It doesn’t matter if you are a die-hard National Football League (NFL) fan or could not care less about American Football, there is no denying that the Super Bowl halftime show is an eagerly anticipated event on the music calendar. Some of the music industry’s biggest names, legitimate superstars, have taken to the field during the Super Bowl’s halftime interval and wowed millions of people worldwide.
The University of Arizona Symphonic Marching Band performed at the first Super Bowl halftime show in 1967. Marching bands prominently featured in most halftime shows until some bright spark in the NFL boardroom struck upon the idea of inviting musical A-listers to perform for the masses. The New Kids on the Block performed at Super Bowl XXV in January 1991, kicking off the current trend. Since then, the likes of Gloria Estefan, Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Aerosmith, U2, The Rolling Stones, and Bruce Springsteen have blasted 15-minute performances to audiences exceeding 150 million. Which are ranked as the best? Keep reading to find out.
Super Bowl XLI took place in 2007 at the Dolphin Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, the home of the Miami Dolphins. The Indianapolis Colts took on the Chicago Bears in front of a global audience of 93.2 million. However, viewership increased to 140 million once Prince took to the stage. The weather was atrocious and was affecting the game, leading those who know all about Florida sports betting laws to alter their bets, but the torrential rain did not deter Prince. It spurred him on, if anything.
Prince took to the field, with the Colts leading the Bears 16-14, wearing a bright turquoise suit on stage in the shape of his signature love symbol and in the middle of a Miami thunderstorm! Such inclement weather would knock most artists off their stride, but Prince was unlike most artists.
Prince treated the Super Bowl-viewing world to a 12-minute masterclass of how to grab an audience’s attention, keep it in a vice-like grip, and leave them begging for more when the final notes ended.
He started his spectacular performance with a rendition of ‘We Will Rock You,’ which fed into ‘Let’s Go Crazy,’ ‘Baby I’m a Star,’ ‘1999’ and the Creedence Clearwater Revival hit ‘Proud Mary’. Prince then performed a medley of ‘All Along the Watchtower’ and ‘Best of You’ by the Foo Fighters before a scintillating performance of ‘Purple Rain,’ which was quite apt seeing how Prince and everyone else in Miami was drenched to the skin.
Prince fought tooth and nail to prevent the entire performance from being posted online, but
it is widely available following the megastar’s tragic death in 2016.
February 3, 2013, is when Super Bowl XLVII occurred at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Although the game between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers was spectacular, it paled into insignificance after pop princess Beyoncé gave one of the best halftime shows in the history of American Football.
The Queen of Pop, Madonna, performed at the previous year’s Super Bowl, and her show was critically acclaimed. Not to be outdone, Beyoncé set about doing what she does best: showing the world there is nobody better in a live setting.
After an a capella version of the chorus from ‘Love on Top,’ Beyoncé transcended into ‘Crazy in Love,’ ‘End of Time’ and ‘Baby Boy.’ The New York Times’s Jon Caramanica stated Beyoncé performed ‘Crazy In Love’ with a ferocity he had never seen before.
Just as Beyoncé fans thought things could not get any better, former Destiny’s Child members Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams joined their former bandmate on stage! Together, they performed Destiny’s Child hits ‘Bootylicious,’ ‘Independent Women Part I’ and ‘Charlie’s Angels’ before all three collaborated for a version of Beyoncé’s ‘Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)’.
Powerful singing and dancing, all with a healthy dose of nostalgia. What was not to love?
Super Bowl XXXV saw the Baltimore Ravens take on the New York Giants at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida and had Aerosmith and NYSNC headlining the halftime show. It seemed a bizarre pairing that probably should not have worked, but boy, this show went down in Super Bowl history.
Billed as the Kings of Rock and Pop, the show opened to a pre-recorded skit featuring Chris Rock, Adam Sandler and Ben Stiller before NYSYNC officially got the show on the road by performing ‘Bye Bye Bye’. Aerosmith followed up with the theme song for the 1998 Hollywood blockbuster ‘Armageddon’, ‘I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.’
The show switched back to NSYNC, who had been joined by Tremors featuring The Earthquake Horns, and they sang ‘It’s Gonna Be Me’. Aerosmith retook center stage with a performance of ‘Jaded’ before a completely unexpected turn of events saw Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, and rapper Nelly appear on stage for an incredible rendition of the Aerosmith classic ‘Walk This Way’.
The unlikely cast went down a storm, especially as Spears and Justin Timberlake, who famously once dated, walked on stage side by side.
Although the three shows mentioned above are our particular favourites, a handful of performances deserve an honourable mention. For example, the 2022 show in Inglewood, California, saw Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, 50 Cent, and Kendrick Lamar treat everyone to a melody of hip-hop classics that will live long in the memory.
Even Rihanna’s most recent halftime show, her first live performance in five years, was a roaring success. Rihanna captivated viewers with a 13-song set of her greatest hits, including ‘Rude Boy,’ ‘Umbrella’ and ‘Diamonds’. She later revealed to her adoring fans that she was not dancing as much as usual due to her expecting her second child.