While the NFL is the most popular sport in America, many of the millions who tune into the Super Bowl are only in it for the halftime show.
The National Football League is the most popular sports league in the United States. But, as many know, American Football is not exactly the biggest sport in the world. And yet, millions and millions of viewers tune into the Super Bowl every year. It is a global phenomenon. But, the truth is, many of these millions of watchers who tune into the Super Bowl are only in it for the halftime show. This is totally valid, by the way, because the NFL has done an incredible job in turning one sporting event into an entire worldwide spectacle that is usually absolutely unmissable.
With the league bringing in artists to entertain the audience during halftime, and after decades of performances, the Super Bowl has a long history of big-name performers.
These are nine of the most memorable halftime shows.
9. Coldplay, Beyoncé, Bruno Mars (2016)
Coldplay was the headliner for the Super Bowl halftime show in 2016, and this was exciting enough. The band’s iconic technicolor displays at their shows were a perfect match for the majestic nature of the Super Bowl. But when they pulled out Bruno Mars with Uptown Funk! and Beyoncé with Formation, in all honesty, most of us probably forgot that 2016 didn’t actually have a triple-headliner.
Coldplay indeed let the two other artists steal the show. But, it made for one of the most memorable Super Bowl halftime performances.
8. Jennifer Lopez & Shakira (2020)
The 2020 halftime show was simply stunning — a celebration of Latin culture by two powerhouse women.
Jennifer Lopez and Shakira certainly put on a show with their medley of hits including Hips Don’t Lie and Let’s Get Loud. We know all the ladies in the audience (and those watching from home) couldn’t resist the urge to dance.
But apart from their hits, there were just too many jaw-dropping moments, like J.Lo’s pole dancing and Shakira’s iconic hip-shaking. Watching them onstage, it was hard to believe these two were no longer in their twenties.
7. Lady Gaga (2017)
When Lady Gaga entered the show with a medley of God Bless America and This is Your Land, we already knew her performance was going to be another one of the iconic Super Bowl halftime performances.
Of course, her hits like Poker Face and Born This Way get the crowd dancing and singing. But apart from that, the visuals she brought to the show were nothing short of sensational. With how she jumped off the roof at the start and her radiant costume, it was a true spectacle.
We almost forgot we were supposed to be watching an NFL game.
6. Madonna (2012)
Madonna is as iconic as they come. And her 2012 Super Bowl performance was proof of her timelessness as an artist.
Even with her classic hits like Vogue and Like a Prayer, she brought a brand new flavor to the Super Bowl stage. She even brought along Nicki Minaj, M.I.A., Ceelo Green, and LMFAO into her performance. It will be difficult to forget how she mashed up her 2000 hit Music with LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem and Sexy and I Know it.
5. Beyoncé (2013)
While she stole Coldplay’s show in 2016, three years before that, Beyoncé headlined one of the best Super Bowl halftime performances herself.
Opening the show with her hits such as Crazy in Love, all the way down to her finale, belting the words to Halo with the entire crowd. But the part that had us all in gasps was when she brought out her former bandmates from Destiny’s Child to sing Single Ladies with her. And, with only women performers on the stage, the entire show sent an awe-inspiring message to the crowd.
4. Katy Perry (2015)
We all remember the iconic left shark from Katy Perry’s show in 2015. Need we say more?
There were too many memes that were created after this, making it one of the most memorable Super Bowl halftime performances ever. The superstar put on 12 minutes of vibrant colors, special effects, and eccentric characters dancing alongside her onstage. Plus, when Missy Elliott entered the picture to join Katy Perry to sing Work It and Get Ur Freak On? That just closed the deal on an already amazing performance.
3. U2 (2002)
U2’s 2002 Super Bowl halftime show struck a cord in the hearts of everyone who watched, and their performance will long be remembered and will be a true representation of the band’s influence. Opening with their hit song Beautiful Day was already enough to bring goosebumps throughout the entire stadium. But the part that people remember most was the band’s tribute to the 9/11 victims.
As they performed Where the Streets Have No Name, the backdrop behind them displays all the names of the victims of the attack. Bono closed the show to reveal the stars and stripes within the lining of his jacket — a strong message that reverberates even over twenty years later.
2. Michael Jackson (1993)
Michael Jackson was the first star to ever grace the stage of the Super Bowl halftime show, replacing the usual marching bands of previous years.
Singing songs from his ever-iconic catalog, he got people dancing and singing to Billie Jean, and he brought his moonwalk to the NFL stage. And to close the show, he performed We Are The World and Heal The World, with a giant globe in the middle of the stage.
It was a show that stunned the entire crowd. Now, the rest is history.
1. Prince (2007)
You just had to know that Prince’s 2007 performance was going to be here up at first. It’s the one that people will never stop talking about. With his mashups using Bob Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower with Queen’s hit We Will Rock You, it was an unexpected mix of everything there is to love about musical performances.
But of course, we can’t go without mentioning the best part of it all: his closing performance of Purple Rain, which became all the more famous after his death in 2016. Nature even pulled a few strings to seal in the best halftime show ever, giving Prince a shower of rain for that extra drama in his guitar solo. That’s a tough image to forget.
Which of these Super Bowl halftime performances was your favorite?