The Super Bowl is the highlight of the NFL season every year, and of course, the Super Bowl halftime show! The sporting event draws tens of thousands of football fans into the stadium and millions of people in front of the screens. The halftime show is always a hit. Absolute stars heat up in just 12 to 13 minutes and set milestones with their performances. Granted, sometimes it backfires. Below we’ve listed some of the best and worst halftime shows in Super Bowl history.
Best Super Bowl Halftime Performances
5th best: 2013 – Beyoncé, Destiny’s Child
Beyoncé‘s gig at the 2013 Super Bowl was a brilliant event, but shortly prior to the event she had been criticised for lip-synching at Obama’s inauguration. But at New Orleans’ Superdome she shut everyone up by rocking the stage with a breathtaking show and proved that she can do it live. When she was joined onstage by her ex-colleagues from Destiny’s Child, the crowd of 70,000 went wild. It was their first appearance together after eight years.
4th best: 2014 – Bruno Mars
Bruno Mars’s 2014 performance was a real spectacle. The light show was as perfectly designed as the gigantic fireworks above the stadium. The show was just as sporty as the actual football match. It all started with a crazy drum solo, then it went through the history of music, for example with a reminiscence of James Brown. Later, none other than the Red Hot Chili Peppers joined him on stage. And then Bruno united the Americans with the song “Just The Way You Are“, while US soldiers greeted their loved ones in a video.
3rd best: 2009 – Bruce Springsteen & the E-Street Band
There is probably no other musician who has “American” written all over him like Bruce Springsteen. The Boss demonstrates this in every way, on and off stage. The megastar is known for his down-to-earth credibility and gives it his all every time he graces the stage. The Super Bowl was an absolute must for him, a natural step. During the 12-minute show, Springsteen & co. unpacked a show that is hard to beat in terms of energy. Pure, unbridled, sweaty rock ‘n’ roll, a real hit for football fans.
2nd best: 2002 – U2
U2 provided sufficient goosebumps at the Super Bowl 2002. The USA was under the unbelievably tragic impressions of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, just five months had passed. During the show, U2 had the names of all victims appear on a screen. The audience was more than moved by “Where The Streets Have No Name“. Bono opened his jacket: The lining showed the US flag. It was a symbolic concert of togetherness and hardly anyone could hold back their tears…
The best: 2007 – Prince
The backdrop was dramatic, when during the break of the Super Bowl XLI the rain was coming down in buckets. The Miami stadium seemed to be engulfed by the storm. Prince was indifferent to that, or should we say it couldn’t have come at a better time? He was soaking wet, and by the time his song “Purple Rain” came around, everything, including the forces of nature seemed to have aligned. This moment wrote Super Bowl halftime history!
Worst Super Bowl Halftime Performances
There were also half-time shows where we couldn’t help but laugh, smirk or plug our ears:
Worst #5: 2004 – Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake
It’s 2014, and Houston will host Super Bowl XXXVIII. And if in the halftime show, apart from the sudden appearance of Janet Jackson‘s breast, nothing is stands out, neither musically nor in terms of showmanship, that really speaks to the soul. Justin Timberlake had supposedly exposed Jackson’s breast purely by accident. But even this scene could not save the extremely flat show…
Worst #4: 2019 – Maroon 5, Travis Scott, Big Boi
Maroon 5 were a perfect match for the stagnating Super Bowl 2019, uninspired performance and a long outdated outfit that couldn’t have reflected the signs of the times better. Somehow it gave the impression that the makers of the Halftime Show hadn’t found an act that was willing to face the general criticism of this event. Maroon 5, at least, had obviously slept through the past decade. After “Sicko Mode” by Travis Scott, all viewers could have gone home or turned off their TV.
Worst#3: 2011 – The Black Eyed Peas, Usher, Slash
Somehow it is still a mystery to many how the Black Eyed Peas made it to the halftime act at the Super Bowl XLV. With 103,000 spectators, the Cowboys’ Stadium in Arlington set a record. Directly on location and on screens worldwide, however, the spectators also experienced an uninspired and boring performance by the band around front woman Fergie. They sang badly, lovelessly and secured themselves negative points when Fergie butchered “Sweet Child O’ Mine” with Slash.
Worst #2: 2010 – The Who
The Who took over the halftime show in February 2010. The pioneers and all-time heroes of stadium rock have been around for 46 years since the band was founded. Unfortunately, the spectators and listeners at the Super Bowl XLIV in Miami quickly had to realise that the rock veterans Pete Townsend and Roger Daltrey, unlike the Stones or Paul McCartney, had long since left the top musical league. The sound was lousy and the music and vocals were not in the least synchronised. Definitely a Super Bowl Halftime that will not pass in history.
Worst #1: 2000 – Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, Toni Braxton
For the millennium celebration there was a really big Disney production. It was reminiscent of an amusement park mixed with an orchestra and a circus. Admittedly, it was a bizarre spectacle with Disney written all over it, and as always, top-class artists were the stars. However, their performance and the whole production was undeniably cheesy and not so well executed. We’ll give them an “A” for effort…
2023 – Rihanna’s comeback to the Super Bowl Halftime
And in 2023, the Super Bowl game and halftime show will again be among the most-watched television broadcasts in the United States. This time, Rihanna will perform at the climax of the American football season. Rihanna’s comeback! Her last performance was at the 2018 Grammy Awards. That’s why we are even more excited about her performance. We wish you the best on your return, RiRi!
Which Super Bowl Halftime did you enjoy most or least? Tell us in the comments!