What do Gloria Estefan, New Kids on the Block, Tony Bennett and Indiana Jones have in common? Believe it or not, they have all performed in Super Bowl halftime shows.
Since the 1990s, the Super Bowl has been as much about the celebrity performances at halftime as it has been about football. In fact, more viewers tune into the halftime show than the game itself!
1993 was a pivotal year. After Michael Jackson’s legendary Super Bowl performance, viewership of the game, and the halftime show in particular, dramatically increased. The NFL was quick to capitalize on this opportunity and since then has packed the stage with some of the most famous artists on the planet.
With 150 million captivated viewers (okay, some of them are a bit tipsy, but still), packing a star-studded halftime show has been a lucrative decision for the NFL, for television networks and for the artists alike. In fact, the show is such a money-maker for performers, rumor has it the NFL is now asking artists to pay to participate.
Despite the A-list artists, inflated budget and elaborate productions, not all of the Super Bowl halftime shows have been smashingly successful. (Must we mention Nipplegate in every article about halftime shows?) But let’s not dwell on those lesser moments in Super Bowls’ past.
Focusing on the halftime shows that took place after 2000, here’s a look at the performances that have lived up to the hype. Here are the top five best performances of the millenia:
5. Super Bowl XLI Halftime Show (2007)
Prince is a unique and versatile performer and no one knew quite what to expect from the artist when he took the stage at Sun Life Stadium in Miami. He managed to pack seven songs — and a full on rain storm — into his phenomenal performance during the halftime of Super Bowl 2007. While there was some controversy over his phallic silhouette, displayed during his finale of “Purple Rain,” most viewers were utterly wowed by the show. Prince played three of his own numbers: “Let’s Go Crazy,” “1999” and “Purple Rain” but also did some incredible covers of Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary” and Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower.”
4. Super Bowl XLIII Halftime Show (2009)
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
In 1973, Bruce Springsteen’s manager tried unsuccessfully to get him a gig at the Super Bowl halftime show. In later years, as the performer’s fame grew, the NFL actually attempted several times to book him, but he never signed on. It wasn’t until 2009, a full 36 years after his manager first tried to get him those precious minutes in the spotlight, that the Big Boss finally agreed to play the Big Game. For 12 spectacular minutes, Bruce and the E Street Band rocked out on stage, playing four songs including some of their biggest hits like “Born to Run” and “Working on Dream.” Few performers on Earth match Bruce’s musical talent and energy, but maybe what sets him truly apart is that even after so many years on stage, Bruce always looks like he is having the most fun in the room!
3. Super Bowl XL Halftime Show (2006)
The Rolling Stones
Mick Jagger was born to be in the spotlight and if his performance at age 62 during the 2006 Super Bowl is any indicator, he’ll still be rocking it at 120. Apart from the tongue shaped stage, the halftime show was relatively free from bells and whistles. It was a classic beauty that stands out because of the sheer power of the music and the band. The Stones played just three songs: “Start Me Up,” “Rough Justice” and (duh!) “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” but they performed as fabulously as ever. The only scandalous part of the show was edited out by sensors. (Ever since Janet’s famous incident, the halftime show is aired on a five-second delay.) Apparently there were a few sexually explicit moments, but those of us at home had to settle for the PG rated version. Then again, even the kid-friendly version was epic – and definitely one of the best of all time!
2. Super Bowl XLVII Halftime Show (2013)
Beyoncé, Destiny’s Child
We knew this halftime show would be a good one from the minute it got started. Pepsi kicked it off with an awesome, user-generated countdown.
And it only got better from there! Beyonce was the girl on fire. And not the one from Hunger Games. No, this diva sent her very own flames and smoke flying out into the world. B. rocked the crowd with a packed setlist featuring “Run the World”, “Love on Top”, “Crazy in Love”, “End of Time” and “Baby Boy”. And that was just the first half of the show.
Next up, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams shot onto the stage for an epic reunion of Destiny’s Child! You didn’t have to be a Beyonce fan to be captivated by her talent. She was simply outstanding. (Even The New York Times thought so!)
1. Super Bowl XXXVI Halftime Show (2002)
Call us a little bit cheesy, but this unforgettable Super Bowl halftime show had it all: musical talent, seamless production, a performance that audiences of all ages could love and — most notably — class.
When U2 took the stage midway through Super Bowl XXXVI, America was a wounded nation. Just five months after the tragedy of September 11, the country was in a delicate emotional state. Bono and his band gave a stunning, poignant performance that sent chills down our spine and brought many to tears.
Opening with an energetic performance of “It’s a Beautiful Day,” the show made history with the monumental rendition of “Where the Streets Have No Name.” As Bono circled the heart-shaped stage, a black screen rose into the air with a list of the names of all those who had died in the terrorist attack. At the end of the song, the Irish-born singer reminded us that “We Are All American” when he opened his jacket to reveal the stars and stripes.
Will Katy Perry’s halftime show in Super Bowl 2015 rank among the top shows of all time? Will it surpass last year’s world record when 115.3 million viewers tuned in to watch Bruno Mars in Super Bowl XLVIII?As hype builds and Game Day approaches, we can only wait and see….