As iconic as the game itself, these Super Bowl halftime performances went down as the best. Furthermore, they became the measuring stick to judge all future performances. With Super Bowl 56 still fresh in our minds, did its halftime show join the list of the best Super Bowl halftime show performances of all time?
Best Super Bowl halftime show performances of all time
The Super Bowl halftime show has seen several notable performances over the years. Everything from Left Shark, a wardrobe malfunction, Michael Jackson, a surprise 50 Cent, and even a guitar solo in the pouring rain. Here are some of the best shows and performances in Super Bowl halftime history.
Super Bowl XLI halftime show | Prince
I’ll be honest — we almost had a new leader in the clubhouse. At the moment, Super Bowl 56 looks like a new benchmark for best Super Bowl halftime shows. However, I can’t do it. While these are not necessarily in order, Prince’s Super Bowl halftime performance was the greatest show ever. He put on a masterpiece in Miami back in 2007.
Not only did he do his songs, but his covers of other artists’ work were superb. Prince kicked it off with Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and even did “Proud Mary” by Creedence Clearwater Revival.
Yet, none of that is why we remember it as the best Super Bowl halftime performance of all time. Amidst a torrential downpour, Prince played “Purple Rain” to perfection in a scene Hollywood couldn’t have dreamt of. This is still the best Super Bowl halftime show performance of all time for my money.
Super Bowl LVI | Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Mary J. Blige, 50 Cent
If you were born in the 90s, you knew this could have been a great show just based on the lineup alone. It was full of artists we were searching for on Limewire (allegedly) while making burned CDs and mixtapes. Given the reaction on Twitter and on my own couch, this show nailed it.
Starting out with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg set the tone, as did the cameras in 4K clarity. Mary J. Blige absolutely crushed it and gave us a phenomenal meme template in the process. Kendrick Lamar rode the beat well as he always does. Eminem was, well, Eminem, which meant he was arguably the best one up there on stage. The whole thing was great. It was a win for Jay-Z, Roc Nation, and hip-hop as a collective.
The moment of the show was the surprise addition of 50 Cent. No one knew that was coming. And while 50 Cent looked closer to a full $1.00, hanging upside down to start his part of the show was just too good. I only wish the artists could play more of their songs, although I get it. You have six superstars in the music industry and 12-14 minutes to put on a show.
All in all, I loved it, as did the majority of people who knew the music. You’ll never impress the older generation unless it’s with a band whose last hit song came out when MTV still showed music videos, but it was never about that. While it might come in just under Prince, Super Bowl 56’s halftime show will go down as one of the best performances of all time.
Super Bowl XLVII halftime show | Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child
Anything with Beyoncé is going to be sensational. Queen B has an aura that no one can compete with, and it was on full display. Even the lights of New Orleans couldn’t keep up as a 35-minute power outage delayed the Super Bowl.
What stole the show was the surprise Destiny’s Child reunion as Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams came on stage to perform Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies.” Watched by 104 million people, her performance became the most-tweeted-about moment in Twitter history with 268,000 tweets per minute. I’d say that makes this a worthy addition to the most incredible Super Bowl halftime performances in history.
Super Bowl XLIII halftime show | Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
“The Boss.” Enough said. You don’t get more iconic in rock than Bruce Springsteen. The game between the Steelers and Cardinals and the halftime show lived up to the moment. Springsteen and his band came out and put on a 14-minute performance for the ages as they went through their biggest songs.
“Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out,” kicked off the Super Bowl halftime show, which also included “Born to Run,” “Glory Days,” and “Working on a Dream.” It was a full-on concert rather than relying on props and gimmicks, which is phenomenal. No list of all-time Super Bowl halftime shows would be complete without mentioning The Boss’ performance in 2009.
Super Bowl XXXVI halftime show | U2
Every year, the Super Bowl halftime show is different. Some are full or stage acts and choreographed dancers, while others capture a moment in history. That was Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002. Originally, Janet Jackson was supposed to perform the halftime show. However, after the terrorist attacks of September 11, the NFL wanted a set with a different tone. In stepped U2, one of the greatest stadium bands in recent history.
During their halftime performance, the band played their 2000 hit single “Beautiful Day,” the 1984 song “MLK,” and their 1987 hit single “Where the Streets Have No Name.” During the last two songs, the names of the nearly 3,000 people lost in the tragedy of 9/11 were projected onto a vertical screen behind the stage and across the interior of the Superdome. When viewed in the context of the time, U2’s Super Bowl halftime show is one of the most important in NFL history.
Super Bowl XXVII halftime show | Michael Jackson
Come on — it’s Michael Jackson. Of course he makes the list of greatest all-time Super Bowl halftime show performances. Sure, he didn’t play “Thriller.” But Jackson mesmerized more than 90 million viewers with only a tiny portion of his catalog, including “Billie Jean,” “Black or White,” and “We Are The World.”
Jackson started his halftime performance by appearing at the top of the stadium’s two jumbotrons by using body doubles. He then catapulted up onto the center stage, where he stood motionless for almost two minutes. Do you know how big of a star you have to be to stand in the middle of the stage at the Super Bowl, do nothing, and have everyone waiting on the edge of their seat to see what came next?
That’s a level only the King of Pop could reach. It was a bit self-indulging at the end when it showed Jackson doing various humanitarian efforts around the world, but that was also the show’s message: to heal the world and make it a better place. Jackson has to be on the list of the most outstanding Super Bowl halftime show performances of all time.