The Most Memorable Super Bowl Halftime Performances

The Most Memorable Super Bowl Halftime Performances

Will Justin Timberlake make this list again with his performance this weekend?

Will Justin Timberlake make this list again with his performance this weekend?

Text: Dominique Norman

Text: Rayne H. Ellis

If there’s anything that Super Bowl fans can agree on, it's that the halftime show is half the entertainment. We all remember the year that we saw Janet Jackson’s pasty on live television, which then led to her being blacklisted from MTV and CBS and Justin Timberlake’s career taking off. Or even in 1989, when an Elvis impersonator named Elvis Presto did a 3-D card trick and a stoic Bob Costas deeming it “almost too exciting to bear”. This year, fourteen years following the infamous ‘nipplegate’ incident, Justin Timberlake is set to headline Super Bowl LII. The show organizers have been keen on stepping it up from nip slips and King of Rock and Roll impersonators, so we’re sure 2018 will be a show worth watching. We’ve compiled a list of the most memorable Super Bowl halftime time performances in anticipation for the big show. See if your fave made the cut.

LI: Lady Gaga, 2017

Gaga opened with her raw, powerful vocals singing a patriotic snippet of "This Land is Your Land," only to jump in, literally, to her greatest hits, including "Poker Face", "Born This Way", "Million Reasons", "Bad Romance," and "Telephone". The performance was classic Gaga, in stardust makeup, gorgeous diamond-studded outfits, and dance numbers for days, not to mention the intro where she flies through the air with the elegance only Lady Gaga could possess.

XLI: Prince, 2007

The fact that Prince can put on a show has never been disputed; the Minnesota-born singer oozes sex no matter what stage he's on. But on this particular Sunday night in February, Mr. Purple Rain himself was forced to deliver a performance that put him down as one of the top Super Bowl halftime performances in history. On his "Love Symbol"-shaped stage, wearing a neatly-tailored electric blue suit, in the pouring rain, the icon performed hit after hit. And while the game itself was dismal (considering it was the first one played in rainy conditions), Prince made sure it was a night to remember.

XXVII: Michael Jackson, 1993

After a less than show-stopping halftime performance the year prior, CBS had to make up for lost interest. What better way to make a comeback than the King of Pop himself? Michael Jackson had recently released his ballad "Heal the World", so the show included the new song as the finale, as well as a medley of hits including "Billie Jean", "Black or White", "Jam", and "We Are the World" with 3,500 fans involved in the performance.

XLVII: Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child, 2013

It's difficult to talk about Super Bowl halftime shows without thinking of the 15-minute show Beyoncé put on for the 108 million viewers who tuned in that year. With a career spanning three separate decades and a diverse discography, the hits kept coming. Fast-forward to seven minutes in and all of a sudden the unthinkable has become a reality; Destiny's Child is on stage together once again. Twenty minutes later and the power in the stadium went out. She literally shut it down.

XLVIII: Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, 2014

Bruno Mars opened with an adorable children's choir singing his lyrics "Every time I close my eyes, I see my name in shining lights. A different city every night, oh I, I swear, the world better prepare". Something about children envisioning their future in harmony just tugs on your heart strings. With typical Bruno Mars swagger, he performed his biggest hits at that time including "Locked Out of Heaven", "Treasure" and "Just the Way You Are". The Red Hot Chili Peppers joined mid-performance with "Give It Away". The performance also included an emotional military tribute.

XXX: Diana Ross, 1996

The quality of show put on by the legendary Diana Ross rivals that of the five-star productions in more recent years. With her name spelled out (in cursive) by a mob of people, the songstress made her grand entrance on a raised platform, sparks flying everywhere, in a glittering red dress, belting "Stop in the Name of Love" only the way she can. The setlist was stellar, and the massive viewing audience was hit with a wave of nostalgia. Her performance proclaimed disco never dies and to end it with an exclamation point, she left the stage in a helicopter.

XXXV: Aerosmith, *NSYNC, Nelly, Mary J. Blige, and Britney Spears, 2001

The powerhouse packed performance was aptly named "The Kings of Rock and Pop" opened with a skit of Ben Stiller hyping up the performers stating "You are 'AeroSync". The performance had all of the late 90's top hits including "Bye Bye Bye", "Walk This Way", "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing", and "It's Gonna Be Me". Oh, and Britney wore an arm sock, which is pure 2000's entertainment.

L: Coldplay, Beyoncé, and Bruno Mars, 2016

Everyone forgets that the headliner for Super Bowl 50 was Coldplay, and forgivably so. While the band has earned their place in Rock 'n Roll history, when Beyoncé threatens to release new music, people tend to lose focus. Her performance in this Super Bowl informed the waking world that new music was on its way. And thus, "Formation" was performed. Accompanied by everyone's favorite funky soul man, Bruno Mars, Super Bowl L's halftime show was as much of a spectacle as it was a show.

XXXVI: U2, 2002

Barely a year after suffering the worst terrorist attack on American soil, U2 got on stage in Louisiana to perform with one purpose: to heal. The Irish rock band has always preached about unity and love, but these concepts were particularly important during this halftime performance. With songs like "Beautiful Day" to prop them up, the group performed while the names of the victims of the 9/11 attacks scrolled across the screen. Joined by members of the NYPD and with the American flag flying high, U2 attempted to teach America how to have fun again after so much had been lost.

XXXVIII: Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Kid Rock, P. Diddy, and Nelly, 2004

While most remember this halftime show for the cultural calamity that it was, the performance itself was stellar. Janet Jackson has always been known for her stage presence and sex appeal (unfortunately, the latter got the best of her). Singing and dancing to the hits like "All for You," the R&B diva looked at ease on the stage performing for millions. But her phenomenal performance was eclipsed by her nipple popping out of her bustier, a moment that will live on forever in pop culture infamy.

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