Written by By Staff Writer
It’s been almost 25 years since Justin Timberlake first shook a slight trace of scandal from his pretty boy routine with “Friends With Benefits,” in 2010. At 27 years old, with an unmatched vocal talent and a towering musical success, he was poised to be one of the biggest stars in the music industry for some time.
But the scrutiny from critics and the sexualization of women in the music industry at the time — specifically Janet Jackson — caused Timberlake to quickly back away from making album after album. His sophomore album in 2002, FutureSex/LoveSounds, garnered only moderate success, and by the time 2004 rolled around, it seemed like the nation hadn’t forgotten the infamous wardrobe malfunction involving JT and his first wife, Britney Spears, at the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show.
Timberlake’s fourth studio album, FutureSex/LoveSounds, was to be the album that started off Timberlake as the undisputed modern “it boy” of the music industry. But with an R-rated couplet in the midst of “Rock Your Body,” the selling point was no longer his unparalleled vocal ability, but rather his tendency to flaunt his female companions on album covers and in promotions. He’ll probably have the nagging second thought, like we all do, that it was all a big mistake.
Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake perform at the Super Bowl Halftime Show on February 3, 2004.
A fascinating story of revitalization: Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson’s careers reborn — and where they stand now.
In 2004, little did we know that JT’s career would be rebooted almost completely based on what happened in Atlanta, and back in Hollywood, where all of it began. At the age of 32, Janet Jackson was going to prove that age is nothing but a number. She was going to amass ten Grammys (her only up for-now loss), nine No. 1 singles and a movie called “Austin Powers in Goldmember.” But alas, the Janet Jackson scandal interrupted her career from tee-hee to tee-hee (leaving us to feel salty even now about the unfortunate moment). After a slimy Grammys performance with Missy Elliott, Jackson had nothing to lose from a wardrobe malfunction. And out she came, letting her iconic cat eyes do what they do best — stealing the show.
The ‘wardrobe malfunction’ made the rest of her career highly challenged. Most of her big in-the-scene hits — like “Rhythm Nation” and “What Have You Done for Me Lately” — were overshadowed by the jolt of guilty pleasure that was her wardrobe malfunction, and two lawsuits soon followed. As rock bottom was reached, Jackson took her career in new and unexpected directions — beginning a non-stop six-year reunion tour that brought her and Timberlake back together on-stage, and reminding fans about her musical talent.
Without Michael Jackson, the shock and awe of Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction makes for riveting viewing.