If you look at recent Super Bowl halftime history, three of the last five headliners were solo female performers — but look at the 20 years before that, and you’ll find just one other woman taking center stage.
On Thursday (Sept. 29), Lady Gaga confirmed that she will continue that modern-day trend as the 2017 Super Bowl halftime performer. While the halftime show has included plenty of featured female performers over the years — including Britney Spears, Shania Twain, Christina Aguilera, Gloria Estefan, Janet Jackson (remember that one?) and more — they all shared the stage with other acts as co-headliners.
So let’s look back at the four women who came before Gaga and how they took the lead in front of the biggest television audience of the year.
Katy Perry, 2015
Katy Perry started big, emerging on a massive animatronic lioness for “Roar,” and ended even bigger, standing on a dangerously tiny platform as a soaring firework transported her around the arena for (yes) “Firework.” She also called on some famous friends to join her, inviting Missy Elliott and Lenny Kravitz to the stage.
Three years before she stole the 2016 Super Bowl halftime show (sorry, Coldplay), Beyonce had her own showcase, where she put on a dancing-in-stilettos master class and reunited the ladies of Destiny’s Child. And in a serious HBIC move, her DC bandmates emerged from below the stage for a mini-set before popping right back down to concede the spotlight back to Queen Bey.
The biggest question for Madonna’s halftime show was how she would choose from her epic history of hits to fit a 12-minute setlist. She opted for “Vogue,” “Like a Prayer” and a medley of “Open Your Heart” and “Express Yourself,” while also highlighting her then-new song “Give Me All Your Lovin'” with Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. Oh, and CeeLo was there too.
Diana Ross, 1996
The diva who started it all. After New Kids on the Block and Michael Jackson ushered in a new era of pop-star halftime shows, Diana Ross broke into the boys’ club to command her own stage. It would be another 16 years before a woman would headline again. What took so long?