Justin Timberlake just addressed the Britney Spears backlash for the first time – that too on stage during his Wednesday performance at the Fontainebleau in Las Vegas.
After laying low for a few weeks to ride out the controversy, the NSYNC frontman exercised caution by prefacing his performance of his now-controversial song Cry Me a River with a cheeky disclaimer.
“No disrespect,” Timberlake said, eliciting a laugh from some audience members.
Before launching into the song, Timberlake set the stage with a prelude with what seemed like another nod to the recent backlash he’s been receiving from fans and the industry alike.
He crooned the iconic lyrics from his Holy Grail collaboration with Jay-Z: “And we all just/ entertainers/ and we’re stupid/ and contagious,” before finally singing the contentious track.
When the boyband heartthrob first released the 2002 song about heartbreak, it garnered acclaim, securing Grammys and reaching number three on the US Billboard Hot 100 and Pop Songs charts.
The song was released just after Timberlake and Spears – only teenagers at the time – ended their near-three-year relationship. The music video even featured a model bearing a striking resemblance to Spears, portraying the heartless woman in the narrative.
Timberlake himself has previously admitted that the song was inspired by their highly-publicised breakup.
Fast forward two decades, and Spears unveiled her true sentiments about the hit song, expressing in her recent memoir, The Woman in Me, that the music video cast her as a “harlot” in the public eye.
Amongst other shocking revelations about their former relationship in her memoir, the Princess of Pop reflected on how though there was mutual cheating involved, only she took the fall for it and was painted as the villain “who’d broken the heart of America’s golden boy.”
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