Football fans might not realize it, however, loads of Americans solely attend Super Bowl events for seven-layer dip, liberal ingesting, and the nationally televised pop concert in any other case generally known as the Super Bowl halftime show. For decades, the present would merely feature a school marching band or two, with a performance by Andy Williams or Up With Folks tossed in for good measure, but that all changed in 1993. That’s the yr when Michael Jackson turned the Tremendous Bowl halftime show into must-watch tv.
In the decades since Jackson created the halftime present as we all know it, the Super Bowl has run by means of remarkably different eras of performance — the MTV years, Janet Jackson’s Nipplegate, and the classic-rock revival of the late aughts — but custom and function unite all of them. The mode has all the time been pastiche, combining disparate parts right into a cohesive entire that celebrates American tradition and Zeitgeist.
Forward, Vulture ranks all the Tremendous Bowl halftime shows since 1993, from worst to best, including The Weeknd’s from this past Sunday’s Super Bowl LV.
29. Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, and Toni Braxton (2000)
The first thing you need to understand about this halftime present: Disney owns ABC, so they determined to hijack 12 minutes of America’s time for a huge commercial for some Cirque du Soleil rip-off known as the “Disney Millenium Performance.” There were a bunch of puppets and people in crazy costumes, which was kind of cool, but all of them looked like robotic overlords from a machine future that was obsessive about New Age therapeutic and wheatgrass photographs. To make it even worse, every performer sang an authentic tune, so the viewers didn’t acknowledge any of it. I might have given anything to listen to “Sussudio” — as an alternative, we got Phil Collins in a backward Kangol hat and the world’s saddest cargo pants, singing something called “Two Worlds.” Oh, and Edward James Olmos saved coming out to offer weird narration like, “As it does each thousand years, the gateway of time has opened as soon as again to give us hope.” Thanks, but no thanks.
28. Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt, and The Judds (1994)
There is nothing sadder than a country spectacular, especially when probably the most imaginative performance out there is a horde of people dressed as cowboys and cowgirls. Positive, it’s a well-liked style, but an enormous chunk of the audience had no clue what “Tuckered Out” or “It’s a Little Too Late” was, or why they needed to care about bland smiling ladies in 10-gallon hats. To make it worse, the individuals on the sphere appeared to be transferring round carrying fluorescent mild bulbs. This was a halftime present to forget.
27. Maroon 5, Travis Scott, Big Boi (2019).
Maroon 5’s halftime show was exactly like all of Maroon 5’s music: so protected and antiseptic that you simply hardly remember it’s there till you’re watching a Tremendous Bowl halftime present and also you notice you know every single one of many songs and also you need to crack your self over the pinnacle with the Rock Band guitar gathering mud in your closet. There was nearly no acknowledgment on this set that it was taking place on the most important annual stage in America.
We got a few lame pyrotechnics, almost totally female viewers gathered across the stage leaping and clamoring for Adam Levine like they were paid to, a SpongeBob SquarePants introduction, and performances by Travis Scott and Atlanta’s own Huge Boi shoehorned in between a few of Levine’s crooning. The whiplash between these artists was enough to give viewers a concussion disorder. In a yr when no one wanted to perform at the halftime show, this was the best the NFL may do, a firework that extinguished itself mid-flight.
26. The Rolling Stones (2006)
There are two notable issues about this performance: (1) The Rolling Stones performed on a stage formed just like the band’s lips-and-tongue emblem, and (2) the individuals of Detroit, the place that yr’s recreation was performed, were pissed as a result of no Motown artist was requested to carry out. Additionally, the Stones solely did three songs. Three. And one of them was their newest single, “Tough Justice.” A be aware of the Rolling Stones: Nobody wants to listen to the brand new stuff, particularly on the Super Bowl.
25. Dan Aykroyd, John Goodman, James Belushi, ZZ High, and James Brown (1997)
Since the recreation was in New Orleans, I suppose the theme made sense. What didn’t was letting Jim Belushi sing “Soul Man” and “Gimme Some Lovin’.” Sure, they let Jim Belushi sing. It was like watching your uncle do karaoke, besides there have been tons of ladies in tiny outfits gyrating everywhere whereas a marching band spelled out words on the sphere and pyrotechnics exploded into the abyss. Then ZZ High performed “Legs” whereas the dancers laid on their backs and, um, confirmed off their legs. Even with James Brown, this halftime present needed a complete lot extra of one thing. Anything, actually.
24. Gloria Estefan, Stevie Wonder, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (1999)
Yes, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy played the Tremendous Bowl and we will by no means be able to take that away from them. However whereas pastiche is the easiest way to create an important halftime present, this one was simply too much. They threw a bunch of stuff on the wall, then all of it caught and stayed there for a couple of weeks and acquired moldy. Gloria Estefan killed it, after all, and Stevie Surprise was nice, but the sound combine was off the entire time. Two all-time greats wasted on a spectacle that was absolutely hole at its core.
23. Justin Timberlake (2018)
Justin Timberlake is a former member of NSYNC, husband to Jessica Biel, the ex-boyfriend of Britney Spears, tour mate of Christina Aguilera, and the co-Emmy winner (for “Dick in a Field”) with Andy Samberg. He couldn’t enlist the help of any of these individuals to enliven what was the most boring Super Bowl halftime show of the modern era? As a substitute, we acquired a projection of Prince on an enormous sheet whereas Timberlake sang “I Would Die 4 U.” It was actually a reminder of the Purple One’s iconic halftime performance — and in his hometown, no much less — however otherwise this was a boring, ill-conceived, and muddled performance.
It began with Timberlake singing beneath the stadium in what felt like a small membership present, but even when he got here onto the primary stage, it nonetheless had the same feeling. The Tremendous Bowl shouldn’t be the time for intimate numbers. It’s a time for spectacle and Justin left it (and all of his well-known associates) at residence. Girl Gaga jumped off the roof! Katy Perry rode in on an enormous lion! Beyoncé shot Kelly and Michelle by means of the ground to sing “Single Girls!” Justin Timberlake simply roamed around aimlessly after which played the piano whereas carrying an outfit that seemed prefer it may double as a billboard for discount hunting retailer. What a horrible way to break #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay.
22. The Who (2010)
There were lasers and a few singing. There was a trustworthy model of “Baba O’Riley” and different songs utilized by CBS procedurals. I assume the stage was kinda cool. Blah.
21. Shania Twain, No Doubt, and Sting (2003)
Was this a halftime show or a playlist for a really brief automobile journey? Shania did “Man! I Really feel Like a Girl” without even one backup dancer or costume change. Next, Gwen Stefani carried out “Only a Lady” along with her backing band. There was no larger whiplash between two bands within the history of the Tremendous Bowl. Lastly, Sting appeared and Stefani joined him for “Message in a Bottle.” That’s it. Finito. The one flourishes have been the punk-rock cheerleaders leaping on trampolines, and even that came about seven minutes into the show. Yawn.
20. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (2008)
Tom Petty is one of our nation’s biggest underappreciated property. Of all of the acts to stand up and play the primary 4 songs off their greatest-hits album, Petty’s — “American Lady,” “I Received’t Again Down,” “Free Fallin,’” and “Runnin’ Down a Dream” — are maybe the most stable all through. However, man, couldn’t he have at least enlisted a couple of dancers to liven issues up?
19. Paul McCartney (2005)
This was America’s punishment for Janet Jackson’s nipple: an old white dude standing in the midst of an LED stage, taking part in the guitar by himself. This present was safer than having intercourse in a panic room with three condoms and your entire clothes on. There’s no denying McCartney’s brilliance, but he simply ran by means of “Drive My Automobile,” “Get Again,” “Stay and Let Die,” and “Hey Jude” with no interruption or embellishment that could probably shock or offend the very fragile American sensibility. However hey, at least there was an LED stage!
It began with babies holding fingers in front of American flags and ended with troopers dedicating “Simply the Method You Are” to their households. 9 out of ten dentists say that is sufficient saccharine to present each American spontaneous cavities. Mars did a reliable job, however a yr after Beyoncé made a political assertion with her all-female performance, Mars reverted again to the usual by filling the stage with a bunch of dudes, together with Red Hot Chili Peppers. It was uninspired, plus it didn’t look like Mars had achieved Super Bowl headliner status.
17. U2 (2002)
What we needed was Bruce Springsteen and what we acquired was an Irishman yelling “America!” in front of an enormous banner printed with the names of everybody who died within the 9/11 assaults. The U2 performance was a simple and pared-down affair, which appeared becoming for the zeitgeist, but nonetheless, it was unusual to hear what sounded like cheering as Bono sang “Where the Streets Have No Names” and the nation mourned.
16. The Weeknd (2021)
Before the large day, my mom said to me, “They hold speaking about the halftime present and saying ‘This Weekend’ however they haven’t mentioned who the performer is.” The Weeknd got to show my mom and the nation he has more hits than you realize and is immensely gifted. But in this coronavirus-infested world, we’ll by no means know if his somewhat sleepy mini-concert was resulting from a lack of imagination or COVID restrictions. For many of his 12 minutes, he simply stood in the same red sparkly jacket singing in front of risers full of musicians and backup singers. Two songs in, he ventured under the set with a jittery handheld digicam right into a glittering maze for “Can’t Really feel My Face” and it appeared like issues were lastly entering into a unique course, however,
then he was proper again in entrance of the risers with no choreography in any respect. It took till the ten-minute mark when he was joined on the sphere itself by legions of dancers in tight formation (or was it the designated six-feet separation?) for the Weeknd’s first costume change into… one other crimson sparkly jacket. This was a performance that dragged and one fully without the pastiche or spectacle that we’ve come to count on from the halftime present. However, alternatively, my mother now knows who the Weeknd is, so the mission accomplished.
15. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (2009)
Throughout the sad period of getting old rockers playing their biggest hits without flourish or interruption, Springsteen was the one who appeared to have some fun. “I need you to step away from the guacamole dip! I need you to place the hen wings down and switch your tv all the best way up!” he advised the viewers as his set began. Springsteen is one of the American masters — why he didn’t play the post-9/11 halftime present, I’ll by no means know — and “tenth Avenue Freeze-Out,” “Born to Run,” “Working on a Dream,” and “Glory Days” are all certifiable jams. Nonetheless, there wasn’t anything you couldn’t get right here from one of the Boss’s concert events, so he falls a few spots.
14. Boys II Men, Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves, the Temptations, and Queen Latifah (1998)
This might have been staid have a look at an older style of music, however then Latifah and Boyz II Men got here in and injected some youthful power into what otherwise seemed like a really skilled high-school expertise present. Boyz II Men disappointed by using most of their time on stage for their new single “A Music for Mama,” which is soundly terrible. Fortunately for Martha Reeves, whose singing seemed like a squirrel was humping her larynx during “Heat Wave,” Twitter didn’t exist again in 1998 or there would have been a complete lot of Left Sharking concerning the sound. Nonetheless, this was wholesome family fun for all ages.
13. Patti Labelle, Tony Bennett, Arturo Sandoval, Teddy Pendergrass, and Miami Sound Machine (1995)
This was less of a halftime show and extra of a Stefon SNL skit. It had cobras taking part in drums, peasants making choices to the gods, Indiana Jones flying on a parachute, a Satanic ritual involving the Tremendous Bowl trophy, people on stilts, Patti LaBelle dressed as a demonic sequin goddess, throngs of shirtless dancers, a flaming ninja, a stage filled with spikes, and Tony Bennett singing an outdated tune. One of many few Disney-produced exhibits, this was pure camp madness. It positive wasn’t the best present, but it surely’s still one of my favorites.
12. Black Eyed Peas, Usher, and Slash (2011)
I never thought I’d say this, but the Black Eyed Peas have been fairly good on the Super Bowl. Dressed up just like the solid of a Not Tron XXX: A Porn Parody, the foursome descended from skinny air, ushering in a pop-heavy period of halftime exhibits. This laid the groundwork for Madonna, Beyoncé, and all the rest, with a subject full of dancers in glowing costumes and a futuristic theme that featured Usher and Slash popping up from beneath the stage to play “Candy Baby of Mine” for Fergie. Sadly, the sound sucked and the stage, meant to spell “LOVE” in lights when considered from above, was lacking one prong of its V. It’s actually too bad they needed to sing all of these Black Eyed Peas songs.
11. Jennifer Lopez and Shakira (2020)
The best moment of this celebration of Latin tradition, and notably hips-not-lying Latin dance, got here when J.Lo was joined onstage by her daughter, Emme, to sing “Let’s Get Loud” together with a fleet of different tween ladies whose moms were, little question, dance mom-ing on the sidelines. There were also children in lit-up cages scattered across the subject, and Emme broke right into a refrain of “Born in the USA” whereas her mom, sporting one of her many glittering bodysuits, showed off a giant feather cape with the American flag on one side and the Puerto Rican flag on the other.
It was a forceful tip of the hat to the present political situation of immigrants, notably those from South and Central America. Issues moved on from that second with the pace of Shakira shaking her hips. The whole performance was incredibly frenetic, whipping from one stage piece to the next earlier than the viewers may even work out what was occurring. There were loads of highlights — like J.Lo pole dancing on the spire of the Empire State Building — and the viewers could not even end asking, “Why is Shakira dancing with a random piece of rope?” earlier than she had moved on to another bit of caprice (including the zag route heard around the world). With two superstars in high type, it’s hard to not be swaddled of their beautiful glittery embrace.
10. Lady Gaga (2017)
This technologically advanced performance included a literal constellation of drones, a dive off the roof of the stadium, and dancers tossing glowing spears that seemed like a weapon out of Star Trek. There were even a keytar and a round piano just like the one on the Mos Eisley cantina. Lady Gaga has all the time been like Ziggy Stardust’s bratty youthful sister, and that was the theme she caught throughout, from her diamond phone for “Phone” to the crystal orb she brandished to the viewers.
But we never acquired greater than that polished public persona. Gaga did hits like “Poker Face,” “Born This Method,” and “Unhealthy Romance” without notable reinvention or retooling in the best way that Madonna, Prince, and Beyoncé did with their outdated gems. Additionally, she didn’t have any visitor performances, whereas the one covers have been these (possibly) political numbers on the opening. A Girl Gaga concert is all the time a spectacular affair, and this certainly was, but she wanted to solid her web wider for such an all-embracing cultural occasion.
Just because you’re the first doesn’t imply you do it greatest. For starters, the networks hadn’t fairly discovered how you can broadcast a halftime present but. It’s arduous to listen to the music over all the cheering (which lasted a full three minutes earlier than a be aware was even performed), there was a business break in the middle of the program, and the sport was in California, so it wasn’t fairly darkish out. Also, the production is painfully honest in that means Michael Jackson loved: As a substitute for reaching into his packed again catalog, he carried out “We Are the World” with a kids’ choir, then did “Heal the World” whereas an enormous globe inflated in the midst of the stage. Positive, he also did “Billie Jean” and moonwalked, but for a consummate showman, Michael Jackson may have achieved extra.
8. Coldplay, Beyoncé, and Bruno Mars (2016)
Although it was supposed to be Coldplay’s yr, they wound up mainly ceding the stage to Beyoncé and Bruno Mars. Thank God for these visitor performances because Coldplay’s contribution was pure Technicolor vomit. It was like a hippie van collided with a paint factory. Issues acquired significantly better as soon as Beyoncé confirmed up dressed as Michael Jackson from his 1993 performance with a legion of backup ladies for “Formation.” Bruno Mars got here out with a bunch of boys for “Uptown Funk” and the 2 of them squared off in the chicest battle of the sexes ever. Sorry, everybody else: This was Bey’s second, and it instantly joins Michael’s as one of the most iconic. Too bad every part else needed to drag her down.
7. Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Jessica Simpson, Kid Rock, Nelly, and P. Diddy (2004)
Whatever this inexplicable theme was supposed to be, the actual idea right here was excess. Janet working round with numerous dancers on a stage that seemed like if the Fortress of Solitude has been constructed by Cirque du Soleil, Diddy using a transferring platform through a sea of smoke, Nelly coming out in an enormous crimson car to sing “Sizzling in Right here,” and Child Rock by some means managing to put on 4 embarrassing outfits (together with a poncho created from an American flag). Sure, Justin ripped off Janet’s boob covering and we noticed a little bit of nip. No matter. It was still a really good present.
6. Diana Ross (1996)
Diana Ross was thought of as a safe choice for Tremendous Bowl XXX, however solely a diva of her magnitude may pull off such a surprising performance. It begins off along with her descending from the sky on a sparking platform, slowing significantly through a medley of her largest hits, like “Child Love” and “Cease within the Title of Love” with tuxedo-clad dancers throughout her. You then notice that Ross has modified her outfit for each single tune. And then you notice that the enormous gold cape she’s carrying is slowly enveloping the complete stage as she raises three tales within the air, singing “Ain’t No Mountain Excessive Enough.” And then you notice that the helicopter goes to land in the midst of the field. Diana will get in, waves to the group, after which flies off, sitting on the sting of the helicopter. Attempt to high that, Gaga.
5. Katy Perry, Lenny Kravitz, and Missy Elliott (2015)
Thanks to the unforgettable and meme-able antics of the “Left Shark,” this performance will likely be remembered for years to return, but it surely was also a technical marvel to behold. Perry arrives on the again of an enormous lion puppet while singing “Roar,” then wound up being dragged across the sky, singing “Firework” and using the Extra You Know shooting-star emblem. There were heaps to enjoy within the center, specifically bringing Missy Elliott onstage to do her factor on three — sure three — of her own songs. The psychedelic ’60s pop-art color scheme was unforgettable, as was the message that Katy despatched: On the Super Bowl, it’s a great factor to share the highlight.
4. Aerosmith, NSYNC, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, and Nelly (2001)
By at present’s standards, Justin Timberlake, a still-closeted Lance Bass, and the rest of NSYNC doing “Bye Bye Bye” whereas Steven Tyler pulled heartstrings with “I Don’t Wish to Miss a Factor” may not seem revolutionary — particularly contemplating the dated metallic outfits — but it surely definitely felt that means on the time. This was the first yr that fans have been allowed on the sphere surrounding the stage, which made the present feel extra like a standard concert — granted one the place Timberlake actually shot fireworks out of his fingers like he was one of many X-Men. The fan interplay, which has since turn out to be a staple, introduced entire new power to the proceedings. When shock visitors Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, and Nelly got here out for a completely rousing finale of “Stroll This Method,” each of the older dudes who love Aerosmith and their teenage daughters misplaced their collective minds.
3. Beyoncé and Future’s Baby (2013)
If the Tremendous Bowl allowed ties, Queen Bey would share the highest spot with the subsequent two performances. Her 2013 manufacturing was extravagant and jaw-dropping, whereas the all-black costumes and toned-down aesthetic supplied a sophistication that different artists simply can’t emulate. The music was spot on, springing from “Loopy in Love” to “Child Boy” and all the way to “Halo” as a swooping finale. It simply barely loses a couple of points, although, because her performance didn’t provide sufficient pastiche.
The stage was actually made to appear to be two of her profiles dealing with each other, while a giant image of Beyoncé burned above it. Sure, it was a very awe-inducing performance, but it surely didn’t embody even one costume change. The one guests were her former Destiny’s Child bandmates, who together sung “Single Girls,” which wasn’t even considered one of their songs. Nonetheless, Beyoncé solely had ladies performers on that stage, an admirable change, and a powerful message.
2. Madonna, LMFAO, Nicki Minaj, Cee Lo Green (2012)
A yr after the halftime present embraced its pop sensibilities with the Black-Eyed Peas, Madonna arrived as a Greek goddess on a giant litter carried by a legion of Spartan troopers, exhibiting all the kids exactly the way it’s achieved. There was a lot on the LED-lit stage at any given time: From the swirling dancers and the gospel choir to the slackline performer, it was nearly too much.
Madonna provided new arrangements of her outdated songs, like a drum-corps model of “Open Your Coronary heart” sung with Cee Lo Green and an LMFAO mashup of “Music” with “Celebration Rock Anthem.” Whereas she loses factors for devoting vital time to the lackluster single “Give Me All Your Luvin,” at least that featured Nicki Minaj and a bird-flipping MIA. Madonna efficiently moved through several modes in speedy succession, collaborated with different massive artists, and made all of it look easy as if being on the swirling heart of 200 performers is what she does each Tuesday. Perhaps because it’s.
1. Prince (2007)
The absolute best Tremendous Bowl halftime performance of all of them. Prince’s show wasn’t the most extravagant, but even at present, it thrills and excites. In the midst of a stage formed within the “Artist Formerly Known As Prince” image, the Purple One opened with the strains of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” earlier than switching gears with “Let’s Go Loopy.” Then the Florida A&M College marching band, strapped with glowing lights, joined in for a brand new arrangement of “Child I’m a Star” that recognizes the historical past of halftime exhibits past. This musical journey veered by means of covers of “Proud Mary” and “All Alongside the Watchtower” earlier than ending with a huge scrim shot up into the night time sky, with Prince’s big backlit silhouette projected as he shredded the guitar solo from “Purple Rain.” Oh, and he did the entire thing in the pouring rain. Who may ever high that?