With Super Bowl 55 set for this Sunday and the Weeknd taking centre stage, there’s no better time to countdown the top 10 most iconic Super Bowl halftime performances. We know sports fans might not understand it, but the halftime show is an essential part of the Super Bowl spectacle with plenty of people only watching for the televised concert. The Super Bowl has run through many different eras of music, with the performances lingering longer in memory than the games themselves.
Michael Jackson (1993)
The famous Super Bowl halftime show began with none other than the King of Pop himself. Michael Jackson’s 1993 performance established the beginning of an era while placing marching bands in the past. With fireworks and a thrilling setlist including, “Billie Jean,” “Black or White,” and “Heal the World,” this performance was a truly epic moment in not only sports history, but world history.
Today marks 27 years since Michael Jackson’s performance at the Super Bowl. To this day it remains one of the most watched events in American TV history with 550 million viewers – the first time in Super Bowl history that ratings increased between halves during the game 👑 pic.twitter.com/1WCKFIW8sG
— Lucy (@kjngofpops) January 31, 2020
A good Super Bowl halftime show should be A LOT, and the Queen of Pop did not disappoint. Madonna’s 2012 performance spotlighted a Roman theme, slackline stunts, electronic dance duo LMFAO, rappers Nicki Minaj and M.I.A., singer CeeLo Green, 100 drummers, 200 choir singers and 150 gladiators. To no surprise, it all came together beautifully.
Lady Gaga (2017)
Dressed in her classic wardrobe, Lady Gaga made history with the queer-positive anthem “Born This Way”; marking the first time the word “transgender” had ever been uttered at the Super Bowl. With a setlist including classics like “Poker Face,” “Telephone,” and “Just Dance,” Gaga reminded us why she is the definition of pure pop supremacy.
What could be more legendary than Prince singing “Purple Rain” in the actual rain? Almost as if he had commanded the water from the sky himself, Prince’s 2007 Super Bowl halftime show was nothing short of memorable. Ruling the stage with classic hits such as “Let’s Go Crazy” and “Baby I’m a Star” as well as a Foo Fighters cover, the surprises kept coming.
On this day in 2007, Prince made history by performing the greatest Super Bowl halftime show ever.
📸: Jeff Kravitz/Film Magic, Inc. pic.twitter.com/IEooZ7u3Ol
— PRINCE LEGION (@PRNLegion) February 4, 2021
Jennifer Lopez and Shakira (2020)
Femme-power marked the 2020 Super Bowl halftime show, with Jennifer Lopez and Shakira living up to their promise of an unforgettable performance. Shakira’s rockstar talent and crowd surfing combined with Jlo’s pole-emergence left the crowd in awe. Let’s not forget these women brought politics to light during their performance, to boot.
Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child (2013)
Beyoncé came together with Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams for a long-overdue reunion of Destiny’s Child during the 2013 Super Bowl halftime show. The threesome performed “Bootylicious,” “Single Ladies,” and “Independent Women”. Beyoncé, always good for a spectacle, even blew out the lights at the Superdome during “Halo”, creating a 33-minute 55-second blackout – the second most tweeted moment in the social media’s history.
Remember that one time a beyonce concert had a super bowl in it and the lights went off? pic.twitter.com/YTRu24rmjE
— Josh Sorbe (@joshsorbe) February 2, 2015
Diana Ross (1996)
The 1996 Super Bowl halftime was a real extravaganza. The show had everything from Diana Ross descending wearing a skintight jumpsuit and singing “I Will Survive,” to her being escorted onto a helicopter and flying off while hanging out the side. To top things off, Diana performed four costume changes, as any true diva should.
— Ms. Ross (@DianaRoss) February 3, 2019
Rolling Stones (2006)
During the 2006 Super Bowl halftime show, the Rolling Stones stopped the audience in their tracks, performing on a stage designed to look like the band’s legendary lips logo. Of course, great music only added to the show-stopping performance. They played megahits like “Start Me Up,” “Rough Justice” and the greatest crowd-pleaser, “Satisfaction.”
— MarieFranceRemillard (@MFRemillard) February 3, 2019
Katy Perry (2015)
Katy Perry proved she knows how to put on a good show during her Vegas-inspired 2015 Super Bowl halftime show. Highlights included coming out on a 30-foot-long and 14-foot-tall lion, dancing palm trees, Left Shark and a surprise that truly shocked the world – Missy Elliot.
6 years ago today, @KatyPerry made history with her performance at the Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show !
The critically acclaimed show became the most-watched halftime performance of all time with over 120.7M viewers, a record still hold by the singer. pic.twitter.com/06x0shsrGI
— KATY PERRY NEWS (@KPInfos_) January 31, 2021
Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers (2014)
Singer-songwriter Bruno Mars proved he belonged on the Superdome stage right off the bat with his remarkable drum solo. His performance was reminiscent of the Motown halftime shows in the 1990s. He then gave it away (pun intended) to the Red Hot Chili Peppers who sang their biggest hit “Give It Away”.
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