Even though the game had been a thrilling nail-biter, the most suspenseful thing inside U.S. Bank Stadium as Justin Timberlake's Super Bowl halftime show neared may have been the question: Will he or won't he?
The pop star who helped make the words "wardrobe malfunction" permanent halftime jargon avoided another controversy this time around by not using a Prince hologram, a much-derided gimmick that reportedly had been enlisted in rehearsals.
Instead, Timberlake paid tribute to the Minneapolis rock legend in his hometown by projecting video of him from the movie "Purple Rain" onto a large sheet draped from the ceiling as a snippet of Prince's "I Would Die 4 U" played.
"Two fingers in the air for Prince tonight," he told the crowd, which had been given small LED lights at every seat that turned a purple tint to match the Minnesota Vikings' home field. Through TV trickery, viewers around the world concurrently saw the skyline outside the stadium light up purple with Prince's symbol.
Timberlake applied plenty of visual gimmicks to his own rapid-fire array of hits offered in the 13-minute show. He took the field on a long, neon-lit runway to the tune of his Michael Jackson-esque 2002 hit "Rock Your Body," and from there bounced from one large, multitiered stage to two smaller platforms while singing his other hits, including "SexyBack."
Dressed in black suits, the University of Minnesota marching band joined him midfield during the funky jam "Suit & Tie." Then hundreds of extras -- led by dance-team members from various Minnesota high schools who rehearsed with Timberlake all week -- took the field in a rainbow array of outfits with giant mirrors in hand as he launched into "Mirrors."
Before the show, crews set up the stages on the field with impressive haste while the video screens showed snippets of Prince's own 2007 Super Bowl appearance in a Miami rainstorm. Then a video with Timberlake pal and "Tonight Show" host Jimmy Fallon served as an introduction.
The halftime show was a hot topic for fans headed into the stadium, after insider sources confirmed that a Prince hologram was used during Timberlake's rehearsals Friday. He may have benched the idea after backlash on Saturday, or it's possible that people who saw the video montage with "I Would Die 4 U" may have mistaken it for a hologram.
Kira Lillehei, a Vikings season ticket-holder at the game in all-purple regalia, wasn't against the idea of a virtual Prince performance.