After Britney Spears Said That She Felt “Shamed” And “Shattered” By “Cry Me A River,” Justin Timberlake Added A Disclaimer To His Performance Of The Song

But people are wondering why he chose to perform the song at all on Thursday night.

It’s fair to say that Justin Timberlake was not having a good time when his ex girlfriend Britney Spears released her memoir, The Woman In Me, back in October.

closeup of Justin

In recent years, Justin has been facing increased scrutiny for the way that he treated Britney after their split in 2002. However, it all came to a head when Britney decided to share her side of the story.

closeup of britney in a one-shoulder dress

If you need reminding, Britney and Justin were the ultimate power couple when they started dating in 1999. But after their break up three years later, things took a turn for the worse.

closeup of the former couple in the 90s

At the time, Britney was heavily vilified due to speculation that she had cheated on Justin, and he actively fueled this narrative.

the two sitting in the audience with britney resting her head on justin's shoulder

Soon after their split, Justin released his second solo single, “Cry Me A River,” which is about finding out that your partner has been unfaithful — and the fact that a Britney lookalike was cast in the music video was not thought to be a coincidence.

In addition, Justin often made crude and disrespectful comments about his and Britney’s sex life, and as the years progressed he also made thinly veiled jabs at his ex’s mental health during public appearances and interviews.

Britney has largely kept silent in the two decades since the breakup, but she set the record straight in her book. Here, she claimed that Justin had actually cheated on her “a couple of times” in the years that they were together, and she revealed that she’d had a secret abortion prior to him breaking up with her via text message.

the two wearing basketball jerseys on the court

Britney said that the abortion remains “one of the most agonizing things” that she has ever experienced, and that if it’d been left up to her alone, she never would have gone through with it. She went on to detail Justin playing guitar while she was left “crying and sobbing” on the bathroom floor after the procedure.

justin playing guitar on stage

Britney even detailed the impact that being “shamed” in “Cry Me A River” had on her, recalling: “In the news media, I was described as a harlot who'd broken the heart of America's golden boy. The truth: I was comatose in Louisiana, and he was happily running around Hollywood.”

“May I just say that on his explosive album and in all the press that surrounded it, Justin neglected to mention the several times he'd cheated on me?” Britney continued. "There's always more leeway in Hollywood for men than for women. And I see how men are encouraged to talk trash about women in order to become famous and powerful. But I was shattered."

Britney went on to say that she felt as though she couldn’t tell her side of the story at the time because she “knew” no one would take her “side” after Justin had “convinced the world of his version.”

“I don't think Justin realized the power he had in shaming me,” Britney concluded. “I don't think he understands to this day.”

Britney also remembered being booed everywhere she went following “Cry Me A River’s” release, including when she attended a Lakers game with her family and “the whole arena” heckled her.

Needless to say, Britney’s revelations sparked an onslaught of criticism against Justin and people were left horrified when they looked into the amount of times that he had seemingly shaded her over the last 20 years.

Justin did not publicly acknowledge the backlash at the time, but he did turn off comments on his Instagram posts. A source close to the star also told ET: “In recent years, Justin has tried to be supportive of Britney from a distance. They dated so long ago, but he still has respect for her. Justin and Jessica [Biel, Justin’s wife] just want everyone to grow and evolve instead of continuing to bring up the past."

However, this only fueled the scrutiny when it was pointed out that Justin had seemingly been taking swipes at Britney as recently as five years ago.

And Justin appeared to allude to the messy situation when he performed at the opening of the Fontainebleau Hotel in Las Vegas on Thursday night.

justin on stage

As the instantly recognizable music for “Cry Me A River” started, Justin pointedly told the crowd: “No disrespect,” before singing: “But aren’t we all just entertainers?”


@Justin Timberlake saying “no disrespect” before singing Cry me a river last night 😂😭😭

♬ original sound -
TikTok @chynnatok / Via

Justin originally sang this Nirvana reference in his feature on Jay-Z’s song “Holy Grail,” and often starts performances of “Cry Me A River” with it. However, fans felt as though it was particularly loaded last night with the added context of Britney’s memoir and his prefacing the song with “no disrespect.”

him on stage with dancers

Commenting on a video of the performance, one person claimed: “I believe he’s saying she did it to entertain us but maybe it’s not all the truth… 🧐. After all they are just entertainers.”

Another added: “just entertainers. said it all.😁😁.” One more reacted: “Oh now we all just entertainers nawwwwwww we good.”

Others were just confused as to why Justin would still perform this song when he knew how much pain it had caused Britney, and that it would likely spark backlash — regardless of his disclaimer.

“He’s got a ton of songs he could sing. He doesn’t need to keep performing this one. It IS disrespectful ☹️” one comment on the video reads.

“He only had one hour to fill and this had to be in there? It’s all disrespect. What a trash bag,” another user agreed.

Somebody else wrote: “Leaves this one out of the set tho… come on,” while one more asked: “Why would he even play cry me a river.”

“Just stop singing this song dude,” another person urged, with one user claiming: “He said ‘no disrespect’ but he knows wtf hes doin.”

Britney herself has not publicly acknowledged Justin’s performance.

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