A strained "Star-Spangled Banner," a decaf flat white of a halftime show, an understated show of solidarity and, of course, the advertisements: If nothing else, Super Bowl LII's musical moments were legion. Here are the ones that caught NPR Music's ears over the course of the night.
Pink's performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" will not go down in history as one of the best; she was ill. Proving once again that no moment of televised monoculture goes unnoticed by the digital hordes, the singer removing something from her mouth just before singing the American anthem was the subject of much discussion on Twitter, which she explained in a succinct tweet shortly after. — Andrew Flanagan
Justin Timberlake's halftime show
Justin Timberlake tried to create a wrinkle in time during last night's Super Bowl halftime show: Early on in the inevitable medley that structured his busy, centerless take on the hallowed spectacle, he audaciously reprised his 2002 hit "Rock Your Body," the soundtrack to the most notorious incident in the history of this savage American secular holiday. That was, of course, his fumbling removal of Janet Jackson's breastplate. It was a violation that, as even the most casual followers of pop culture know, cost her far more than it did him. Last night, as he came to the line that accompanied all that trouble back in 2004 — "Bet I'll have you naked by the end of this song" — Timberlake shouted "STOP!" and, with a raised eyebrow and a little leer, redirected the action. (Or mimed redirection: As an interview with halftime show sound engineer Patrick Baltzell recently affirmed, no band but The Rolling Stones has played live at this event.) Instead of using the brief transition to shout something conciliatory ("Respect to Janet!" would have worked), Timberlake bet on silence. It was an emblematic move for a star whose entire career has been grounded in turning challenge and conflict into Teflon cool, a singer whose songs of heartbreak are icy smooth, and whose confessions float by on clouds of multi-tracked effects.