The Super Bowl Halftime Show hasn’t always been a big deal. It originally started off showcasing college marching bands, drill teams and performance ensembles before becoming, in the modern era, it grew to feature popular music acts.
You know the person at your Super Bowl party who’s all, ‘I’m just watching to see the commercials.’? They’re also probably watching to see the halftime show. When the Denver Broncos take on the Carolina Panthers, a ton of people will be stuffing their faces with wings and chips while counting down the minutes to see Coldplay perform with a star-studded guest lineup of Bruno Mars, Rihanna and Beyonce. But will this year’s performance live up to the best halftime shows of all-time?
If you’re a millennial, you probably jumped up and down in your pajamas while watching ‘N Sync take the stage with Aerosmith. If you’re a baby boomer, you probably dad-rocked and got mom-excited while Bruce Springsteen did a knee-slide across the stage and crashed into a cameraman. But whatever your age, your bound to have differing opinions on which halftime show was the best and luckily for you, SiriusXM has got you covered. Here’s a look at the top 10 Super Bowl halftime shows ever:
(Editor’s note: This list was compiled by a millenial, so it’s understandable if you completely disagree with this list in its entirety.)
Honorable Mention: Whitney Houston, Super Bowl XXV, 1991
The only reason this isn’t in the top-10 is because it occurred during the pregame ceremony instead of during halftime. Whitney Houston started the show on a high note with a rousing rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner backed by The Florida Orchestra. At the time, America was involved in the Gulf War and Houston’s performance received so much adulation that it was released as a single and a video, reaching number 20 on the Billboard Hot 100. Houston’s performance is widely considered one of the best renditions of the national anthem in history.
10. Aerosmith, ‘N Sync, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige and Nelly, Super Bowl XXXV, 2001
Combining rock, pop and hip-hop, Aerosmith headlined the 2001 halftime and, man, did they have a diverse group of special guests. The show was preceded by a hilarious skit that included Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler and Chris Rock. While worlds collided during the actual musical performance when ‘N Sync, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige and Nelly all joined Aerosmith for a performance of Walk This Way.
9. Janet Jackson, P. Diddy, Nelly, Kid Rock, and Justin Timberlake, Super Bowl XXVIII, 2004
The 2004 halftime show, which just so happens to be the last time the Panthers were in a Super Bowl, will forever be remembered for “Nipplegate.” But people tend to forget that before Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction,” an amazing performance was put on with a medley of hit songs across multiple genres. Thanks to Justin Timberlake this will go down as the last halftime show to feature completely bad-ass performances, as the $550,000 fine from the FCC that CBS had to absorb has forced networks to book more conservative acts.
8. The Rolling Stones, Super Bowl XL, 2006
Backed by an elaborate stage design in the shape of the band’s trademark tongue logo, The Rolling Stones turned back the clock and rocked out. Mick Jagger was strutting like he had no age and the Stones captivated the audience while performing just three songs: Start Me Up, Rough Justice and Satisfaction. This was the first time a network introduced a tape-delay in a halftime show, as ABC imposed a five-second delay on the performance and censors cut lines from two of the songs.
7. Diana Ross, Super Bowl XXX, 1996
Legendary diva Diana Ross floated down to the stage with fire beneath her feet. Performing an incredible medley of hits, Ross was backed with a ton of pyrotechnics, special effects and stunts. At the end of her performance, she left the field in a helicopter. Diana Ross? More like Diana BOSS, amiright?!
6. Katy Perry, Super Bowl XLIX, 2015
Two words: Left. Shark. Nothing captured the zeitgeist nature of a Super Bowl halftime show more than last year’s unforgettable-for-all-the-wrong reasons Left Shark (who was just doing their best, OK?). Lost in the social media mania surrounding Left Shark was a straight-up fire performance by none other than Missy Elliot who turned things up when she performed a medley of hits like Get Ur Freak On and Work It. Oh, and Katy Perry was pretty awesome, too.
5. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Super Bowl XLIII, 2009
After turning down numerous invitations to play at the Super Bowl, Bruce Springsteen finally gave in and took the stage in 2009. Springsteen brought the energy performing hits like Born to Run and Glory Days, which probably ignited the old folks who were at your Super Bowl party. His knee-slide into the camera gave the millenials their ‘LOL’ moment of the night.
4. U2, Super Bowl XXXVI, 2002
Five months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, U2 performed a moving tribute to America and the victims of 9/11. Starting with Beautiful Day and MLK, the Irish band ended with a roaring rendition of Where the Streets Have No Name as the names of the victims were projected on a backdrop. At the end of the performance, lead singer Bono opened his jacket to reveal the American flag printed into the lining.
3. Beyonce, Super Bowl XLVII, 2013
The Queen took the stage in 2013 and it was absolutely awesome. Beyonce commanded the stage with performances of hit songs like Crazy in Love and Baby Boy, and then brought out Destiny’s Child groupmates Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams for a reunion that probably had your entire Super Bowl party screaming and jumping up and down on your couches. At the time, the 110 million viewers was the second-most watched halftime show in Super Bowl history.
2. Prince, Super Bowl XLI, 2007
The artist formerly (and currently) known as Prince put on an energetic performance of hits like Let’s Go Crazy and Baby I’m a Star. But he brought the house down with a closing performance of Purple Rain, in the rain! It is arguably the best closing to a halftime show ever. Unfortunately, thanks to Prince’s hypersensitivity to piracy, no video exists of this performance.
1. Michael Jackson, Super Bowl XXVII, 1993
The King of Pop takes the top spot with his 1993 performance at the Rose Bowl. Standing still and staring at the audience for a full 90 seconds before taking off his sunglasses and jumping right into Jam? Epic! After performing Billie Jean and Black or White, Jackson closed the set with a powerful performance of Heal the World. This show marked the true beginning of the Super Bowl Halftime Show.