Is Justin Timberlake's long-ago breakup with ex-girlfriend Britney Spears still on his brain? Some at the "Suit & Tie" singer's DirecTV Super Bowl-eve concert thought so -- thanks to an offhand comment he reportedly made about a former relationship with "some bitch."
On Saturday, Feb. 2, Timberlake, 32, took the stage in New Orleans for his first live show in five years. Backed by a 13-piece band and four back-up singers, he rocked the house for nearly two hours with a mix of new tracks from his upcoming album, The 20/20 Experience, and fan favorites from his previous records, Justified and FutureSex/LoveSounds. Among the older hits on his setlist? "Cry Me a River," the ultimate kiss-off anthem, which he wrote after his epic 2002 breakup with the "Hold It Against Me" starlet, 31.
"Sometimes in life, you think you found the one," Timberlake reportedly told the crowd before launching into the song. "But then one day you find out that she is just some bitch."
After the concert, the newly married musician apparently felt compelled to set the record straight. "OK. I see you. Wouldn't disrespect ANYONE personally. Ever," he tweeted on Feb. 3, alluding to his comments the night before. "#Relax #ItsBritneyBitch I do love that saying though *with accent* #Respect" ("It's Britney, bitch" is a line from Spears' hit "Gimme More." Since the song's 2007 release, the phrase has been sampled in various other tunes, including "Til the World Ends," featuring Nicki Minaj and Ke$ha, and will.i.am's "Scream & Shout.")
Timberlake, who married Jessica Biel in October 2012, hasn't spoken much recently about his relationship with Spears, but he did tell Vanity Fair in 2011 that he wished her the best. "That goes without saying," he told the magazine, adding that they hadn't spoken in "nine or ten years."
"We were two birds of the feather -- small-town kids, doing the same thing," he said of Spears, whom he first worked with on The Mickey Mouse Club in 1992. "But then you become adults, and the way you were as kids doesn't make any sense. I won't speak on her, but at least for me, I was a totally different person. I just don't think we were normal; there was nothing normal about our existence."
Not that Spears' life is so normal now. The last decade has been a tumultuous one for the singer, full of ups and downs in both her professional and personal life. Most recently, she quit her job as a judge on The X Factor and broke off her engagement to fiance Jason Trawick.