The 29+ of the Most Iconic Super Bowl Halftime Shows

Entertainment

| LAST UPDATE 01/23/2023

By Manny Ray

While the Super Bowl is one of the most significant sporting events of the year, some say the halftime show is just as entertaining as the actual game. Take a look at some of the most memorable halftime performances of all time.

31. New Kids on the Block (1991)

It's no secret that New Kids on the Block members were born to perform, but things didn't quite go their way at the 1991 Super Bowl. For starters, ABC News cut in at halftime for a report, so the guys got bumped to the postgame show.

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Getty Images via Gin Ellis

They were also instructed to play This One's for the Children, accompanied by a Disney choir, so the band couldn't show off their usual moves. Even with the setbacks, NKOTB sounded incredible and certainly knew how to make the stage their own; Just a few of their all-time best hits were missing.

30. Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, & Toni Braxton (2000)

While each of these artists is a strong performer, they all sang original songs during halftime, which not everyone was happy about. The original music was exciting for some, but many people were hoping to hear some of their classic hits. The performance was certainly memorable, though, with puppets and dancers in exotic costumes.

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Getty Images via Jeff HAYNES

Collins sang a song from Tarzan, and Aguilera and Iglesias collaborated on an original song called Celebrate the Future in Hand. Overall, viewers had mixed feelings about this particular performance. Still, with the variety of artists all catering to different age groups, in a way, they were able to please a range of fans. 

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29. The Blues Brothers & James Brown (1997)

The 1997 Super Bowl took place in New Orleans, aka the jazz capital of the world. So, it only seemed right to bring some incredible jazz music to the halftime show, with none other than The Blues Brothers. However, things were a little different than usual, as their lead singer, John Belushi, had passed away.

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Getty Images via Jeff Kravitz

So, his brother, Jim Belushi, dominated the stage as the lead vocalist, singing Soul Man, Gimme Some Lovin, and a few other classics. And to make the performance even more exciting, The Blues Brothers were joined by James Brown, also known as the "Godfather of Soul," making these guys a match made in heaven.

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28. Maroon 5, Travis Scott, & Big Boi (2019)

Without a doubt, Adam Levine knows how to make any stage his own, even when performing alongside other noteworthy artists. Truthfully, Cardi B and Rihanna were initially asked to perform at the 2019 Super Bowl halftime show but turned it down, so the NFL chose Maroon 5, Travis Scott, and Big Boi instead.

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Getty Images via Jeff Kravitz

Considering many artists opted out of performing that year because of the controversy with Colin Kaepernick and the NFL, fans still enjoyed a show by some musical icons. However, many felt that the artists played it safe with no surprises, other than Adam Levine ripping off his shirt.

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27. Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt, & The Judds (1994)

In 1994, the Super Bowl halftime show was considered quite wholesome. Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt, and The Judds took the stage, serenading the crowd with their country sound. This was one of the few halftime performances by country singers, so not everyone in the audience was entirely familiar with the songs played.

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Getty Images via George Rose

But the performance went according to plan, without any significant sound or wardrobe malfunctions, so you've got to give the group credit for that, right?! Those who were fans of these particular artists loved the show; They just didn't quite make up the majority.

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26. Boyz II Men, Queen Latifah, Smokey Robinson, The Temptations, & Martha Reeves (1998)

During the 90s, there was a push for R&B and oldies at the Super Bowl halftime shows. So, in 1998, Boyz II Men took the stage, although they were more of a pop group. But they made a tribute to Motown, bringing Smokey Robinson, the Temptations, and Martha Reeves out.

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Getty Images via Jamie Squire

Queen Latifah also made the cut, bringing a new wave of energy among the crowd. Overall, not everyone was pleased with the chosen songs, especially by Boyz II Men. However, there was great appreciation for incorporating a bit of Motown, which made up for some other aspects.

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25. The Who (2010)

When The Who played the Super Bowl halftime show in 2010, they brought back a number of their classic hits for fans to jam out to. However, some people were under the impression that the band wasn't entirely prepared to play at such an elite stadium, on a far bigger stage than they were used to.

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Getty Images via Kevin Mazur

While many people were pleased with the music, especially younger generations who weren't as familiar with The Who's live performances, long-time fans felt this didn't compare to some of their previous concerts. Overall, though, The Who sounded incredible and made fans nostalgic during the show.

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24. The Weeknd (2021)

The most recent star to take the Super Bowl halftime stage was The Weeknd, and he had a much different experience than the rest of the artists on this list. Because of the global pandemic, there were far fewer fans in the stands than usual, so The Weeknd used this to his advantage, utilizing a large portion of the stadium.

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Getty Images via Kevin C. Cox

Leading up to the event, there was tons of hype, as The Weeknd revealed he'd put nearly $7 million of his own money into the show. He played some of his most famous songs, surrounded by an army of lookalikes. The Weeknd aimed to make this year's show extra special just for the fans, and it seems like that's exactly what he did.

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23. Bruno Mars & the Red Hot Chili Peppers (2014)

The Super Bowl halftime performance in 2014 turned out to be a disappointment to many fans. The show started off strong with Bruno Mars dominating the stage with an old school R&B twist, as he sported a James Brown-like suit and sang Shout by the Isley Brothers.

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Getty Images via Elsa

But once the Red Hot Chili Peppers came on, people quickly suspected they weren't actually performing live. After the show, the band admitted that they had left their instruments unplugged and played a pre-recorded version of their music. Years later, though, Bruno got the chance to play again, without the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

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22. The Rolling Stones (2006)

Before they even began singing, The Rolling Stones amazed viewers with the physical stage they were performing on. It was shaped just like their logo, the red lips with a stuck-out tongue. The band played three songs, including their newest single at the time, Rough Justice.

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Getty Images via Brian Bahr

Some die-hard fans just weren't satisfied with this set, as they'd expected the Stones to play more than three songs, especially some of their classic hits rather than a new one. But they made the most of their brief performance, bringing their best possible dance moves to make for a lively show.

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21. Justin Timberlake (2018)

While performing at the Super Bowl halftime show in 2018, Justin Timberlake reminded fans of what an incredible artist he is, with iconic lyrics and unbelievable energy radiating through the stadium. But this didn't come until the second half of his set when he got into his classic songs.

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Getty Images via Christopher Polk

At the same time, though, some viewers felt J.T.'s performance was on the boring side, compared to some exciting entrances other artists had made in the past, like Lady Gaga and Katy Perry. But still, his vocals met his usual high standards; He just might want to work on his entrance next time, according to some fans.

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20. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (2008)

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers started off strong with a memorable performance of American Girl. This was followed by some other classics, like Runnin' Down a Dream, Free Fallin', and more. The group's energy was at an all-time high, getting the crowd more hyped up during a very eventful game.

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Getty Images via Theo Wargo

Because of the action between the New England Patriots and the New York Giants, many fans were just anxious to see how the rest of the game would play out, as it was indeed a nail-biter. Regardless, though, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers put their all into this performance, and many people in the stands enjoyed it.

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19. Stevie Wonder, Gloria Estefan, & Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (1999)

Anytime Stevie Wonder's on stage, all eyes are on him, as he can mesmerize fans with his talent. In 1992, he shared the stage with Gloria Estefan and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Stevie gave Gloria the chance to redeem herself from her last Super Bowl halftime performance, and she killed it!

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Getty Images via Al Pereira

She was definitely able to Turn the Beat Around on stage and got the Miami audience into the salsa mood she knows and loves. However, some people felt that Big Bad Voodoo Daddy was inferior to Wonder and Estefan, but all musicians worked hard to give the crowd a memorable show. 

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18. Shania Twain, Sting, & No Doubt (2003)

In 2003, Shania Twain was amidst her grand comeback after releasing her first new album in five years. So, getting the chance to perform at the Super Bowl halftime show was the icing on the cake for her. Twain kicked off the show with Man! I Feel Like a Woman! and the crowd went wild.

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Getty images via Al Bello

Sting and No Doubt followed Shania's mesmerizing performance, also pleasing the audience, but no one could compare to Twain's show that night. While the vocals were incredible, some people felt that the overall performance lacked some backup dancers or other bells and whistles.

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17. Patti Labelle, Tony Bennett, Teddy Pendergrass, Arturo Sandoval, & Miami Sound Machine (1995)

The 1995 Super Bowl halftime show was no short of an eventful performance with plenty of unexpected guests; Some even said it was a little overwhelming. Cobras played the drums, Indiana Jones flew in with a parachute, and there was a ritual involving the Super Bowl trophy.

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Getty Images via Focus on Sport

All while Patti Labelle appeared as a demon goddess in red sequins, surrounded by shirtless dancers, a flaming ninja, and the iconic Tony Bennett. All of the action wasn't much of a surprise, as it was a Disney produced show. Teddy Pendergrass, Arturo Sandoval, and Miami Sound Machine also brought magical vocals on stage.

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16. Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Jessica Simpson, Kid Rock, Nelly, & P. Diddy (2004)

Before performing at halftime in 2018, Justin Timberlake took the stage in 2004, alongside Janet Jackson, Jessica Simpson, Kid Rock, Nelly, and P. Diddy. Now that's certainly a crowd! This was by far one of the most memorable halftime performances of all-time, partially because of Janet's wardrobe malfunction.

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Getty Images via JEFF HAYNES

Nelly sang Hot in Here inside a giant red car, Diddy came in on a moving platform surrounded by smoke, and Kid Rock shocked the audience with his unusual assortment of costumes. Timberlake accidentally ripped off part of Jackson's top, but the music was legendary aside from the madness. 

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15. Black Eyed Peas, Usher, & Slash (2011)

No matter what people thought about the Black Eyed Peas before the Super Bowl in 2011, most viewers were amazed by their halftime performance. The foursome arrived on stage from the sky wearing light-up robot suits, surrounded by an army of dancers who emerged from the field.

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Getty Images via Christopher Polk

Usher and Slash emerged mid-performance to sing Sweet Child of Mine, and then most of the show consisted of a medley of Black Eyed Peas songs. Unfortunately, though, there were some technical difficulties with the sound system and the display on stage, but the gang did their very best to carry on as planned.

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14. Michael Jackson (1993)

When fans heard that the King of Pop would be performing at the Super Bowl halftime show in 1993, the bar was suddenly set extremely high. Michael Jackson sang some of his most famous songs, such as Billie Jean, Black or White, and more. And then things took a bit of an emotional turn.

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Getty Images via Steve Granitz

Jackson played We Are the World, and the audience members revealed drawings by children in Los Angeles, changing the tone of the entire performance. He ended the show with Heal the World while playing a video montage showing his humanitarian efforts worldwide.

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13. Paul McCartney (2005)

Following Janet Jackson's wardrobe malfunction in 2004, the NFL chose a performer who certainly would not make the same mistake; Paul McCartney. This performance helped transition the Super Bowl halftime shows from strictly pop to classic rock, and fans loved it!

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Getty Images via Jeff Gross

The former Beatles legend opened the show with Drive My Car, followed by Get Back. Then McCartney switched gears and traded in his guitar for a piano for the rest of the performance. He ended on a high note with Hey Jude, bringing some nostalgia into the stadium, making for an incredibly memorable show.

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12. Lady Gaga (2017)

Lady Gaga's never afraid to make a daring entrance, and in 2017, she kicked off the halftime show in flames, literally. She started off by showing her love for America with a medley of God Bless America, and This Land is Your Land from the roof of the stadium.

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Getty Images via Christopher Polk

Once on stage, Gaga played Poker Face, Born This Way, Bad Romance, and more fan favorites. The entire performance was iconic, and the ending was unlike any other. When she finished, Gaga dropped the mic, caught a football tossed to her, and vanished into a mysterious staircase.

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11. Katy Perry & Missy Elliott (2015)

Katy Perry literally soared into the 2015 Super Bowl halftime show, as she made her way to the stage on a massive lion puppet while singing Roar. She stayed in the air to perform Firework but eventually came back down to the ground when a mysterious silhouette appeared.

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Getty Images via Christopher Polk

It was indeed Missy Elliott, making a grand comeback, as she hadn't performed live in quite a while. Fans were blown away to see Missy back and better than ever, singing three of her original songs. Part of what made this night so special was Katy's message that it's good to share the spotlight, just like she did with Missy.

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10. Diana Ross (1996)

Years before Lady Gaga, Diana Ross descended on stage from the sky on a shiny platform before playing some of her most iconic songs, such as Stop in the Name of Love and Baby Love. Immediately, she got fans excited when she yelled, "We're gonna take you higher! At the Super, Super Super Bowl!"

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Getty Images via Al Bello

Ross even changed her outfit for each song, amazing viewers by how quickly she could do this. Overall, it was an incredible performance, and nearly every audience member was thrilled to watch this legend dominate the stage. She even had a memorable ending, as she announced, "Oh my - here comes my ride," and left in a helicopter.

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9. Bruno Mars, Beyonce, & Coldplay (2016)

It's no secret that Beyonce, Bruno Mars, and Chris Martin from Coldplay are talented individuals. But, what happens when you combine each of their very different sounds to put on one halftime show at the Super Bowl? Many fans were greatly impressed, starting with Coldplay's mashup of Yellow and Viva La Vida

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Getty Images via Ezra Shaw

And after a few songs, Bruno Mars brought some Uptown Funk to the stage. But some say that Queen Bey outshined the others, who strutted out with her army of dancers and flames coming from every angle, making quite the memorable entrance. Overall, though, this was an unforgettable performance.

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8. Aerosmith, Britney Spears, NSYNC, Nelly, & Mary J. Blige (2001)

The 2001 Super Bowl halftime show was indeed one to remember, but many fans couldn't decide whether it was brilliant or just pure insanity. This was the first time fans were allowed on the field during the show, so there was already a lot of excitement leading up to it.

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Getty Images via KMazur

Aerosmith kicked off the performance, and then the band members were joined by Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, and Nelly during Walk This Way. NSYNC was also a part of the show; Overall, the variety of performers catered to a wide range of audiences. From rock fans to pop lovers, nearly everyone was intrigued by this show.

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7. Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band (2009)

Leading up to the 2009 Super Bowl, Bruce Springsteen was unsure if he could jampack an entire concert into a 12-minute performance. However, from the moment he walked on stage with the E Street Band, all doubts vanished. He'd previously turned down the chance to play at the Super Bowl, so this was already a monumental show.

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Getty Images via Win McNamee

Springsteen immediately gained the audience's attention when he yelled, "I want you to step back from the guacamole dip... And turn your television all the way up!" The gang played 10th Avenue Freeze Out, Born to Run, and more as the crowd jammed out to these classic tunes.

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6. U2 (2002)

U2's 2002 halftime performance was filled with emotion. It was just a few months after 9/11, so the band started by paying tribute to all of the victims and then kicked off the show with Beautiful Day. Later on, they sang Where the Streets Have No Name, with the names of the tragedy's victims displayed in the background.

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Getty Images via Jed Jacobsohn

Not only was the music incredible, but U2 made the halftime show about far more than just them and their performance. It was clear that each musician put their heart and soul into this memorable night to make it as meaningful as possible. And at the end, Bono opened his jacket to show the American flag he'd sewn inside.

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5. Jennifer Lopez & Shakira (2020)

If there's anyone whose Hips Don't Lie, it's Shakira and Jennifer Lopez, as they made the entire stadium sparkle in 2020. Before taking the stage, Lopez said to Shakira, "Let's show the world what two little Latin girls can do." And that's exactly what they did; Shakira opened the show with She Wolf, plus a few other hits.

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Getty Images via Kevin Winter

J.Lo eventually took the stage, joined by J. Balvin, and later, she and Shakira sang Shakira's Waka Waka together. These musical icons sang and danced like never before and even surfed through the crowd mid-performance. According to Shakira, it was "an all-inclusive party, a party that integrates culture and diversity."

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4. Beyonce & Destiny's Child (2013)

Beyonce's become the queen of Super Bowl halftime shows, and in 2013, she took things to a whole new level. For starters, she reunited with Destiny's Child in the middle of the show, and fans couldn't believe it! Beyonce, Kelly Rowland, and Michelle Williams were back and better than ever.

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Getty Images via Ezra Shaw

The three legendary women performed a medley of songs, including Independent Woman, all leading up to Beyonce's iconic hit, Single Ladies. They ended the performance by singing Halo and brought everyone in the audience a bit of nostalgia. "Thank you for this moment. God bless y'all," Beyonce said.

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3. Madonna, Nicki Minaj, CeeLo Green, M.I.A., & LMFAO (2012)

Madonna and Nicki Minaj are both absolute legends in the music industry, but it's no secret that they have very different styles. In 2012, Madonna wowed viewers with a medley of some of her greatest hits, while dressed as a Roman gladiator-like cheerleader, looking stunning as always.

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Getty Images via Jeff Kravitz

CeeLo Green harmonized with her during Like a Prayer, and then Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. took the stage and added some more excitement to the show during Give Me All Your Luvin'. LMFAO also contributed to the performance with a mashup of some of their most popular songs.

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2. Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, Kendrick Lamar & 50 Cent (2022)

In the most recent Super Bowl halftime show, audiences experienced a cultural reset we never thought we needed. Some of the most iconic names in R&B history took center stage to put on the ultimate mashup performance. The stadium crowd went crazy the moment Dr. Dre and Snoop Dog collectively appeared on the multiplex stage.

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Gregory Shamus via Getty Images

50 Cent turned the show upside down, but the attention was quickly turned towards Mary J. Blige's outstanding Family Affair performance. But, it was the final minutes of Eminem's Lose Yourself and Kendrick Lamar's Alright that truly left critic amazed. "One of the all-time great Super Bowl halftime shows," Rolling Stone praised.

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1. Prince (2007)

Finally, the moment you've all been waiting for; After 52 Super Bowls, the majority has decided that Prince's 2007 halftime performance just might have been the best yet, according to several articles and reviews. He took the stage with incredible energy that radiated throughout the stands, playing his iconic purple guitar.

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Getty Images via Jonathan Daniel

Prince sang some of his classic hits, including Let's Go CrazyProud Mary, and more. But what made this performance so memorable was when he sang Purple Rain. Prince essentially gave the song a new meaning; During the song, it started downpouring, and the stadium was literally filled with Prince's Purple Rain.

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