10 Best Super Bowl Halftime Shows
Before Katy Perry takes the stage this Sunday (Feb. 1), we countdown the ten most spectacular Super Bowl halftime performances ever.
Agree with our picks? Disagree? Tweet us at @Billboard with your comments.
10. Michael Jackson, 1993
Eager to keep viewers glued to their televisions, the NFL whipped up the Biggest Freaking Halftime Show Ever, starring Michael Jackson. The King of Pop whipped viewers into a frenzy with a lip-synched medley of "Jam," "Billie Jean" and "Black or White." MJ then cued up a snippet of "We Are The World" as the crowd turned over cards revealing drawings by the children of Los Angeles. And just in case viewers missed his message of harmony, MJ concluded with "Heal the World," while surrounded by 3,500 youngsters, as a blow-up globe deployed on the 50 yard line.
9. Aerosmith, 'N Sync & Britney Spears, 2001
Through Steven Tyler's musical career has been recently sidelined by a stream of band and personal issues, he and Aerosmith were first-round picks back in 2001. Besides the show's hard-rocking headliners, 2001's epic halftime opened with 'N Sync's "Bye, Bye, Bye." The two bands traded songs and verses until the stage exploded with the addition of Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige and Nelly for a show-stopping rendition of "Walk This Way."
8. Paul McCartney, 2005
A purported "safe choice" by the NFL following the previous year's "Nipplegate," McCartney signaled the transition from contemporary pop acts to older rock gods performing at halftime. Atop an X-shaped stage made of video projectors, the Beatle first warmed up with "Drive My Car." He then followed up with "Get Back," before trading his guitar for a piano during a fireworks-laden rendition of the Wings' Bond theme, "Live and Let Die." Saving his best for last, McCartney signed off with "Hey Jude," during which the 84,000 in attendance at Jacksonville's Alltel Stadium all joined in for the iconic coda.
7. Janet Jackson & Justin Timberlake, 2004
It was the day that the phrase "wardrobe malfunction" entered the American vernacular. Debate about whether Justin Timberlake accidentally or "accidentally" exposed Janet's little Jackson has raged since that Houston halftime. FCC fines have been assessed, thrown out and appealed in judicial court, and the court of popular opinon will be in sessions for years. But bedazzled breast or not, you have to admit that J&J put on a pretty kick-ass show. It's a shame all anyone remembers is the last two seconds.
6. The Rolling Stones, 2006
Considering the fact that the veteran Brits are behind one of the best-known kickoff jams, "Start Me Up," it was natural that the Rolling Stones featured the hit, which reached No. 2 on the Hot 100 in 1981, during their 2006 halftime show. On a stage built to look like the Stones' iconic lips logo, Mick and co.'s 12-minute set was rounded out by "Rough Justice" and the classic "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." But in the post-wardrobe-malfunction halftime world, the NFL opted for a five-second tape delay that allowed censors to mute parts of "Start Me Up" and "Rough Justice" deemed too sexually explicit.
5. Beyoncé, 2013
After her silhouette was lit on fire, Beyonce emerged from a cloud of smoke with an inspired display of hits (including "Love on Top" and "Crazy in Love") and multimedia indulgence during her Super Bowl XLVII halftime show performance. And that was all before Destiny's Child's long-rumored reunion commenced when Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams shot out from under the stage like pistons to join Bey for "Bootylicious," "Independent Women" and "Single Ladies." During Beyonce's reign on the halftime stage, she was also backed by dozens of female dancers and band members (including a killer horn section), and innovative animation screens with duplicate Bey's running wild. PHOTOS
4. Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band, 2009
In 2009, the Boss beckoned viewers to step away from the guar and "put the chicken fingers down" before proceeding to rock Tampa for the next 12 minutes. Though Bruce turned down several prior invitations to perform at the Super Bowl, Springsteen's set was proof that good things come to those that wait. The E-Street Band rocked through a four-song set of crowd favorites, but the biggest hit came when Jersey's finest slammed into a TV camera with his crotch during "10th Avenue Freeze Out."
3. Madonna, 2012
Riding a huge buzz for her then-forthcoming album "MDNA," Madonna charged into her Super Bowl XLVI halftime performance as the quasi-gladiatorial captain of a cheerleading squad that included LMFAO, Nicki Minaj, M.I.A., and Cee Lo Green. Amid Roman soldiers, Madge entered the field on a golden throne to belt out longtime favorite "Vogue" before being joined by LMFAO for a "Party Rock Anthem"/"Sexy And I Know It" infused take on her 2000 hit "Music." Sure, the Material Girl slipped a bit while dancing in those thigh-high heeled boots, but her Super Bowl gig's most talked about moment when M.I.A. and Minaj joined her for new single "Gimme Your Luvin'." It happened fast, but everyone watching at home certainly saw M.I.A.'s mischievous middle finger. However, Madge's epic "Like A Prayer" finale, aided by Cee Lo and large robed choir, ensured that the 12-minute spectacle ended with the focus right back on the music. PHOTOS
2. U2, 2002
Less than five months after the tragedies of September 11, U2 brought the heart-shaped stage from their Elevation tour to the gridiron. The band kicked off with "Beautiful Day," but it was their 9/11 tribute that captured the most attention. As they played "Where the Streets Have No Name," a scrolling backdrop featured the names of all of the victims who perished in the attacks and Bono finished the song by opening his jacket to reveal the stars and stripes in its lining.
1. Prince, 2007
Long known for erotically-charged performances, Prince was a curious halftime choice only three years post-Nipplegate. While he did wield that purple, unpronounceable-symbol-shaped guitar in an unabashedly phallic way, the ecstatic genius of Prince's performance was the way he actually played the instrument. The rocker powered through his own classics ("1999," "Let's Go Crazy") and the classics of others ("Proud Mary," "All Along the Watchtower"). But the explosive coda was "Purple Rain," which had the stadium full of testosterone-pumped football fanatics waving their arms and howling in falsetto.