The Super Bowl halftime show has included renowned music icons in recent decades but earlier on, the show involved marching bands and drill teams. As time passed, the halftime show has presented unique musical fusions, with some shows showcasing a prominent artist accompanied by guest performers, while others featured a mix of musicians from diverse genres. We will now explore the top-ranked Super Bowl halftime shows ever, for your enjoyment.
It’s hardly astonishing that Prince, the renowned singer-songwriter, delivered a mesmerizing performance at the Super Bowl. The celebrated artist was the centerpiece of the halftime show in 2007, and his presentation is still widely renowned today. Throughout his performance, the extravagant and musically versatile Prince showcased a blend of his own popular tracks along with covers of other songs.
He combined Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and Foo Fighters’ “Best of You” seamlessly. Prince finished his remarkable Super Bowl show by flawlessly performing “Purple Rain”. Additionally, rain began to pour down during his guitar solo, giving a perfect touch to his performance.
During her solo performance at the Super Bowl, Queen Bey made certain to deliver a flawless performance and also took the chance to reunite with her former bandmates from Destiny’s Child. Viewers witnessed Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams joining Beyoncé as special guests in her headline performance during the 2013 event.
The group put on a spectacular show, featuring some of their most popular songs such as “Bootylicious” and “Independent Women”. The impact of their Super Bowl performance was so great that it caused a power outage in half of the Superdome, which lasted for more than 30 minutes. Despite the interruption, the performance was deemed to be worth the trouble.
In the year 2002, the United States was still recovering from the turmoil of the preceding year. During the Super Bowl halftime show, the Irish rock band U2 was the main act. Their performance of “Beautiful Day” had a positive impact on the nation, bringing about a sense of hope and solidarity.
Bono, the frontman of U2, disclosed that his jacket’s interior had an American flag. The Louisiana Superdome’s crowd was ecstatic as U2 ended their performance with an energetic version of “Where the Streets Have No Name.” It’s no wonder that the concertgoers were thrilled.
The halftime show featuring the Prince of Pop at the Super Bowl in 1993 was a significant catalyst for the spectacular and highly popular halftime shows we witness today. Michael Jackson’s performance during the halftime show was so impressive that it resulted in an unprecedented surge in television viewership during halftime breaks of the football game.
During his impressive display at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, Michael Jackson delivered an exceptional performance. He included his renditions of “We Are the World” and “Heal the World”, as well as his signature moonwalk to the tune of “Billie Jean”. As a result of this remarkable Super Bowl show, there was a tremendous 83% surge in the sales of his album “Dangerous”.
In the Super Bowl halftime show of 2012 held in Indianapolis, Madonna, the Queen of Pop, was the main performer. During her act, she featured several special guests, such as LMFAO, a duo known for electronic dance music, Nicki Minaj and M.I.A, both rappers, and CeeLo Green, a singer and songwriter.
In addition to the Cirque du Soleil performers, dancers, and drummers, Madonna concluded her performance by singing a grandiose rendition of “Just Like a Prayer” alongside CeeLo Green and a large group of choir members dressed in robes. It is indisputable that this renowned performer has the ability to deliver an outstanding show.
Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, P. Diddy, Kid Rock, Jessica Simpson, and Nelly
The highlight of the 2004 Super Bowl show is commonly remembered as the mishap between Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake. Nevertheless, the performance was actually led by a collection of musicians that featured the likes of P. Diddy, Kid Rock, Jessica Simpson, and Nelly, an eclectic mix indeed.
Janet Jackson became widely known for the incident where her clothing malfunctioned while performing in front of a massive audience, leading to the creation of the term “wardrobe malfunction.” However, it’s unfortunate that this event resulted in her being shunned by several music channels and radio stations.
Eminem, Mary J. Blige, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Kendrick Lamar
The focus of the Super Bowl performance of 2022 centered around hip-hop music, with big names such as Eminem, Mary J. Blige, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and Kendrick Lamar headlining the event. There were also special guests such as 50 Cent and Anderson .Paak who joined the performance. These influential rappers showcased some of their most popular songs during the show.
Audiences were thrilled by Mary J. Blige’s performance of “No More Drama,” while Eminem delivered an intense performance of “Lose Yourself” at this show. As a result, the show made history by becoming the first Super Bowl show to win the Outstanding Variety Special Emmy twice.
Katy Perry is renowned for delivering excellent performances, and her 2015 Super Bowl halftime show was no exception. It is highly recognized and regarded as the most viewed halftime show on network broadcast of all time, with an impressive 118.5 million viewers.
Katy Perry had a remarkable performance where she featured singer-songwriter Lenny Kravitz and rapper Missy Elliot as surprise performers. While singing “Firework,” Katy soared through the air and also sang “Roar” while being on a big lion puppet. This outstanding performance was recognized with two Emmy accolades for lighting and costume.
Jennifer Lopez and Shakira
The 2020 Super Bowl’s co-headliners, Jennifer Lopez and Shakira who are Latina powerhouses, set new records with their performance. According to reports, their halftime show became the most popular halftime show around the world and also the most viewed performance on YouTube. This news did not come as a surprise to us.
J.Lo and Shakira had the pleasure of featuring Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny and Colombian singer J Balvin as their guests during the performance. The guests treated the audience with a variety of popular tunes such as “She Wolf”, “Jenny from the Block”, “Hips Don’t Lie”, “Ain’t it Funny”, “Whenever, Wherever”, and “Get Right”.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
Over time, Bruce Springsteen declined the chance to play at the Super Bowl. Yet, in 2009, he and the E Street Band concluded that it was their turn. At the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, Bruce Springsteen showcased four of his hit songs. It goes without saying that he featured his initial worldwide release, “Born to Run”.
The musician from New Jersey performed for 12 minutes, so he had to omit a verse from every song he played. He concluded his set with his 1985 hit track called “Glory Days”.
Lady Gaga, who is known for her versatility, chose a rather uncommon way to kick off her Super Bowl halftime show in 2017. She began her performance by singing “God Bless America” and “This Land Is Your Land”, which was reminiscent of the early days of Super Bowl halftime shows.
Nonetheless, Lady Gaga also presented her popular songs such as “Poker Face” and “Born This Way”. The most impressive part was her final performance where she released her microphone and caught a football before disappearing from the stage.
Aerosmith and NSYNC
It’s worth contemplating who arranged the Super Bowl halftime shows, as some of them were quite unusual. For instance, in 2001, Aerosmith and NSYNC were the main acts, with Britney Spears, Nelly, and Mary J. Blige also making appearances. The years spanning 2000 to 2009 were definitely a chaotic period for popular culture.
The entire group ended the show by singing together to the popular song “Walk This Way” by Aerosmith. During other parts of the performance, NSYNC performed their hit song “Bye Bye Bye” and Aerosmith sang their famous love song “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing”.
If you aim to create impressive Super Bowl performances, it would be logical to select a renowned musician such as Diana Ross who is an icon. In fact, in 1996 when Ross was the main act, she performed a combination of her most popular songs, receiving notable recognition for her outstanding performance.
Audiences cheered along to “Stop In the Name of Love”, “Chain Reaction”, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, and “Take Me Higher”. Diana Ross arrived on stage on a crane made of sparklers. When she finished her final song, a helicopter swooped down to take her away.
There was some controversy in 2016 when Coldplay was named as the Super Bowl halftime show headliners. This was largely because Ms. Beyoncé Knowles was relegated to a special guest, alongside Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson. Despite this, Queen Bey’s performance of her new single “Formation” made headlines across the country.
This performance opened with some of Coldplay’s greatest hits, including “Yellow” and “Viva la Vida”. However, we preferred Bey and Bruno facing off in a “Crazy in Love/Uptown Funk” dance-off.
After the Super Bowl drama with Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake, the NFL went with a much safer choice. In 2005, audiences were serenaded by former Beatle Paul McCartney. The English singer-songwriter performed four songs, with no special guests or controversial dance routines.
Sir Paul opened his set with Beatles song “Drive My Car”, before moving onto “Get Back” and “Live and Let Die”. His finale was a classic rendition of “Hey Jude”, with the 84,000 stadium attendees singing along.
Shania Twain and No Doubt
It’s time for an unexpected supergroup. In 2003, the Super Bowl co-headliners were country star Shania Twain and rock band No Doubt, fronted by Gwen Stefani. Stranger still, they were joined by special guest, Sting.
Shania opened the set with mega hits “Man” I Feel like a Woman!” and “Up” followed by No Doubt’s catchy single “Just a Girl”. This strange set concluded with No Doubt and Sting harmonizing along to The Police song “Message in a Bottle”. Only at the Super Bowl.
The Rolling Stones
The length of Super Bowl halftime shows has varied over time. Some artists get through 10 to 15 songs, whereas others stick to four to six. However, when legendary rockers The Rolling Stones headlined in 2006, they only played three. Despite this, the show was viewed by almost 90 million people.
That was more than the combined audiences for the Oscars, the Grammys, and the Emmys. The English band performed in front of their iconic tongue logo on the largest stage ever assembled for a halftime show.
Occasionally, audiences are skeptical about whether an artist is big enough to headline a Super Bowl show. This was the case with Bruno Mars in 2014, who was still one year away from releasing his huge hit “Uptown Funk”. Despite this, the Hawaii-born star put on quite a show.
The Red Hot Chili Peppers joined as special guests to perform their track “Give it Away” with the headliner. Plus, Bruno Mars dedicated his closing song, “Just the Way You Are” to the families of soldiers.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers was a pretty good choice for the 2008 Super Bowl halftime show. After all, football fans know the group’s biggest hits, and they fit in well with the Americana vibes of an NFL game. Fittingly, the rock band opened with “American Girl”, before performing “I Won’t Back Down”, “Free Fallin’”, and “Runnin’ Down a Dream”.
Tom Petty understood this assignment. Apparently, other options for the 2008 show included Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen, Norah Jones, and The Eagles.
Stevie Wonder, Gloria Estefan, and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
The 1999 Super Bowl show was truly a 90s extravaganza. The headliners were celebrated singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder, Latin queen Gloria Estefan, and swing band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Together, these artists offered up a diverse, genre-blending performance. Tracks included Wonder’s “I Wish,” and Estefan’s “Turn The Beat Around”.
This show was billed as a “celebration of soul, salsa, and swing” and featured 1000 performers. Naturally, there were also huge lighted balloon balls, lasers, and pyrotechnics. Oh, and a skit featuring E.T.
Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, and Toni Braxton
We have to admit that we enjoy a bizarre Super Bowl supergroup. In 2000, Disney produced the halftime show featuring headliners Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, and Toni Braxton. Strangely, none of these hugely popular artists sang any of their greatest hits. Instead, they sang some rather disappointing and sappy ballads.
Together, Enrique and Christina crooned “Celebrate the Future Hand in Hand” while Toni belted the unknown track, “We Go On”. Meanwhile, English rocker Phil Collins sang the love song from Tarzan. Sigh.
Altogether, Justin Timberlake has performed at three Super Bowl halftime shows. He performed as part of NSYNC in the doomed ensemble with Janet Jackson, and then at his own headlining show in 2018.
At this performance, the pop star chose to promote his new album Man of the Woods rather than focusing on his big hits. Perhaps JT was trying to play it safe after his previous halftime show controversies. While he didn’t get anyone blacklisted this time, he received mixed reviews from critics.
Boyz II Men, Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves, The Temptations, and Queen Latifah
At the 1998 Super Bowl in San Diego California, the theme was a “Salute to Motown’s 40th Anniversary.” For this performance, the headliners included big hitters Boyz II Men, Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves, The Temptations, and Queen Latifah.
This hit-making lineup performed songs including “The Tracks of My Tears”, “A Song for Mama”, and “Dancing in the Street”. At this performance, Queen Latifah become the first rapper to make it onto the halftime show. In the years since, plenty of others have followed her lead.
In 2021, the world was still recovering from the shocking events of 2020. As a result, that year’s Super Bowl headliner The Weeknd focused on making the show “a cinematic experience” for home viewers. Oddly, the Canadian artist didn’t actually appear on the field until his final song, “Blinding Lights”.
This performance featured masked choir members standing against a neon city backdrop. There were no special guests, and there were issues with the audio quality. Overall, it’s certainly not in the Super Bowl halftime hall of fame.
The Blues Brothers, ZZ Top, and James Brown
Back in 1978, comedians Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi performed a musical sketch as The Blues Brothers. This eventually led to a 1980 comedy movie of the same name. When John Belushi passed away, the act continued with a revolving door of guest singers.
Bizarrely, in 1997, a version of The Blues Brothers performed at the Super Bowl. In this incarnation, Dan Aykroyd was joined by actors John Goodman and Jim Belushi. Weirder still, they performed with legendary soul singer James Brown and rock band ZZ Top.
The Black Eyed Peas
Our next entry is another odd concoction of musical acts. In 2011, the Black Eyed Peas headlined the Super Bowl, inviting special guests Usher and Slash to join them. So, that’s one pop-rap group, one R&B singer, and one hard rock guitarist. Right.
During this unforeseeable performance, the Black Eyed Peas cranked out “The Time (Dirty Bit)”, their version of “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life”. Then, Fergie crooned “Sweet Child O’ Mine” accompanied by Slash. Who would’ve thought?
Fans have been waiting for seven long years for Rihanna to finally return to the stage. Finally, they got their wish with the 2023 Super Bowl halftime show! She performed snippets from 12 of her most famous songs on top of an arial platform, with a highlight being her rendition of “All of the Lights”.
The biggest surprise came when Rihanna took off layers of her all-red outfit and revealed her pregnant belly! Like every Super Bowl headliner before her, RiRi wasn’t paid for the honor, yet she still gave a heck of a show.
Over time, various artists have turned down performing at the Super Bowl because of their views on the NFL. In 2019, the corporation was facing backlash over its blacklisting of athlete Colin Kaepernick. This meant that artists like Cardi B and Rihanna refused to perform.
However, Maroon 5 was ready and waiting to take that headliner spot. During their set, the pop-rock band invited out rappers Travis Scott and Big Boi. All three acts faced criticism for accepting the gig. Additionally, the show was considered underwhelming.
Along with Justin Timberlake, Gloria Estefan has performed at the Super Bowl three times. However, she has always been featured as part of an ensemble. In 1992, the Cuban-American star was joined by Olympic figure skaters in the “Winter Magic” halftime show.
This performance was before the show had transformed into the huge gig it is now. The seven-time Grammy award winner only sang two songs. The majority of the show was taken up by a marching band and figure skating. Still, she wore a fabulous outfit.
Amusingly, British rockers Pete Townsend and Roger Daltry had never watched an American football game before performing at the 2010 Super Bowl halftime show. Even when the NFL sent them other halftime shows on DVD for reference, they didn’t watch them. Perhaps that’s why The Who’s performance was so underwhelming.
During their set, the English rock band performed hits such as “Pinball Wizard”, and “Baba O’Riley”. After the fact, guitarist Pete Townsend remarked that “it was nice to be part of the spectacle.”
As we’ve seen, Super Bowl halftime shows didn’t become celebrity spectacles until the early ’90s. However, some big names did make appearances in the decades before. For example, in 1972 the Queen of Jazz performed a song during the halftime show.
In doing so, Ella Fitzgerald became the first African American and the first jazz artist to perform during halftime. That year, the theme was a “Salute to Louis Armstrong.” Fittingly, Lady Ella sang “Mack the Knife”, accompanied by trumpeter Al Hirt.
While Michael Jackson is considered the artist that kicked off the modern Super Bowl halftime show era, he’s far from the first celebrity to appear at the event. That title goes to actress, singer, and dancer Carol Channing.
The Broadway and movie star became the halftime show’s first celeb when she performed at the 1970 Super Bowl. Carol Channing took to the stage and sang a rousing performance of “When the Saints Go Marching In”. Also in the show were opera singer Marguerite Piazza and various musicians.
Tanya Tucker, Clint Black, Travis Tritt, and The Judds
In 1994, the Super Bowl halftime show was made up entirely of country singers. That year, the game took place in the Georgia Dome Atlanta with a theme of “Rockin’ Country Sunday.” It was country’s time to shine!
The headliners for the event were Nashville heavyweights Tanya Tucker, Clint Black, Travis Tritt, and the Judds. Views on this halftime show rely largely on how you feel about country music. The setlist included hits like “Tuckered Out”, “T-R-O-U-B-L-E”, and “Love Can Build a Bridge”.
New Kids on the Block
Interestingly, while ’90s boy band New Kids on the Block did perform at the 1991 Superbowl, their act was bumped for an ABC news report. As a result, at-home audiences could only view the show after the game had finished.
This might have been for the best, considering the band had to perform with a host of Disney characters. During their wholesome performance, the pioneering boyband sang “Step by Step”, and “This One’s for the Children”. Indeed, they were joined by 2000 local kids.
In the 1980s, the Super Bowl halftime show was still dominated by marching bands and drill teams. Despite this, rock singer and dancer Chubby Checker managed to get a headlining spot in 1988. He shared the performance with dance company The Rockettes, 88 grand piano players, and three different marching bands.
Known for popularizing various dance styles, Chubby Checker closed this halftime show with a medley. He combined his own single “Let’s Twist Again” with “The Super Bowl Twist”. Yikes.
Patti LaBelle, Tony Bennett, Teddy Pendergrass, and Miami Sound Machine
In the 90s, the Super Bowl still featured lots of Disney characters and music. This was the case for the 1995 show. It was headlined by soul singer Patti LaBelle, R&B artist Teddy Pendergrass, crooner Tony Bennett, and Latin band Miami Sound Machine.
This eclectic mix was joined by two performers dressed as Indiana Jones and his girlfriend Marion Ravenwood. During this bizarre performance, Patti LaBelle and Tony Bennett closed the show with “Can You Feel the Love Tonight” from The Lion King.
Many know Harrison Ford as the intergalactic flyboy Han Solo, and imaging another person playing the role is practically impossible. Especially knowing the fact that Ford has been a private pilot for more than 40 years now. However, even the best make mistakes, and after the actor went through remedial training, the F.A.A. said it had closed its investigation into a runway error he was involved in April 2020.
F.A.A. Says Harrison Ford Can Continue Flying (After April Accident)
The April Accident
The actor representatives said that on April 24th, he had “crossed the airport’s only runway in his aircraft after he misheard a radio instruction from the control tower. Harrison Ford immediately acknowledged his mistake and apologized for the error.
The F.A.A. said it closed the case after the actor completed a remedial runway incursion training course. Under the agency rules, Harrison Ford was allowed to keep piloting during the investigation; he did fly his son from California to Massachusetts in August for his return to college.
F.A.A. Says Harrison Ford Can Continue Flying (After April Accident)
Harrison Ford Has Never Been Shy About Admitting to Errors
In February 2017, Ford landed on a taxiway rather than the runway at John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana. He was coming within 100 feet of a commercial airliner, and he immediately radioed the tower at the airport and acknowledged he was responsible. He was also cleared to fly by the agency in that episode after he was required to complete an “awareness training” course.
It’s NOT a Celebrity Compromise
Isabel Goyer, editor of Plane & Pilot wrote that some are going to act outraged that a movie star got special treatment, but she firmly believes that this wasn’t the case. The editor also pointed out that in 2015, Harrison Ford showed great skill when a small plane he was piloting experienced engine failure, forcing the actor to make an emergency landing on a California golf course. The real-life hero had his pelvis and ankle broken in the crash, but he saved all the other passengers from injuries.