The Best Super Bowl Halftime Shows
From Beyoncé and Paul McCartney to the most famous wardrobe malfunction on live television, see the best performances.
The best excuse to call in sick on a Monday for work is finally here. Yes, we’re talking about the Super Bowl. For those who aren’t easily entertained by football, food, and hilarious commercials (some of which cost more than a brand-new Bentley), there’s always the halftime show. You know, the concert that some consider the main event of the night. Remember Mick Jagger is skinny jeans? Beyoncé reuniting with Destiny’s Child? Nipplegate?!
But before all that, the halftime show originated with members of the University of Arizona and the University of Michigan marching bands performing at the first Super Bowl in 1967. Halftime performances did not become an annual part of the festivities until 1993. It has since evolved into a large display with lights, fireworks, and more panache than whatever’s in the salsa you’ll eat while you.
This year, the headliners are Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. But there is a challenger: The Puppy Bowl will have a halftime performance of the Keyboard Cat playing Bruno Mars songs. (How purrfect, obviously.)
In honor of this wondrous spectacle—the Super Bowl, not the Puppy Bowl—here are the best halftime show performance.
1. Beyoncé (and Destiny’s Child)
It’s hard to resist Queen Bey—and with Michelle Williams and Kelly Rowland by her side—the performance had all of our inner teenage girls screaming. The 2013 show garnered over 100 million viewers and was a nice I-am-woman-hear-me-roar break from the classic rock stars strutting (what’s left of) their stuff onstage.
2. The King of Pop
At 1993’s show, the King of Pop performed a medley of his most famous tunes. This particular performance is arguably last act to his reign as King. He brings a few thousand kids onstage to perform “Heal the World” (use whatever sick joke you must), and gained the most viewers ever for the halftime show (135 million viewers).
3. Bono Remembers 9/11
In 2002, Bono made an awesome tribute to the victims as 9/11. He had an American flag sewn into the inside of his jacket, and during “Where the Streets Have No Name,” the names of PDNY, FDNY and the passengers of the hijacked planes were projected onstage.
4. THE Wardrobe Malfunction
You remember this. It was 2004’s infamous show, where the world saw Janet Jackson’s nipple (after Justin Timberlake tore off a part of her outfit. Indecency in broadcasting became a major concern, and CBS was fined over half a million dollars. It also led to the introduction of classic rock bands taking over the halftime show for a few years. Oh, and it’s probably worth mentioning that Jessica Simpson, Nelly, P. Diddy and Kid Rock also performed that year too (just minor details).
5. Prince in the Rain
What could be more appropriate that Prince performing “Purple Rain” in the rain? He freaked out audiences at home in 2007 with a shadow casting from him and his guitar, with a “phallic connotation” when projected onto a large sheet.
6. Sir Paul
Paul McCartney was the first of a few years of classic rock stars to grace the Super Bowl’s halftime shows. Sir Paul had a great set, complete with fireworks and an Eagles song. Nothing beats him finishing his gig with “Hey Jude” as the thousands of fans in attendance at the game sang the “na na”’s with the Beatle.
7. The Boss
Bruce Springsteen appeared at the 2009 halftime show with his E-Street Band, and proved that he still is indeed The Boss (complete with a referee declaring it so). Very few people will tell their audience to stop eating at home to join them.
8. Bye Bye Bowl
Every ‘90s kid had their dream come true at the 2001 Super Bowl halftime show. Britney Spears, *NSYNC, Mary J. Blige, and Nelly performed, along with Aerosmith. Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, and Ben Stiller also made an appearance, making 2001 probably the most eclectic year for half time shows.
9. The Rolling Stones
A badass rock band is nothing without getting the NFL bleeping out lyrics to their first two songs, complete with a five-second delay. Their stage was also pretty unforgettable. Where else can you find a giant light-up pair of lips with a long tongue?