The top 10 Superbowl halftime shows


Superbowl 2016 is just around the corner, and of course the traditional halftime show will be present. From marching bands to Michael Jackson to Nipple-gate to last year’s left shark, the Superbowl has seen a wide variety of acts grace the 12 minute period between the second and third quarters of the game. This years’ edition will feature Coldplay (and Beyonce) in what promises to be one of the most spectacular shows yet. Whether it will match up to these ten legendary performances, however, remains to be seen. And fear not, there are no Black-Eyed Peas in sight.

10. Bruno Mars (2014)

Bruno had big shoes to fill when he took to the stage for the 48th version of the Superbowl, and it is fair to say that the filled these gracefully enough, although he was not helped at all by the unnecessary inclusion of the instrumentally-miming Red Hot Chili Peppers into the lineup. Mars, however, was confident and assured, starting off by himself with the drums and then falling back into his suitably jazzed-up band. A fun, if safe, performance.


9.  Janet Jackson, P. Diddy, Nelly, Kid Rock & Justin Timberlake (2004)

Ah, probably the most famous halftime-show at all. After this wardrobe malfunction, no-one really cared about the result. To be honest, no-one really cared about the other performer, either. Indeed, ‘nipplegate’ resulted in CBS being fined a cool $550,000, and MTV were banned from being involved in any future half-time shows. Despite the controversy, we at least had the 2004 show to thank for the creation of YouTube.

See the controversial incident below:


8.  The Rolling Stones (2006)

Oh look, it’s the immortal Rolling Stones. Who doesn’t love seeing an impressively-toned Mick Jagger strut his stuff around the stage, whilst shouting lyrics into the microphone and gyrating unnecessarily like your drunk uncle at a wedding?

Chuck in multiple cans of dyed hair and a few legendary songs (okay, one) and you have the recipe for a fun and iconic half-time show. They really are medical marvels.


7.  Aerosmith, ‘N Sync, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige & Nelly (2001)

Probably the most American show on this list, and we have MTV to thank for this one. Featuring all your favourite 1am Jesters songs, this half-time show is a fun nostalgia trip, featuring horrendous dancing, visually alarming clothing, out-of-date head-microphones and a plastic Steven Tyler. What’s not to love? But seriously, it’s a great mashed-up performance by all, especially Aerosmith.


6.  Michael Jackson (1993)

The one that started the halftime show as we know it. With the show starting with Jackson standing still for a full ninety seconds, Jackson mesmerised Southern California with his most well-known hits, and of course the moonwalk. Ending the show with ‘Heal the World’, surrounded by children of all backgrounds, it is truly an iconic Superbowl moment – but of course, we all know that Jackson levitating out of the stadium screens at the start of the show was the best part of the show.


5.  Paul McCartney (2005)

The one after ‘nipplegate’ had McCartney promise that there would be no wardrobe malfunctions during the show, as he would be doing it entirely naked. Thankfully it was a joke as the lack of clothing would have distracted us from the wonderful set that he performed, culminating with the beautiful double-whammy of ‘Live and Let Die’ and ‘Hey Jude’. He’s an accomplished professional, and this was a fantastic performance which was well-sung – unlike some others in this list. I’m looking at you, Mick Jagger.


4.  Beyonce (2013)

What was billed as Beyonce featuring Destiny’s Child just turned into Beyonce featuring two random women. Amazing staging and a set packed full of classics, including ‘Single Ladies’ and ‘Crazy in Love’ ensured that this goes down in history as one of the very best half-time shows. Flawless singing, dancing and timing in this 12 minute show has surely cemented Beyonce’s position as a modern legend. Even baby-booming rockers were converted to Queen B by the end of the show. Probably.


3.  U2 (2002)

The 2002 edition was certainly a poignant one as of course the show happened only a few months after 9/11, and U2 delivered an emotionally stunning performance, with ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ featuring a banner of every victim from the attacks. This show really tugged on America’s heartstrings, during their greatest sporting event – it was beautiful. Also, it’s U2. The band that everyone secretly likes, although they all pretend not to, despite the fact that Bono’s involved.


2.  Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band (2009)

“Put the chicken fingers down!” Bruce Springsteen certainly proved to the world why he is one of the greatest live performers around with this exhilarating set. Chemistry with the wonderful E Street Band (including the sadly departed Clarence Clemons and Steve van Zandt’s impressive bandana), multiple interactions with the audience, musical excellence and his impressive opening words as the band built up into ’10th Avenue Freeze Out’ puts this show into legend.

Oh, and he also crotch-slammed the camera – he gets bonus points for that.


1.  Prince (2007)

What else can we say about the man who once styled himself as ‘the artist formerly known as Prince’? Usually electricity and water don’t mix, but his electric performance as the rain bucketed down in Miami was the perfect combination. Starting with a cover of ‘We Will Rock You’ and ending with the wonderful ‘Purple Rain’ (in the rain), his wonderful guitar work and working of the crowd, especially given the conditions, means that this performance takes the crown as the best Superbowl half-time show ever.

Can Coldplay top this? We’ll have to wait and see.


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