"You can't change what's happened," Timberlake said of the 2004 incident, dubbed "Nipplegate"

By Jeff Nelson
January 17, 2018 04:15 PM
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As Justin Timberlake prepares for his Feb. 4 Super Bowl performance, he’s opening up about the infamous wardrobe malfunction during his 2004 set with Janet Jackson.

Fourteen years ago, the singer 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” — Timberlake 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.”

Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake at the 2004 Super Bowl
| Credit: Frank Micelotta/Getty

“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 says 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 — who will release his fourth solo album, Man of the Woods, Feb. 2 before a world tour — returns to the Pepsi Halftime show stage again next month at Super Bowl LII, and the 2004 debacle was “something we talked about,” Timberlake said.

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“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.'”

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.