Date published: 8th Feb 2023
There are few stages in the music world, particularly the American one, more iconic than the halftime slot at the Super Bowl. The biggest names in the biz have just 15 minutes to prove their superstardom and entertain the masses. 150 million people on average tune along to the event, one of the biggest crowds anyone is ever likely to get, and when artists get it right (which they usually do to be fair to them), they go down in musical folklore.
From supergroups formed for one gig only to one-person shows that etch people into history. Emotional performances highlighting traumatic world events to celebrations of certain eras of music. The halftime show is a thing of legend, and we've decided in the run-up to Super Bowl LVII, to do the insurmountable task of putting together our top ten of all time.
So have a scroll down, and check out the videos attached if you haven't seen them yet, there are some truly iconic moments here. Plus, if we've missed some out, let us know what your choices would've been.
Image: Zimbio on Facebook
Widely lauded as the best to ever do it on the Super Bowl stage, Beyonce's first solo performance, after doing it alongside Coldplay and Bruno Mars in the past, was absolutely outstanding. No stranger to putting on a huge live performance, Beyonce ran the world during her halftime appearance at the 2013 Super Bowl.
Smashing through bangers like 'Crazy in Love,' 'Baby Boy' and 'Independent Women' and getting the whole crowd dancing, Beyonce then did the unthinkable, inviting Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams for a Destinys Child reunion that culminated in a magical rendition of their seminal track, 'Halo.' If we're honest, we're all lucky to be sharing a planet with Beyonce, never mind a stadium.
Dr Dre & Friends (2022)
Image: Kristoffer Carl Taft on Facebook
The most recent halftime show was inarguably one of the very best. A sprawling celebration of American rap culture, Dr Dre brought an army of the very best in the game with him. Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, and Kendrick Lamar all joined the legendary rapper and producer, giving everyone in the building a West Coast rap history lesson.
From 'California Love' with Snoop, to 'Alright' with Kendrick (who really deserves his own halftime show now), to 'Lose Yourself' with Eminem (which sent the stadium rocking), each of the group got their time in the spotlight along Dre, and for an added extra bonus Anderson Paak was behind the drum kit the whole time. Legendary doesn't quite seem to cut it with this one, we're sure it'll go down in Super Bowl folklore and be mentioned for years to come.
Image: Sounds Familiar Music Quiz on Facebook
Where to start with this one? When Prince was announced as the halftime show, there was little doubt in people's minds that it would be anything other than iconic, but yet, as always, the purple maestro managed to blow everyone's expectations out of the water. Donning a signature purple guitar, he treated the crowd to 15 minutes of the purest blend of rock n roll cool and arrogance.
Whilst you may have expected him to fill the time out with his own tunes, Prince, in the middle of a Miami thunderstorm might we add, covered Foo Fighters 'Best Of You', mashed up Queens 'We Will Rock You' with his own 'Let's Go Crazy' and shredded his guitar with a rendition of 'All Along The Watchtower. It's iconic for a reason, and if you haven't watched it already, then we know what the next 15 minutes will entail for you.
Image: ATU2 on Facebook
With this performance, U2 quite simply created one of the most iconic moments in Rock and Roll ever. Set against the backdrop of a post 9-11 world, happening just a few months after the tragic event, U2 made this performance an emotional tribute to the victims, in their signature grandiose style that left many an attendee in need of a tissue.
Treating the crowd to 'Beautiful Day,” the sorrowful “MLK” while scrolling through the names of the dead on a giant screen, a harrowing but important sight, and finally built up to “Where the Streets Have No Name” during which Bono ripped open his jacket to reveal the stitched American flag inside, creating the iconic image above. If you haven't seen this one go and watch it back, just remember the tissues.
Katy Perry (2015)
Image: Programming Insider on Facebook
Beyond ridiculous, but eminently incredible nonetheless, Katy Perry's halftime show in 2015 was a sight to behold. With drugged-up looking palm trees dancing in the wind, bright pastels and cartoon imagery everywhere, and of course - the best thing to ever come out of a Superbowl halftime show - Left Shark.
Yet, whilst the iconic meme shark stole the show in the weeks and months following the performance, it was the surprise special guest that stole the hearts and minds of those inside. After a number of Katy's biggest hits, behind her, someone appeared from the mist, and it was none other than Missy Elliot, for her first high-profile live appearance in years. They both smashed through 'Get Ur Freak On' and left every punter inside grinning ear to ear.
The Rolling Stones (2006)
Image: Phixclothing on Facebook
It doesn't get much more iconic than The Rolling Stones does it? But, back in 2006, Mich and Co came to kick some ass and tear up some instruments, for a performance that, as mick joked, could've probably gone down just as well at Super Bowl I. Despite only doing three tunes, the three they picked couldn't be better. They trailblazed through 'Start Me Up,' 'Rough Justice' and the inevitable 'Satisfaction' to uproarious support and well and truly set their tongue styled stage alight.
Mick was up to his usual antics, popping and gyrating around the stage to adoring screams, and despite having a line censored on the telly, made every single person watching wish they were there.
Lady Gaga (2017)
Image: BBC Sport on Facebook
Can you name a more emblematic entrance to the Halftime show than Gaga? We can't. But let's be honest with ourselves now, it's Gaga, it was never going to be anything but was it? However, par the entrance the show was surprisingly absent of her usual antics and being relatively normal, it was a stand-out show for the iconic pop star.
One politically Gaga-esque change she did make however was at the end of the pledge of allegiance, where she put extra emphasis on the 'for all' and launched into her queer-positive anthem born this way. Whilst not as mental as many assumed it would be, Gaga tore up the surroundings in her usual fashion and made the stage her own.
Image: Martin Adriano on Facebook
There are few more widely known and loved people in the whole of music than Madonna, and once she stepped out onto the Super Bowl stage in those ancient-Roman gladiator studs, everyone knew they were about to see pop history. The whole set was a barrage of glitz and glam, and as she blazed through her set, everyone was quickly reminded just how many of the greatest pop songs ever made, are hers.
However, Madonna, in true Super Bowl fashion, was not solo. Onstage with her came the likes of Cee Lo Green, for harmonies on 'Like a Prayer' and alongside him were the likes of Nicki Minaj, LMFAO, and M.I.A. Talk about pop royalty. She even had some of the Cirque Du Soliel behind her dressed as gladiators and cheerleaders. There's only one word for this show, epic.
Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers (2014)
Image: NFL on Facebook
A pop and rock amalgamation of the decade, that no one knew they wanted, but once on stage, never wanted it to stop. Bruno Mars at the time of the announcement was the only one meant to be there, and many feared that despite his fame, he didn't have the back catalogue to do the performance justice. Yet, once he came on stage and did that iconic drum solo, no one was asking questions. Then when he went further to bring on the Chili Peppers, who in usual fashion had chests laid bare, everyone in the stadium gave it away to those on stage.
An epic mish-mash of pop, RnB, Funk, Rock, and Motown, this was one of the biggest surprises ever at the Super Bowl and will live long in the events folklore.
Aerosmith, Britney Spears, ‘NSync, Nelly & Mary J. Blige (2001)
Image: NBC News on Facebook
Finally, we bring you the weirdest, most wonderful collection of artists to come together for the SuperBowl (probably the weirdest, most wonderful of all time), when Aerosmith, Britney Spears, ‘NSync, Nelly & Mary J. Blige, all joined forces in 2001, for a show that left an equal amount of people in ecstasy and confusion.
“Walk This Way” was where it all came together in a spectacle of sleazy pop awesomeness. Aerosmith shredded up their iconic track, Britney, in silver football pants, starred as the Missy Who Was Ready to Play. Mary J. Blige sang her heart out to the chorus. Nelly rapped over Joe Perry’s signature guitar solo. It was crazy, chaotic, and some of the most fun that's ever been had at a SuperBowl halftime show. You've got to see it to belive it.
Check out our What's On Guide to discover even more rowdy raves and sweaty gigs taking place over the coming weeks and months. For festivals, lifestyle events and more, head on over to our Things To Do page or be inspired by the event selections on our Inspire Me page.
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