Football followers may not understand it, however loads of Americans solely attend Super Bowl events for seven-layer dip, liberal ingesting, and the nationally televised pop live performance in any other case generally known as the Super Bowl halftime present. For many years, the present would merely characteristic a university marching band or two, with a efficiency by Andy Williams or Up With People tossed in for good measure, however that every one modified in 1993. That’s the yr when Michael Jackson turned the Super Bowl halftime present into must-watch tv.
In the many years since Jackson created the halftime present as we all know it, the Super Bowl has run by way of remarkably completely different eras of efficiency — the MTV years, Janet Jackson’s Nipplegate, and the classic-rock revival of the late aughts — however custom and function unite all of them. The mode has all the time been pastiche, combining disparate components right into a cohesive entire that celebrates American tradition and zeitgeist. Ahead, Vulture ranks the entire Super Bowl halftime reveals since 1993, from worst to greatest.
25. Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, and Toni Braxton (2000)
The very first thing you have to perceive about this halftime present: Disney owns ABC, in order that they determined to hijack 12 minutes of America’s time for an enormous business for some Cirque du Soleil rip-off known as the “Disney Millenium Performance.” There had been a bunch of puppets and other people in loopy costumes, which was type of cool, however all of them appeared like robotic overlords from a machine future that was obsessive about New Age therapeutic and wheatgrass pictures. To make it even worse, every performer sang an unique tune, so the viewers didn’t acknowledge any of it. I might have given something to listen to “Sussudio” — as a substitute, we acquired Phil Collins in a backwards Kangol hat and the world’s saddest cargo pants, singing one thing known as “Two Worlds.” Oh, and Edward James Olmos stored popping out to supply bizarre narration like, “As it does each thousand years, the gateway of time has opened as soon as once more to present us hope.” Thanks, however no thanks.
24. Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt, and the Judds (1994)
There is nothing sadder than a rustic spectacular, particularly when essentially the most imaginative efficiency accessible is a horde of individuals dressed as cowboys and cowgirls. Sure, it’s a preferred style, however an enormous chunk of the viewers had no clue what “Tuckered Out” or “It’s a Little Too Late” had been, or why they wanted to care about bland smiling ladies in 10-gallon hats. To make it worse, the folks on the sector seemed to be transferring round carrying fluorescent mild bulbs. This was a halftime present to overlook.
23. The Rolling Stones (2006)
There are two notable issues about this efficiency: 1) The Rolling Stones performed on a stage formed just like the band’s lips-and-tongue emblem, and a couple of) the folks of Detroit, the place that yr’s recreation was performed, had been pissed as a result of no Motown artist was requested to carry out. Also, the Stones solely did three songs. Three. And considered one of them was their newest single, “Rough Justice.” A observe to the Rolling Stones: No one needs to listen to the brand new stuff, particularly on the Super Bowl.
22. Dan Aykroyd, John Goodman, James Belushi, ZZ Top, and James Brown (1997)
Since the sport was in New Orleans, I suppose the theme made sense. What didn’t was letting Jim Belushi sing “Soul Man” and “Gimme Some Lovin’.” Yes, they let Jim Belushi sing. It was like watching your uncle do karaoke, besides there have been tons of ladies in tiny outfits gyrating in all places whereas a marching band spelled out phrases on the sector and pyrotechnics exploded into the abyss. Then ZZ Top performed “Legs” whereas the dancers laid on their backs and, um, confirmed off their legs. Even with James Brown, this halftime present wanted an entire lot extra of one thing. Anything, actually.
21. Gloria Estefan, Stevie Wonder, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (1999)
Yes, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy performed the Super Bowl and we are going to by no means be capable to take that away from them. But whereas pastiche is one of the best ways to create a fantastic halftime present, this one was simply an excessive amount of. They threw a bunch of stuff on the wall, then all of it caught and stayed there for a number of weeks and acquired moldy. Gloria Estefan killed it, after all, and Stevie Wonder was nice, however the sound combine was off the entire time. Two all-time greats wasted on a spectacle that was completely hole at its core.
20. Justin Timberlake (2018)
Justin Timberlake is a former member of NSYNC, husband to Jessica Biel, ex-boyfriend of Britney Spears, tour mate of Christina Aguilera, and co-Emmy winner (for “Dick in a Box”) with Andy Samberg. He couldn’t enlist the assistance of any of these folks to enliven what was essentially the most boring Super Bowl halftime present of the trendy period? Instead, we acquired a projection of Prince on an enormous sheet whereas Timberlake sang “I Would Die four U.” It was definitely a reminder of the Purple One’s iconic halftime efficiency — and in his hometown, no much less — however in any other case this was a boring, ill-conceived, and muddled efficiency. It began with Timberlake singing underneath the stadium in what felt like a small membership present, however even when he got here onto the primary stage, it nonetheless had the identical feeling. The Super Bowl will not be the time for intimate numbers. It is a time for spectacle and Justin left it (and all of his well-known buddies) at house. Lady Gaga jumped off the roof! Katy Perry rode in on an enormous lion! Beyoncé shot Kelly and Michelle by way of the ground to sing “Single Ladies!” Justin Timberlake simply roamed round aimlessly after which performed the piano whereas sporting an outfit that appeared prefer it might double as an billboard for low cost looking retailer. What a horrible solution to destroy #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay.
20. The Who (2010)
There had been lasers and a few singing. There was a devoted model of “Baba O’Riley” and different songs utilized by CBS procedurals. I assume the stage was kinda cool. Blah.
19. Shania Twain, No Doubt, and Sting (2003)
Was this a halftime present or a playlist for a really brief automotive journey? Shania did “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” with out even one backup dancer or costume change. Next, Gwen Stefani carried out “Just a Girl” along with her backing band. There has been no greater whiplash between two bands within the historical past of the Super Bowl. Finally, Sting appeared and Stefani joined him for “Message in a Bottle.” That’s it. Finito. The solely prospers had been the punk-rock cheerleaders leaping on trampolines, and even that happened seven minutes into the present. Yawn.
18. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (2008)
Tom Petty is considered one of our nation’s best underappreciated property. Of all of the acts to rise up and play the primary 4 songs off their greatest-hits album, Petty’s — “American Girl,” “I Won’t Back Down,” “Free Fallin,’” and “Runnin’ Down a Dream” — are maybe essentially the most strong all through. But, man, couldn’t he have no less than enlisted a number of dancers to liven issues up?
17. Paul McCartney (2005)
This was America’s punishment for Janet Jackson’s nipple: an outdated 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 all your garments on. There’s no denying McCartney’s brilliance, however he simply ran by way of “Drive My Car,” “Get Back,” “Live and Let Die,” and “Hey Jude” with no interruption or embellishment that might presumably shock or offend the very fragile American sensibility. But hey, no less than there was an LED stage!
16. Bruno Mars and Red Hot Chili Peppers (2014)
It began with young children holding palms in entrance of American flags and ended with troopers dedicating “Just the Way You Are” to their households. Nine 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 along with her all-female efficiency, Mars reverted again to the standard 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 standing.
15. U2 (2002)
What we would have liked was Bruce Springsteen and what we acquired was an Irishman yelling “America!” in entrance of an enormous banner printed with the names of everybody who died within the 9/11 assaults. The U2 efficiency was a easy and pared-down affair, which appeared becoming for the zeitgeist, however nonetheless it was unusual to listen to what gave the impression of cheering as Bono sang “Where the Streets Have No Names” and the nation mourned.
14. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (2009)
During the unhappy period of getting older rockers taking part in their best hits with out flourish or interruption, Springsteen was the one one who appeared to have some enjoyable. “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 informed the viewers as his set began. Springsteen is among the American masters — why he didn’t play the post-9/11 halftime present, I’ll by no means know — and “10th Avenue Freeze Out,” “Born to Run,” “Working on a Dream,” and “Glory Days” are all certifiable jams. Still, there wasn’t something you couldn’t get right here from one of many Boss’s live shows, so he falls a number of spots.
13. Boys II Men, Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves, the Temptations, and Queen Latifah (1998)
This might have been a staid take 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 in any other case appeared like a really skilled high-school expertise present. Boyz II Men disenchanted by utilizing most of their time onstage for his or her new single “A Song for Mama,” which is soundly terrible. Luckily for Martha Reeves, whose singing gave the impression of a squirrel was humping her larynx throughout “Heat Wave,” Twitter didn’t exist again in 1998 or there would have been an entire lot of Left Sharking concerning the sound. Still this was healthful household enjoyable for all ages.
12. Patti Labelle, Tony Bennett, Arturo Sandoval, Teddy Pendergrass, and Miami Sound Machine (1995)
This was much less of a halftime present 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 Super Bowl trophy, folks on stilts, Patti LaBelle dressed as a demonic sequin goddess, throngs of shirtless dancers, a flaming ninja, a stage stuffed with spikes, and Tony Bennett singing an outdated tune. One of the few Disney-produced reveals, this was pure camp madness. It certain wasn’t the very best present, but it surely’s nonetheless considered one of my favorites.
11. Black Eyed Peas, Usher, and Slash (2011)
I by no means thought I’d say this, however the Black Eyed Peas had been fairly good on the Super Bowl. Dressed up just like the forged of a Not Tron XXX: A Porn Parody, the foursome descended from skinny air, ushering in a pop-heavy period of halftime reveals. This laid the groundwork for Madonna, Beyoncé, and all the remainder, with a area stuffed with dancers in glowing costumes and a futuristic theme that featured Usher and Slash popping up from underneath the stage to play “Sweet Child 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 dangerous they needed to sing all of these Black Eyed Peas songs.
10. Lady Gaga (2017)
This technologically superior efficiency included a literal constellation of drones, a dive off the roof of the stadium, and dancers tossing glowing spears that appeared like a weapon out of Star Trek. There was 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 to all through, from her diamond cellphone for “Telephone” to the crystal orb she brandished to the viewers. But we by no means acquired greater than that polished public persona. Gaga did hits like “Poker Face,” “Born This Way,” and “Bad Romance” with out notable reinvention or retooling in the best way that Madonna, Prince, and Beyoncé did with their outdated gems. Also, she didn’t have any visitor performances, whereas the one covers had been these (presumably) political numbers on the opening. A Lady Gaga live performance is all the time a spectacular affair, and this definitely was, however she wanted to forged her internet wider for such an all-embracing cultural occasion.
9. Michael Jackson (1993)
Just since you’re the primary doesn’t imply you do it greatest. For starters, the networks hadn’t fairly discovered learn how to broadcast a halftime present but. It’s onerous to listen to the music over the entire cheering (which lasted a full three minutes earlier than a observe was even performed), there was a business break in the midst of this system, and the sport was in California, so it wasn’t fairly darkish out. Also, the manufacturing is painfully honest in that manner Michael Jackson liked: Instead of reaching into his packed again catalog, he carried out “We Are the World” with a youngsters’s choir, then did “Heal the World” whereas an infinite globe inflated in the midst of the stage. Sure, he additionally did “Billie Jean” and moonwalked, however for a consummate showman, Michael Jackson might have completed extra.
eight. Coldplay, Beyoncé, and Bruno Mars (2016)
Although it was presupposed to be Coldplay’s yr, they wound up mainly ceding the stage to Beyoncé and Bruno Mars. Thank God for these visitor performances as a result of Coldplay’s contribution was pure Technicolor vomit. It was like a hippie van collided with a paint manufacturing facility. Things acquired a lot better as soon as Beyoncé confirmed up dressed as Michael Jackson from his 1993 efficiency 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 within the chicest battle of the sexes ever. Sorry, everybody else: This was Bey’s second, and it instantly joins Michael’s as probably the most iconic. Too dangerous all the things 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 presupposed to be, the actual thought right here was extra. Janet working round with numerous dancers on a stage that appeared like if the Fortress of Solitude had been constructed by Cirque du Soleil, Diddy driving a transferring platform by way of a sea of smoke, Nelly popping out in an enormous crimson automotive to sing “Hot in Here,” and Kid Rock in some way managing to put on 4 embarrassing outfits (together with a poncho constructed from an American flag). Yes, Justin ripped off Janet’s boob overlaying and we noticed a little bit of nip. Whatever. It was nonetheless a very good present.
6. Diana Ross (1996)
Diana Ross was thought of a protected alternative for Super Bowl XXX, however solely a diva of her magnitude might pull off such a surprising efficiency. It begins off along with her descending from the sky on a sparking platform, slowing significantly by way of a medley of her greatest hits, like “Baby Love” and “Stop within the Name of Love” with tuxedo-clad dancers throughout her. Then you understand that Ross has modified her outfit for each single tune. And you then understand that the large gold cape she’s sporting is slowly enveloping the whole stage as she rises three tales within the air, singing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” And you then understand that helicopter goes to land in the midst of the sector. Diana will get in, waves to the group, after which flies off, sitting on the sting of the helicopter. Try to prime that, Gaga.
5. Katy Perry, Lenny Kravitz, and Missy Elliott (2015)
Thanks to the unforgettable and meme-able antics of the “Left Shark,” this efficiency will probably be remembered for years to come back, but it surely was additionally a technical marvel to behold. Perry arrives on the again of an enormous lion puppet whereas singing “Roar,” then wound up being dragged across the sky, singing “Firework” and driving the More You Know shooting-star emblem. There was heaps to take pleasure in within the center, particularly bringing Missy Elliott onstage to do her factor on three — sure three — of her personal songs. The psychedelic ’60s pop-art colour scheme was unforgettable, as was the message that Katy despatched: At the Super Bowl, it’s a superb factor to share the highlight.
four. Aerosmith, NSYNC, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, and Nelly (2001)
By in the present day’s requirements, Justin Timberlake, a still-closeted Lance Bass, and the remainder of NSYNC doing “Bye Bye Bye” whereas Steven Tyler pulled heartstrings with “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” may not appear revolutionary — particularly contemplating the dated metallic outfits — but it surely positively felt that manner on the time. This was the primary yr that followers had been allowed on the sector surrounding the stage, which made the present really feel extra like a standard live performance — granted one the place Timberlake actually shot fireworks out of his palms like he was one of many X-Men. The fan interplay, which has since develop into a staple, introduced an entire new power to the proceedings. When shock friends Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, and Nelly got here out for a totally rousing finale of “Walk This Way,” each the older dudes who love Aerosmith and their teenage daughters misplaced their collective minds.
three. Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child (2013)
If the Super Bowl allowed ties, Queen Bey would share the highest spot with the following two performances. Her 2013 manufacturing was extravagant and jaw-dropping, whereas the all-black costumes and toned-down aesthetic offered a sophistication that different artists simply can’t emulate. The music was spot on, springing from “Crazy in Love” to “Baby Boy” and all the best way to “Halo” as a swooping finale. It simply barely loses a number of factors, although, as a result of her efficiency didn’t provide sufficient pastiche. The stage was actually made to appear like two of her profiles dealing with one another, whereas an enormous picture of Beyoncé burned above it. Yes, it was a completely awe-inducing efficiency, but it surely didn’t embody even one costume change. The solely friends had been her former Destiny’s Child bandmates, who collectively sung “Single Ladies,” which wasn’t even considered one of their songs. Still, Beyoncé solely had girls performers on that stage, an admirable change and a strong 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 an enormous litter carried by a legion of Spartan troopers, displaying all the children precisely the way it’s completed. 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 virtually an excessive amount of. Madonna supplied new preparations of her outdated songs, like a drum-corps model of “Open Your Heart” sung with Cee Lo Green and an LMFAO mashup of “Music” with “Party Rock Anthem.” While she loses factors for devoting important time to the lackluster single “Give Me All Your Luvin,” no less than that featured Nicki Minaj and a bird-flipping MIA. Madonna efficiently moved by way of a number of 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. Maybe as a result of it’s.
1. Prince (2007)
The best possible Super Bowl halftime efficiency of all of them. Prince’s present wasn’t essentially the most extravagant, however even in the present day, it thrills and excites. In the center 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 Crazy.” Then the Florida A&M University marching band, strapped with glowing lights, joined in for a brand new association of “Baby I’m a Star” that acknowledges the historical past of halftime reveals previous. This musical journey veered by way of covers of “Proud Mary” and “All Along the Watchtower” earlier than ending with an enormous scrim shot up into the evening sky, with Prince’s large backlit silhouette projected as he shredded the guitar solo from “Purple Rain.” Oh, and he did the entire thing within the pouring rain. Who might ever prime that?
A earlier model of this story misidentified the Who’s “Baba O’Riley.”