Top 10 Super Bowl Halftime Shows of All Times

There are a couple of things that every NFL finale is associated with – food, football and music. The first point about food is definitely achieved, as the Super Bowl Sunday is estimated to be the second ranked day of most food consumption in the US every year, right behind Thanksgiving.

As for football, professional players, coaches and accompanying team ensure that each viewer is pleased with the level of gameplay, tactics and results during the entire season.

Actually, the Super Bowl is just a culmination of all the hard work, excellent field performance and talent mixed together on the football field.

The third element of this finale is music, or more specifically, the grand show during halftime that features the most popular and widely recognized musicians worldwide.

Popular music stars first took over the Super Bowl field in 1991, when this tradition was first established. The musicians to go on stage back then were New Kids on the Block, the pop group that marked the transition from marching bands, trumpets and a traditional défilé across the field to a musical spectacle of mass proportions. For this purpose, it became customary for performers to make use of pyrotechnics, fire-throwers, special effects and all kinds of other constructions and contraptions that would make their time on that stage memorable.

However, not all performers are remembered for their shine on the field, as some barely managed to provide a sparkle. Some stars such as Shania Twain and The Black Eyed Peas failed to deliver what the crowd expected, but a much larger portion of the halftime showmen and women did provide an unforgettable experience. No matter whether emphasis was placed on vocal capabilities or on-stage props and performances, the following 10 halftime shows have managed to earn their praises.

  1. Coldplay feat. Beyoncé & Bruno Mars
  2. You might wonder why this performance got the last spot in our countdown, even though the standing ovations pretty clearly confirmed its excellence. You should know that the British group Coldplay was supposed to be the lead stars of this halftime, but their thunder got completely stolen by Super Bowl veterans Beyoncé and Bruno Mars, who had already performed for this occasion previous years.

    While this may seem justifiable, Coldplay are to blame for not preparing something that would put the focus where it belongs – on them. It’s good enough that they did render excellent entertainment (as a trio) and earned a spot on the countdown.

  3. Bruno Mars feat. Red Hot Chili Peppers
  4. Back in 2014, Bruno Mars made his initial appearance alongside the Red Hot Chili Peppers on the greatest stage in the US. Straight from the Met Life Stadium in NJ, Bruno Mars affirmed his success straight from the start with a drum beat that resonated throughout the rest of the show. With booming support from the RHCP and an even greater finish, there is enough proof that Bruno should not have ruined his good impression by performing once again, two years later.

    The only reason why this performance is so far down on this top-10 ranking is the fact that many others manage to outshine it. So if you thought this was awesome, wait ‘till you see who’s number one!

  5. Madonna feat. Nicky Minaj, LMFAO, M.I.A & Cee Lo Green
  6. There is a good explanation why Madonna only made it this far up our list. On the one hand, she managed to offer an astonishing performance to all her fans and Super Bowl viewers that fits the profile of a confirmed diva. In an iconic entrance that confirmed her pop queen status, she performed an excellent selection of hits that fit right in the atmosphere of the game.

    What seemed a bit off during this Super Bowl halftime show is the mixture of artists – one does not expect to see Madonna roughing it out alongside LMFAO. There is nothing to do with underestimating artists, but everything to do with mixing styles and genres that are supposed to stay apart.

  7. Katy Perry feat. Lenny Kravitz
  8. As much as people hated the whole tropical island theme, dancing bananas and palm trees, Katy Perry ultimately did put on a good show. She danced her shoes off in order to keep up with the beat and motivate others to do the same, while Kravitz used his mad skills to appeal to those less inclined to listen to Perry’s shrieking vocal cords and more inclined to the guitar’s tunes.

  9. Janet Jackson feat. Justin Timberlake
  10. There are two major reasons why the King of Pop’s younger sister only made it to sixth place, even though she was accompanied by Timberlake. Despite the fact that he was such a catch at that moment, people left that Super Bowl with a completely other thing on their minds – Janet’s ‘wardrobe malfunction’. Hence, the first major reason for the ranking, while the second seems fairly obvious, the performers left to fill the top 5 spots are all first-place material.

  11. Stevie Wonder feat. Gloria Estefan & Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
  12. Pessimists considered this trio as too eccentric to work, but in the end, it turned out better than a fine tuned choir could. The miraculous tones of Wonder and Estefan’s live vocal performance were complemented by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s sounds and an array of salsa dancers to keep things moving. With major stars such as these, there is no room for disaster.

  13. Michael Jackson
  14. A perfect combination of corny and stylish, musical capacity and stage performance emerged at the 1993 Super Bowl halftime as Michael Jackson provided some of the best entertainment spectacles ever.

    In perfect agreement with his general style, the show focused solely on the star, and he even managed to draw further attention by using entire Jumbotrons that ‘popped out’ Michael Jackson figures for cinematic effect. The poses he held, the posture he had and the music he provided rightfully earned his place among Super Bowl legendary showmen.

  15. Beyoncé feat. Destiny’s Child/Coldplay & Bruno Mars
  16. Queen Bey has a couple of stage appearances in her lengthy resume when it comes to the Super Bowl. Not only did she choose to sing the anthem back in 2013 and get a minor part in the festivities, she even used this opportunity to revive Destiny’s Child, the starting point of her brilliant career.

    Her second appearance as a supporting performer seemed as if she was completely in charge of the festivities. If you did not get that impression while singing alongside her fellow artists, there was enough proof in her short preview of the then-released single Formation. Not only did it steal the show, it helped Beyoncé convey a message of racial and political importance.

  17. U2
  18. You could say that the ranking got mixed up when it got to places 2 and 3, but there is not much importance once you are so close to the best. Plus, there is some assonance in the double two’s, and since music is the topic here, this small tribute is just fitting.

    U2’s appearance on the Super Bowl halftime came right after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Centre. With millions of people still hurting from the loss and emptiness it left behind, there was no better choice than Bono and his emotional rendering of “A Beautiful Day”, “MLK” and “Where the Streets Have No Name”. In order to achieve an even stronger effect but at the same time cure the pain, a huge black screen started listing the names of the deceased during the catastrophe – the WTC employees, plane passengers, policemen and fire fighters alike.

  19. Prince
  20. There are not many people or artists who could beat the power of Bey’s statements and Bono’s emotions, but that’s exactly why only one is placed ahead of them. Multiple ranking charts and major ratings confirm what most of us already know – the greatest Super Bowl halftime show was put on by no other than Prince, back in 2007 during SB XLI.

    From the moment he appeared with one of his own songs, through the covers he did on some of the greatest hits, Prince’s performance left big shoes for the other artists to fill. Even over a decade later, his work still manages to climb the lists and break records all over the world.

As you can see, there is so much more to the Super Bowl than just football. It is in fact an entertainment industry in its entirety, appealing to the tastes of people worldwide. Still, it only comes once a year, and there is nothing for you to do than wait and see who will be the following finalists to oppose each other while another megastar sings their hits from the top of their lungs.