Ranking The Best Super Bowl Halftime Performances Of The Past 23 Years
Coldplay will take the stage with Beyonce during halftime of Super Bowl 50 Sunday, but before they do, we take a look back at the best performances in the past 23 years.
Stefania D'Alessandro & Theo War
Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt, The Judds
Well, the 1994 halftime show didn't really leave a lasting impression on the history of Super Bowl halftime performances. The show, touted as a 'Rockin' Country Sunday' consisted of Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt and Wynonna Judd. Naomi Judd made a surprise appearance at the end to join her daughter on stage. It does get extra points for apparently being the first halftime show to turn off the main stadium lights. Dancers performed with light sticks, so that's pretty cool, right? Click here to watch the entire performance.
Eric Drapper/Associated PressEric Drapper/Associated Press
The Blues Brothers, ZZ Top and James Brown
The top billed names of the 1997 halftime show were not musicians, but rather actors playing musicians. The Blues Brothers consisting of Jim Belushi, Dan Aykroyd and John Goodman took the stage in New Orleans to celebrate in the 'Blues Brothers Bash.' James Brown and ZZ Top eventually take the stage to save the show. While it was fun and some great songs were played, including the Blues Brothers' "Soul Man" and Brown's "I Feel Good," it was otherwise nothing to write home about. It was probably one of those shows were you had to be there in person to fully appreciate it. Click here to watch the first half of the performance.
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Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
Yes, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers have some classic songs ("American Girl," "I Won't Back Down" and "Free Fallin"), but overall the 2008 show was incredibly boring. He doesn't have the power to cross multiple generations the way some of the other artists on this list possess. The staging and light design were pretty cool, but there was nothing extra with the show. The game and the commercials both pack an extra punch on Super Bowl Sunday, shouldn't the halftime performance, too? Click here to watch the entire performance.
Stephan Savoia/Associated PressStephan Savoia/Associated Press
Shania Twain, No Doubt and Sting
Shania Twain may have been the headliner during the 2003 show, but it was No Doubt and Sting that was this show's saving grace. Gwen Stefani and Sting's duet on "Message in a Bottle" was pretty enjoyable, but this show's pitfalls were mostly to do with the production value. The show was staged to look more like a pregame performance since fans were only allowed to come up to half of the stage and the wide angles made it look a little too empty (or that everyone was on a beer run). The massive stage felt more like it was being used for something else later instead of built just for the occasion. Twain's lip-syncing wasn't all that great either. Click here to watch the entire performance.
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When your lead-in song is "Pinball Wizard," well, it's not really setting the tone right. That's what The Who chose to start their 2010 show. All together, the show was alright if you're into classic rock. The LED-lit stage was a nice touch. But, the biggest problem with having the British band as the halftime entertainment was the show felt more like a CSI theme song sing-a-long than a concert. Three of their songs "Baba O'Riley," "Who Are You" and "Won't Get Fooled Again" were all used in the CBS franchise and all three were played during the 12-minute set. Click here to watch the entire performance.
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Boyz II Men, Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves, The Temptations, Queen Latifah
For Super Bowl XXXII, the halftime show was dedicated to Motown's 40th Anniversary. Unfortunately, the game was being played in San Diego, Calf., but that didn't stop some of Detroit's biggest names from showing up. The performance included Boyz II Men, Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves, The Temptations and Queen Latifah. Sometimes it's nice to take a stroll down memory lane with these classic hits. Bonus, there's a little Brett Favre singing at the very beginning. Click here to watch the entire performance.
The Black Eyed Peas, Usher and Slash
The Black Eyes Peas incorporated technology into their 2011 performance unlike anyone had previously. Not only did the Peas' outfits light up, so did the dancers on the field that formed moving arrows. And while many artists preferred to lip-sync their performance, the Peas took a different approached and used auto-tune/vocal-enhancers, at least Will.I.Am did. (The others could have used it as well) Slash made a surprise performance to perform a version of "Sweet Child O' Mine" with Fergie that made you wish for Axl Rose. Usher also took the stage to perform "O.M.G." While the dancers and crew slowly built-up the stage to spell out "love" part-by-part for the closing of the show (which was by far better than the beginning), it was too little too late. Click here to watch the entire performance.
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Madonna, LMFAO, Nicki Minaj, MIA and Cee Lo Green
Madonna is one of those legends that has so many hits in her catalog, but nothing new has caught recently. So when that happens, a crowd wants to hear the classics. In 2012, Her Madgesty started things off right with a grand entrance to "Vogue" on a gold throne. The dancers throughout the show were truly impressive. But then LMFAO, Nicki Manaj and MIA joined Madonna on stage to perform some current songs. While those artists are great, it felt a little like the Queen of Pop was trying a little to hard to reconnect with her youth. Cee Lo Green and a marching band performing "Express Yourself" was also way too short. The show ended with "Like A Prayer" which of course was perfect, but we still had to suffer through "Give Me All Your Luvin." Click here to watch the entire performance.
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Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias and Toni Braxton
Disney produced the first Super Bowl halftime show of the new millennium in 2000 under the theme "Tapestry of Nations." The performers, including Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, Toni Braxton and Phil Collins were all great. The sets, props and puppets were spectacular, though we'd expect nothing less from a Disney production. Really, the biggest con for this show was that the Super Bowl wasn't the best venue for this type of performance. It felt more like a scene from an Olympic opening or closing ceremony than one of the biggest parties of the year. The whole thing was narrated by Edward James Olmos. Seriously, the Super Bowl halftime show does not need a narrator! Click here to watch the entire performance.
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Patti Labelle and Tony Bennett
Whoever thought that the 1995 performance starring Patti Labelle and Tony Bennett should be an Indiana Jones theme is practically a genius, or really just good at marketing. This performance was kind of like a giant promotion for Disney's new Indiana Jones Adventure ride that came out the same year. Labelle starts the show off on a high note (though it does include some obvious lip-syncing missteps) but the dramatics of the show are unmatched from the parachuters that fall from the sky on fire to the drumline in cheesy snake costumes. (Snakes. Why does it always have to be snakes?) This easily wouldn't pass for the concert-vibe Super Bowl viewers are accustomed to today but for the mid '90s it works. Click here to watch the entire performance.
What's more American: Football or Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band? Well football, duh, but Springsteen is pretty close. During his 2009 performance, Springsteen broke out some of his top hits including "Born To Run" and "Glory Days." Springsteen was also certainly not lacking enthusiasm which was totally contagious for the viewers, the ones in the stadium and the ones sitting at home. Click here to watch the entire performance.
For the Super Bowl's 30th anniversary, they brought in the legendary Diana Ross to fill the entire show. Officially, the show was called 'Take Me Higher: A Celebration of 30 Years of the Super Bowl,' it could have been called 'Cheesy Love Tunes' with no real reference to the Super Bowl. (However, there was at one point three Xs on the field to represent Super Bowl 30) While it was great seeing Ross sing seemingly all her hits, and actually sing live unlike some others on this list, there were a little to many wardrobe and song changes. But Ross did exit the stage in a helicopter that flew into the stadium, landed and flew out, and that was just awesome. Click here to watch the entire performance.
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The Rolling Stones
If a stage is any indication of how awesome a concert is going to be, then 2006 performer The Rolling Stones had a lot to live up to. Shaped as their iconic tongue logo, the boys from Britain completely rocked the stage at Ford Field in Detroit. Mick Jagger's hip swaying was on full display and the audience seemed to be enjoying the high-energy performance. Click here to watch the entire performance.
DAVID J. PHILLIP/AP/Press Association ImagesDAVID J. PHILLIP/AP/Press Association Images
Following the wardrobe malfunction the previous year, halftime producers went conservative and booked Paul McCartney. Now, don't get us wrong, being conservative isn't a bad thing, especially when that man is a former Beatle and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member. But this 2005 performance was a little subdued for the big stage. "Drive My Car," "Get Back," "Live and Let Die," and "Hey Jude" are classic songs, but they were not anything memorable. And quite honestly, we prefer his performance at the Olympic 2012 Opening Ceremony better. There was just something about it that fit a little better. And no, not because they were in London. Click here to watch the entire performance.
Gloria Estefan, Stevie Wonder, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
Miami certainly knows how to throw a party. The 1999 halftime performance started with a cameo from E.T. (yes, that E.T.) during the pregame reel and the show started out with some swing music from Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (remember them?). Then icon Stevie Wonder rides out in a car and magic happens. Really, has Wonder ever performed in something bad? Seriously, he tap dances during his turn! Mrs. Miami herself Gloria Estefan follows Wonder and the two go back and forth dueting on each of their songs. The performance never slows down. Now, the show itself was a little bit of a hodgepodge of music and performance, (We wish they hadn't made some of Wonder's classic songs into salsa remixes) overall, it was just simply enjoyable. Click here to watch the entire performance.
Aerosmith, NSYNC, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, Nelly
To be honest, many of the bonus points this 2001 performance racked up were based solely on nostalgia. Having Aerosmith is pretty awesome, but then add in NSYNC and Britney Spears during the height of their careers and the bubble gum pop explosion makes this show pretty epic. Add in some fun cameos from Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler and Chris Rock and the show almost perfectly defines the early 2000s. It does gets negative points because Mary J. Blige is underused and Nelly's rap is nowhere near as awesome as Run DMC's. But the star power of this show combined with the concert-vibe production was arguably the beginning of the modern-day halftime show. Click here to watch the entire performance.
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Bruno Mars, Red Hot Chili Peppers
Bruno Mars started his performance with a children's choir (Amazing!) then proceeds to perform a drum solo. Who would have thought a drum solo in a giant arena would build such energy. His own songs may not be as iconic as the others on this list, but dude performed the hell out of all of them. And once the Red Hot Chili Peppers took the stage, it was time to party. Unfortunately, their time was cut too short. And while Mars' last song of the night "Just The Way You Are" brought down the energy, the fireworks display that accompanied was breathtaking. Click here to watch the entire performance.
Even though Michael Jackson didn't have the technology and pyrotechnics that are available to artists today, he still pulled off a pretty impressive show in 1993. While he was totally lip-syncing and there were a few too many long, drawn-out dramatic pauses, overall, the King of Pop demonstrated just why he earned that nickname. Jackson performed his hits 'Billie Jean' and 'Black Or White' before getting the audience involved with his finally song 'Heal the World.' Jackson scored extra points by getting the Rose Bowl crowd to hold up cards that filled the arena with drawings of children by children. Plus, it was nice to see an inspirational theme carried throughout the performance instead of just his greatest hits. Click here to watch the entire performance.
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Katy Perry, Lenny Kravitz, Missy Elliott
From her entrance on a giant tiger while performing her hit song "Roar" to the grand finale flying across University of Phoenix Stadium singing "Firework," Katy Perry put on a show for Super Bowl 49 fans. She had a great use of staging and costumes and threw in a little nostalgia when "surprise" performer Missy Elliott took the stage after a long hiatus to perform three of her songs. Lenny Kravitz also made an appearance to perform Perry’s hit "I Kissed a Girl." The only criticism would be that he wasn’t on stage long enough. Perry also (unintentionally) created a viral sensation: Left Shark. Click here to watch the entire performance.
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Janet Jackson, P.Diddy, Nelly, Kid Rock, Justin Timberlake
Who could forget 2004's halftime performance and Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction"? But besides one of the most infamous moments in Super Bowl history, on the field and off, the show was going awesome before that. The dancing, marching band and production were very entertaining. Then, add in superstar cameos from Jessica Simpson, P.Diddy, Nelly, Kid Rock and, of course, Justin Timberlake, and you get a halftime show one would expect from the Super Bowl. MTV produced the over-the-top 12-minute segment and created a "super" environment. Click here to watch the entire performance.
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Beyonce, Destiny's Child
Beyonce was right. The New Orleans Superdome was not ready for her jelly. After her epic Super Bowl XLVII halftime performance, the Great Blackout of 2013 occurred. Coincidence? Probably not. But that's not the only reason this show ranks among the top. From her opening that included a Vince Lombardi voiceover from his speech "Excellence" to the smoke and fire and to her live voice, Beyonce nailed it. The show stayed current, but also featured a throwback to the early 2000s with a Destiny's Child reunion. The use of technology was impressive — It did create like 15 more Beyonces, which is definitely a good thing. The only thing more we could have possibly asked for was that her husband Jay-Z would've joined her on stage during "Crazy In Love," but we'll take what we can get. Click here to watch the entire performance.
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U2 had the daunting task of performing at the Super Bowl in 2002 less than five months after the Sept. 11 attacks. Bono and crew had the New Orleans' Superdome rocking with their hit "Beautiful Day," but that lead into a powerful tribute of all the victims that died during the terrorist attacks. A screen fell down from the rafters and names of each person scrolled across the screen while U2 performed "MLK" and "Where The Streets Have No Name." At the end of the performance, Bono opened his jacket to reveal the American flag. There's nothing like uniting rivals to cheer for one common team. Click here to watch the entire performance.
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The fireworks and video screen that surrounded Sun Life Stadium in Miami Florida started the 2007 halftime show off with a bang. "We Will Rock You" filled the air and then legendary Prince appeared on a staged shaped like his former name (You know, that symbol he called himself when he was The Artist Formally Known As). The high-energy kept the crowd lively, then the Florida A&M marching band entered the stadium and took the entire performance up a notch. The 12-minute show included classic Prince songs "Let's Go Crazy" and "Baby I'm a Star" but also featured some impressive covers including Tina Turner's "Proud Mary" and the Foo Fighters "Best of You." And he totally gets bonus points for doing it all in the pouring-down (purple) rain. Click here to watch the entire performance.