The 11 most memorable Super Bowl halftime performances
Prince, Beyonce and Lady Gaga performing in past Super Bowl Halftime shows.
This year’s Super Bowl may kickoff at 6:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, but for some the true entertainment starts at halftime.
Since the very first Super Bowl in 1967, the championship football game has always included a halftime show. However, for decades the headliners were college marching bands, Disney characters and an Elvis impersonator.
It wasn’t until boy band New Kids on the Block took the stage in 1991 that fans started to see the mid-game break as a concert-like performance. Then, two years later, Michael Jackson raised the bar.
In the last 30 years, the Super Bowl halftime show has featured some of the hottest superstar performers including Prince, Beyonce and Lady Gaga. These jaw-dropping performances can even garner more attention than the game itself.
In fact, around 11% of consumers are planning to tune in just for the halftime show this year, according to data from Oracle. The computer technology company surveyed 2,000 respondents between Jan. 8 and Jan. 9 that planned to watch the Super Bowl and 17% said that their favorite part of the big game was the halftime show.
While the majority of the most memorable halftime moments stem from extraordinary spectacles of music and dance, the mid-game show has also been noted for some wild mishaps.
The Weeknd is set to headline Sunday’s performance at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, although little is known about his plans. He did tease that he could make use of the iconic pirate ship that is situated at one end of the stadium.
Here’s a look at 11 of the most memorable Super Bowl halftime moments:
1993 — Michael Jackson
The Prince of Pop’s performance at the 1993 Super Bowl has been lauded as one of the greatest halftime performances of all time. To kick off the show, Jackson appeared on two jumbotrons, springing up body doubles in a flash of sparks atop the massive screens to shattering applause.
A moment later, the real Jackson catapulted from the center of the stage and stood completely still and silent for nearly two minutes before removing his sunglasses and starting his performance. Jackson sang a medley of “Jam,” “Billie Jean” and “Black or White” while showcasing his iconic dance moves for the first part of his routine.
He finished with “Heal the World” surrounded by a choir of 3,500 local Los Angeles children while the audience held up cards that created the image of cartoon children from around the globe holding hands.
Jackson’s halftime show was a major success, marking the first time in Super Bowl history that the ratings increased between the two halves of the game. It also encouraged the National Football League to sign top musical acts to appear in future halftime shows.
Pop singer Michael Jackson performs during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXVII between the Dallas Cowboys and Buffalo Bills on January 31, 1993 at The Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California.
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2002 — U2
Irish rock band U2 was the headliner for the first Super Bowl to take place after the September 11 attacks in 2001. The rockers used their time on stage to pay tribute to those that were killed, projecting their names onto a vertical screen behind the stage while they sang.
U2’s setlist included “Beautiful Day,” “MLK” and “Where the Streets Have No Name.” At the end of the performance, lead singer Bono opened his jacket to reveal an American flag.
Bono, lead singer of U2, displays American flag lining in his jacket after singing “Where The Streets Have No Name,” during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVI in the Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana, February 3, 2002.
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2004 — Janet Jackson
Those that tuned into the live broadcast of the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show may have forgotten that Jessica Simpson kicked off the performance or that P. Diddy, Nelly and Kid Rock had musical cameos. Instead, the most memorable part of Janet Jackson’s mid-game production was an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction.
After Diddy, Nelly and Kid Rock finished their individual stints on stage, Jackson appeared alongside pop singer Justin Timberlake to perform “Rock Your Body.” Allegedly, the routine was supposed to end with Timberlake ripping a black piece of fabric from Jackson’s bodice to reveal a piece of red lingerie underneath. However, the garment collapsed, and Jackson’s breast was exposed.
Following the incident, the NFL announced that MTV, which had produced the halftime show, would not be involved in Super Bowl halftime shows in the future. YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim has credited the wardrobe malfunction for the creation of the video sharing website.
Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake perform at half-time at Super Bowl XXXVIII at Reliant Stadium, 01 February 2004 in Houston.
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2005 — Paul McCartney
After the events of the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, the NFL looked for a low-risk, but still wildly popular, musician to headline the performance. Thus, famed Beatle Paul McCartney was brought on.
McCartney sang “Drive My Car,” “Get Back” and “Live and Let Die” before engaging the crowd in a thunderous rendition of “Hey Jude.”
Paul McCartney performs during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville, Fla, on Feb.6, 2005 at ALLTEL Stadium.
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2007 — Prince
A little rain doesn’t deter the great and powerful Prince.
In the 40-year history of the Super Bowl, it had never rained during a halftime performance. It is reported that Prince reveled in the weather, with producers saying Prince asked them to “make it rain harder.”
There was potential hazard due to the downpour, as the material on the stage was known to get slippery when wet and Prince and his dancers were all wearing high-healed shoes. Additionally, the musician had four separate electric guitars that he planned to use during the performance.
Prince started his set singing “Let’s Go Crazy” before transitioning into a mash-up of “Baby I’m a Star” and “1999.” He then sang bits of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Proud Mary,” Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” and The Foo Fighters’ “Best of You.”
He capped off his performance with “Purple Rain,” basking in the deluge.
Prince performs at half time during Super Bowl XLI between the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears at Dolphins Stadium in Miami, Florida on February 4, 2007. (Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage)
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2009 — Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
In 2009, Bruce Springsteen asked viewers at home to step back from their guacamole and put down their chicken tenders while he and the E Street Band performed their halftime routine.
Springsteen was a musician that the NFL had spent years courting and there was a lot of excitement when he finally agreed to participate during the mid-game celebrations. The band played “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out,” “Born to Run,” “Working on a Dream” and “Glory Days.”
However, the performance might be most well-known for the moment when Springsteen did a power slide that put him on a crotch-first collision course with a cameraman and all the viewers at home.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band perform at the Bridgestone halftime show during Super Bowl XLIII between the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.
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2013 — Beyonce
With a nine-song medley, choreographed dance routines and sky-high flames, Beyonce set the gold standard for a Super Bowl show in the modern era.
She even reunited Destiny’s Child for her performance, bringing former bandmates Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams to the stage to sing “Independent Women” and “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).”
After closing with “Halo,” the lights at the New Orleans’ Mercedes-Benz Superdome went out, delaying the second half of the game. However, officials have said that the halftime show was not the cause.
“Why would you ever have a Super Bowl without Beyonce?” Rob Sheffield wrote in his review of the singer’s performance for Rolling Stone. “Now that was a halftime show, and that is a star … No special guests, no costume changes – just Beyonce.”
Kelly Rowland, Beyonce Knowles and Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child perform during the Pepsi Super Bowl XLVII Halftime Show at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on February 3, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
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2015 — Katy Perry
As if entering that University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona atop a massive golden mechanical lion wasn’t enough, Katy Perry wowed viewers with musical guests Lenny Kravitz and Missy Elliott and plenty of pyrotechnics.
The pop star performed nine songs including “Roar,” “California Girls” and “I Kissed a Girl.” Perhaps more iconic than Perry’s brightly colored costumes was a background dancer dubbed “Left Shark.”
Perry was flanked by two dancers dressed in shark costumes during part of her performance. The shark on stage left was off beat and out of sync with the shark on the right and quickly became an internet sensation. The choreographer for the performance said the dancers were not given specific moves to perform and were told to just mimic whatever Perry did, leading to the authentic moment.
The finale of Perry’s performance also went viral. The singer appeared on a flying star to sing “Firework.” The set piece resembled the former logo of NBC’s PSA program “The More You Know” and became a popular meme.
Perry’s halftime show was watched by more viewers than the game itself and won two Emmy Awards.
Recording artist Katy Perry performs onstage during the Pepsi Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show at University of Phoenix Stadium on February 1, 2015 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
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2016 — Coldplay
Coldplay may have technically been the headliner of the 50th Super Bowl halftime show, but the British band was hardly the star. That honor was held by Beyonce and Bruno Mars.
Front man Chris Martin opened the show with the chorus from “Yellow” before singing a medley of Coldplay hits including “Viva la Vida” and “Paradise.” However, it was only after a record scratch that the performance kicked into high gear.
Bruno Mars appeared on stage with a troupe of backup dancers to perform “Uptown Funk.” He was countered by Beyonce, who arrived in bodysuit reminiscent of Jackson’s from 1993 to sing “Formation” with her own army of dancers. The two parties of dancers then marched toward each other, facing off center stage.
Martin then rejoined the pair and they finished off the performance with “Up&Up” and the closing lyrics to “A Head Full of Dreams.”
(L-R) Beyonce, Chris Martin of Coldplay and Bruno Mars perform onstage during the Pepsi Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show at Levi’s Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage)
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2017 — Lady Gaga
The opening to Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl performance in 2017 may have been prerecorded, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the pop singer did actually repel from the ceiling of the NRG Stadium in Houston.
Clever editing mashed up Gaga’s pre-recorded drop with her flight from the middle of the stadium to the stage. She did not use a stunt double. Atop a tall pillar on the stage, the musician performed “Poker Face” while fireworks lit up behind her. She transitioned to the ground to sing “Born This Way” and “Telephone.”
Lady Gaga showed off her talent with instruments, too, wielding a keytar for “Just Dance” and setting up at a piano for “Million Reasons.”
For the finale, she donned a football pad-inspired costume while singing “Bad Romance.” She ended the performance by jumping off the stage and catching a glittering football while fireworks erupted overhead.
Lady Gaga performs during the Pepsi Zero Sugar Super Bowl 51 Halftime Show at NRG Stadium on February 5, 2017 in Houston, Texas.
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2020 — Shakira & Jennifer Lopez
For the 54th Super Bowl, which took place in Miami, the NFL tapped Latina superstars Shakira and Jennifer Lopez to headline the halftime show.
Shakira took the first third of the performance to sing a medley of hits: “Dare (La La La),” “She Wolf” “Empire,” “Ojos Asi,” “Whenever, Wherever,” “I Like It,” “Chantaje” and “Hips Don’t Lie.” She danced throughout her performance, showcasing her iconic moves.
She passed the reins over to Lopez, who took fans through her hit list: “Jenny from the Block,” “Ain’t It Funny,” “Get Right,” “Waiting for Tonight,” “Booty,” “Que Calor,” “El Anillo,” “Love Don’t Cost a Thing,” “Mi Gente” and “On the Floor.” Lopez showcased the talents she learned for her role in the film “Hustlers” by doing part of her routine using a pole.
Shakira and Lopez shared the stage for the final act of the performance, singing “Let’s Get Loud” and “Waka Waka.”
Jon Pareles of the New York Times said the show was “a no-nonsense affirmation of Latin pride and cultural diversity in a political climate where immigrants and American Latinos have been widely demonized.”
The performance came at a time when many were highly critical of then-President Donald Trump’s immigration policies and the incarceration of migrant children.
Pareles called Shakira and Lopez “Latina superwomen, smiling pop conquistadoras backed by phalanxes of dancers.”
“This halftime show was euphoria with a purpose,” he said.
Shakira and Jennifer Lopez perform onstage during the Pepsi Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show at Hard Rock Stadium on February 02, 2020 in Miami, Florida.
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Disclosure: Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal and CNBC.