the year, the occasional winter olympics and, of course, the Super Bowl. Though none of these explicitly involve music, there is a rather recent aspect of the latter which will go down in infamy forever: Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake’s “Wardrobe malfunction” at half-time of Super Bowl 38. Though I wish I had the time and/or ability to scribe a full-length reflective think piece on the subject, this Remember Whensday will just have to do.
The date was February 1, 2004 and the setting was Houston, Texas. Reliant Stadium, to be exact. Justin Timberlake, fresh off of NSync (is that how you even spell that?) fame and looking to set himself apart from other failed boy-band frontmen, was given the opportunity of a lifetime: to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show alongside artists like Janet Jackson, P.Diddy and Nelly. What happens next is history, and probably needs no explanation. Let’s just say it’s the entire reason “wardrobe malfunction” is in the modern lexicon.
Garnering names like “nipplegate,” and introducing the idea of a 3-second-tape-delay for all major live events, this star-studded “wardrobe malfunction” lives on in our collective memories. Even though it happened eleven years ago this week, the clothing mistake seen ‘round the world still has impact – especially on live music performance. I’d even go so far as to say you probably talked about it at your Super Bowl party this week.
Concert mishaps are fairly common (Just ask Ozzy Osbourne), but never before had such a blunder taken place before such a massive audience as Super Bowl XXVIII did. Its significance held a vice grip on tabloid covers and talk shows alike for an immense amount of time, and ultimately, increased speculation and excitement for the event for time to come. Today, the Super Bowl half time show is one of the single biggest music events of the year, and though it’s probably not due to Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake, they may have had an impact
Though it’s only been eleven years, one thing is clear: Thanks to Janet and Justin’s little screw-up, we don’t have to worry about the possibility of partial nudity during the Super Bowl’s halftime show as we did in 2004. Instead, we can revel at Katy Perry riding into the stadium on a massive tiger, or the levitating replica of the shooting star from The More You Know. So this week, while you’re lamenting the fact that Tom Brady won another championship, remember that this week in 2004, Super Bowl half time shows became the prevalent spectacle that they are today.