Lady Gaga will be the headliner of the Super Bowl LI halftime show. The pop star made the news official Thursday via a tweet. The singer/writer/actress will join a (mostly) illustrious list of performers to play the biggest sporting event of the year.
Prior to 1993, the Super Bowl halftime show was barely indecipherable from, say, the Rose Bowl. There were college marching bands, weird 1970s "Up With People" performances and one year when Brian Boitano figure skated with Dorothy Hamill. It was filler. Now, with the superstar performers and surprise guest appearances, many think the Super Bowl is a mere vessel for the main event in the middle.
To celebrate Lady Gaga's announcement, FOX Sports looks back at the last 24 Super Bowl halftime shows - the modern era, if you will - and ranks them from worst to first. In doing so, we kind of came to the conclusion that Ms. Gaga, with her elaborate stage shows, costumes and her formidable spirit will be near the top of this list come next February. (Headliners listed first.)
Getty ImagesGeorge Rose
THE BLUES BROTHERS, JAMES BROWN, ZZ TOP (1997)
One half of a fake band from Chicago opens for a soul legend from Georgia backed by a rockabilly country band from Texas all in a loving tribute to the music of New Orleans. Gus Bradley could come up with a better game plan. Still, if this performance in any way contributed to the creation of the transcendent According to Jim, then it was all worth it.
AFP/Getty ImagesJEFF HAYNES
INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF THE FORBIDDEN EYE (1995)
The height of mid-90s cheese: In this "stage production" that was a lot like the one at Disney's MGM Studios, Indiana Jones (but not Harrison Ford) searches for a missing object (in this case, the Vince Lombardi trophy) while Tony Bennett and Patti Labelle sing songs that only tangentially relate to what's going on around them. This would stand as most embarrassing moment in Indiana Jones history until that monkey scene in The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Between the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders and Travis Tritt, the amount of blue tassel at the Georgia Dome vied for a world record.
Getty ImagesFocus On Sport
PHIL COLLINS, CHRISTINA AGUILERA, ENRIQUE IGLESIAS (2000)
I don't know any of the songs on the five-track setlist, which is a shame because it meant Phil Collins left Sussudio just sitting there.
AFP/Getty ImagesJEFF HAYNES
CHAKA KHAN, GLORIA ESTEFAN, STEVIE WONDER, KISS, BIG BAD VOODOO DADDY (1999)
Who's the only person to headline two Super Bowl halftime shows? Sorry, Beyonce - though you stole the show at this year's Super Bowl, it was Coldplay's show to steal. No, the answer is Gloria Estefan, proving that, indeed, the rhythm will inevitably get you.
AFP/Getty ImagesSTEPHEN JAFFE
THE WHO (2010)
Running out of "Oldchella" options (sorry, I don't think Bob Dylan is ever getting the call), the NFL called up The Who to perform at Super Bowl XLIV where they played the theme to not one, but two CSI programs.
AFP/Getty ImagesTIMOTHY A. CLARY
TOM PETTY (2008)
Seeing Tom Petty perform is like watching Jeremy Irons in a movie. You forget he exists, are pleasantly surprised when he appears and then immediately go back to forgetting about him when he's gone. (Jeremy's Iron?)
MCT via Getty ImagesMCT
MADONNA, CEE-LO, M.I.A., NICKI MINAJ, LMFAO, REST OF PLANET (2012)
From the school of less is more, The Material Girl would have had a fine show if she didn't trot out the entire Billboard Top 40 to perform along with her. While there had been some concern Madonna would try and use her platform to shock the only 17 people in the U.S. she hadn't already, it was M.I.A. who made headlines by flipping the bird to the camera (how subversive!), a move that brought a $16.6 million lawsuit by the NFL that was later settled for an undisclosed amount.
Boston Globe via Getty ImagesBoston Globe
SHANIA TWAIN, NO DOUBT, STING (2003)
Sting surprisingly managed to finish within the allotted 20 minutes and Shania Twain and No Doubt were perfectly entertaining.
MOTOWN SALUTE (1998)
The NFL saluted Motown with a performance in San Diego. The late-nineties were an odd time in the history of Super Bowl halftime shows. Still, any show with The Temptations, Smokey Robinson, Martha and the Vandellas and Boyz II Men can't be bad.
Getty ImagesJamie Squire
COLDPLAY, BEYONCE, BRUNO MARS (2016)
The guest stars were back for second go-rounds on the halftime stage and for good reason - they both gave great performances in the years they headlined. But why is Beyonce jumping into the middle of a set by a pasty British dad rock band? If you want Beyonce, get her to headline. You don't get Leonardo DiCaprio for a movie and then kill him off in the first five minutes.
Denver Post via Getty ImagesJoe Amon
BRUNO MARS, RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS (2014)
Red, hot chili peppers are great on their own (or with a perfectly paired ingredient) but mix them with something else - say, steak or mashed potatoes or ice cream - and they ruin everything. The Red Hot Chili Peppers are great on their own but mix them with something - say, a fedora-wearing, charismatic, hit-making Bruno Mars - and they ruin everything.
BLACK EYED PEAS, SLASH, USHER (2011)
The Black Eyed Peas performed songs people knew, didn't take themselves too seriously, had the crowd jammin' out like they were at a Bat Mitzvah and kept even the snobbiest Pitchfork writer tapping his foot. What more can you ask for??
Getty ImagesChristopher Polk
THE ROLLING STONES (2006)
When the Stones tour, they're nominally doing it to support a new record but really just using it as an excuse to charge baby boomers $375 to watch them sing the hits like Brown Sugar. But, out of obligation, Mick and Keith will play a few new songs, which everyone accepts and sits through, provided they don't do too many. Anyway, that's cool to do when you're on stage with a 22-song setlist, but when you have to narrow it down to just three, like the Stones did in Detroit, you can't have Start Me Up and Satisfaction bookending the opening track to the immensely forgettable 2005 album named A Bigger Bang.
MCT via Getty ImagesAbaca Press
PAUL MCCARTNEY (2005)
Because those old Beatles songs are so short, McCartney can perform almost 40 songs at a regular concert, which takes fans through his whole musical history, from the early pop days through the Revolver experimentations through the Abbey Road perfection through the overrated Wings years through the cheesy duets up through his underrated recent output. So, with all those songs at his disposal, Sir Paul played: Drive My Car, Get Back, Live and Let Die and, of course, Hey Jude. Opportunity missed. But McCartney could have played G-chord progressions while reading the Wells Report and it still would have been awesome.
AFP/Getty ImagesROBERTO SCHMIDT
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN (2009)
The Boss plays four-hour shows. Giving him 15 minutes is like asking him to adapt Jungleland for a TV commercial. The songs he played at the Super Bowl - Tenth Avenue Freeze Out, Born to Run, Working on a Dream (blech) and Glory Days - were impeccable, but it felt like Bruce was barely warmed up. Whatever it was, that show inspired Bruce to write his new memoir Born to Run (it's great - at least the first 250 pages are) and to probably take new precautions while sliding amongst cameras.
Getty ImagesJamie Squire
DIANA ROSS (1996) 8. DIANA ROSS (1996)
Diana Ross finished her Supremes-heavy medley by helicoptering out of the stadium. Like a Ross
Getty ImagesAl Bello
KATY PERRY, LENNY KRAVTIZ, MISSY ELLIOTT (2015)
You know how some people embarrassingly admit to not seeing seminal movies, like Back to the Future, Ghostbusters (mine), Star Wars or Die Hard? That's kind of the way I feel about Left Shark. I watched it live and didn't notice. I watched a replay and didn't notice. So that non-troversy notwithstanding, Perry produced a great, upbeat show that was brought down a little by Missy Elliott in one of those "here's [name the artist], a fine artist who appears here for no reason whatsoever" guest spots.
With 9/11 still on everybody's mind, Bono was in all his preening, but admittedly touching, glory. A projected scroll of all the names of the nearly 3,000 victims from that horrible day was a wonderful remembrance but made the football 10 minutes later feel trivial.
Getty ImagesJed Jacobsohn
BEYONCE, DESTINY'S CHILD (2013)
Queen Bey performed nine songs (three with her former pop-group mates) in a whirlwind, tour-de-force performance that should be the standard for halftime shows: A performer at the peak of their power performing hits with one "surprise" (everybody knew Kelly and Michelle were coming out for a few tracks but they fit the proceedings) rather than a cluttered mess of people on the stage obscuring the headliner.
Getty ImagesEzra Shaw
AEROSMITH, ‘N SYNC AND BRITNEY SPEARS (2001)
It's very rare that a Super Bowl features a performer at the height of their popularity. Hugely popular? Sure. But at the exact apex of their careers? Not quite. The only time it happened was in 2001 when ‘N Sync and Britney Spears (hardly Beyonce or The Stones, I understand) took the stage and combined with Aerosmith for a joint performance of Walk This Way that stands as one of the most memorable halftime moments ever.
Getty ImagesDoug Pensinger
For all his greatness, Prince didn't have a catalog over the previous 20 years that the 140 million television viewers would know all that well. (In his later years, Prince was more popular for being Prince than anything else.) Would he subject fans to recent songs they didn't know? He had hundreds, after all, and some were great. Prince knew fan service, though. He went We Will Rock You < Let's Go Crazy < Baby I'm A Star < Proud Mary < All Along the Watchtower < Best of You < Purple Rain for his set. That's a Queen cover, Tina Turner cover, Bob Dylan cover, an odd Foo Fighters cover and three songs from his masterwork, Purple Rain. Prince knew how to please 'em.
Getty ImagesJamie Squire
JANET JACKSON, JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE (2004)
Well, one part was more memorable than the rest. (Bar trivia: What song were they singing during Janet's exposure? Rock Your Body.)
Getty ImagesFrank Micelotta
MICHAEL JACKSON (1993)
For a moment forever etched in time, the King of Pop shot up from the stage and stood tall in triumph, surveying his 100,000 subjects (and 100 million at home) for almost 90 seconds before breaking out into five songs he didn't even need to sing - the fans were doing that for him. It would be MJ's last stand. Later that summer, sexual abuse allegations would derail his career and Michael would never be the same. But after that night at the Rose Bowl, neither would the Super Bowl halftime show.