Justin Timberlake Kills SNL Again, But Should He Have Played 'Mirrors'?

Justin Timberlake Kills SNL Again, But Should He Have Played 'Mirrors'?

JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE WORE GIANT CARTOON HANDS AND SANG A NELLY SONG DRESSED AS A ROLL OF WRAPPING PAPER AND BARRY GIBB WAS THERE (REALLY) AND PAUL McCARTNEY PLAYED A TINY HARMONICA AND MADONNA SHOWED UP FOR NO REASON AND I JUST HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS. THAT IS ALL. I mean, it's not, really. Last night's Saturday Night Live was spectacular, from the goofy (and seasonally appropriate!) cold open down to the return of Jimmy Fallon and from Timberlake's exceptional Bee Gees tribute to Timberlake's solitary game of laser tag. The writers delivered riotous sketches, the cast was fantastic, Kate McKinnon not being the most famous comedienne in the country remains a mystery, and the Fallon/Timberlake repartee made for some of the most hilarious moments the show has seen in recent years. (Timberlake as Fallon in particular was pretty silly.) When the cast has a blast, it shows, and the Christmas episode of SNL goes down as one of the best executed and superlatively performed of the season without a doubt.

And then we got to Timberlake.

The last performer we saw break the mold from a visual standpoint on SNL was Kanye, whose jarring, dark performance for the world premiere of "Black Skinhead" remains one of the more notable music moments of 2013. Justin attempted a similar feat with "Only When I Walk Away" as he dodged between the kind of lasers that made your school photo background look wicked cool when you were in second grade. He sounded good, the guitar lines ripped in the back and the overall effect was one we're not used to seeing from pop's squeaky clean reigning prince, as we were too busy trying to pay attention to the music (and the words he was actually singing) as opposed to that molten stare and arsenal of flashy dance moves.

"Pair of Wings" was a stripped-down split from the super produced and tech-savvy song prior, with Timberlake resorting to his trademark crooning and the accompaniment of little more than some strings and an acoustic guitar. Contrast is key when you've got two songs to sing on the SNL stage -- see: Miley -- and as Timberlake has got the chops, his closing pick went off without a hitch. (Except for that girl who kept screaming "JUSTIIIIIIIIN!" like she was Paul Rudd in line at a One Direction concert. Honey, we know you're excited, but indoor voices. You're on a soundstage.)


That said, Timberlake showed up for work and gets gold stars for his performances, down to the very last scale and tortured facial expression, but not for the song choices. It's the end of a year dominated by "Mirrors," and yes, the dude already played it when he hosted SNL back in March, but one-upping it -- or taking advantage of the company of the zillions of musical icons who joined him for the episode -- would've trounced his previous efforts which were iconic on their own. Madonna was posting "buttstagrams" of The Barry Gibb Show, for chrissakes. You're really telling me that had some over-the-top planning gone into it, she wouldn't have hopped onstage for a duet? Or at least a line in one? Instead of taking the opportunity to eclipse expectations, Timberlake rested on the laurels he's made for himself on the SNL stage, and in a weird way, it was disappointing to see him do so despite how awesome he was. It's fun to be blown away, sure. It's amazing when you're blown away because the performance you just saw was better than you could've possibly dreamed of, and that's the kind of standard Timberlake has not only chased in the past but defined. And it's something he definitely didn't do this time around on SNL.

So! The world fawned over Timberlake (and by proxy Fallon), and for good reason, but maybe they were settling for perfect when what they could've been watching was revolutionary. Either way, people got really excited about the return of the Timberlake/Fallon pairing and took to their Twitterfeeds like nobody's business.


Shhhhh don't say that now Justin Timberlake is gonna start starring in action movieeees


*wide-eyed and blushing emoji*


I will consider the fact that he and Fallon did not do this the episode's sole failure.

A rare dousing of Timberlake haterade:

And for that, we are all sorry.

This doesn't have anything to do with Justin Timberlake's musical performances, I just want to draw attention to the fact that Denny's tweeted about Kim Kardashian.

And Madonna.



Ehhh debatable.

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