Most Memorable Halftime Shows

The Super Bowl Halftime Show has become as big of a draw as the game itself. It’s considered a milestone for a musician – to be invited to perform before millions of people during the biggest game of the year means you’ve arrived! 

So we thought we’d look back at some of the more memorable halftime performances – starting with the one that truly changed the game forever!

1993: Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson
Jan 31, 1993; Pasadena, CA, USA; FILE PHOTO; Recording artist Michael Jackson performs during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXVII at the Rose Bowl. The Dallas Cowboys defeated the Buffalo Bills 52-17. Mandatory Credit: Peter Brouillet-USA TODAY Sports

Before the King of Pop performed in 1993, the halftime show was just kinda cute and fun. Past shows included a salute to the Winter Olympics with Dorothy Hamill and a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Peanuts cartoon. But in 1993, MJ took the stage and did a medley of his hits, including “Jam,” “Billie Jean,” and “Black or White.” Then, “We Are the World” as the crowd turned over cards revealing drawings by children. The finale was “Heal the World,” surrounded by 3,500 children with a blow-up globe on the field. This performance changed everything for the Super Bowl halftime show.

2002: U2

U2 at Super Bowl (YouTube)
U2 at Super Bowl (YouTube)

This was right after 9/11 and U2 performed on a heart-shaped stage. When they got to “Where the Streets Have No Name,” a scrolling backdrop featured the names of those lost in the terror attacks. Somehow, the performance was strong, fun, and emotional all at the same time.

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

Janet Jackson & Justin Timberlake
Feb 1, 2004; Houston, TX, USA; FILE PHOTO; Justin Timberlake (left) and Janet Jackson (right) perform during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII at Reliant Stadium. The New England Patriots defeated the Carolina Panthers 32-29. Mandatory Credit: MPS-USA TODAY Sports

This was the year of the infamous ‘wardrobe malfunction’ and the ensuing ‘Nipplegate.’ But before those last two seconds, when Timberlake ripped off part of Jackson’s costume and exposed her breast, it was actually a pretty great show! The setlist included “All for You,” “Hot in Herre,” “Mo Money Mo Problems,” “Rhythm Nation,” and “Rock Your Body.”

2005: Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney
Feb 06, 2005; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Paul McCartney performs at half time of Super Bowl XXXIX between the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots at Alltel Stadium. The Patriots defeated the Eagles 24-21. Mandatory Credit: USA TODAY Sports

After the debacle at the end of the 2004 halftime show, how could you go wrong with a Beatle? The answer – it’s impossible. McCartney put on a great show, with “Drive My Car,” “Get Back,” and “Live and Let Die.” The finale was “Hey Jude” and all 84,000 fans in Jacksonville joined in!

2007: Prince

Feb 4, 2007; Miami, FL, USA; FILE PHOTO: Recording artist Prince performs at halftime during Super Bowl XLI between the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears at Dolphin Stadium. Mandatory credit: David Kadlubowski-USA TODAY Network

You could have not produced a better moment than what happened in 2007 in Miami. Every single football fan in Dolphin Stadium belting out “Purple Rain” during an actual rainstorm! It was the finale to an incredible show of Prince’s pure musicality.

That’s our Top 5 from the past… we can also mention Madonna in 2012, Beyonce in 2013, Katy Perry in 2015, and many others in more recent years.

Check out the full list of halftime performers over the years here! 

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