16 memorable Super Bowl halftime shows
Jennifer Lopez and Shakira (2020)
How do you bounce back after one of the most lackluster halftime shows in recent memory? Booking Jennifer Lopez at the height of the Jennaissance and pairing her with Shakira ought to do the trick. Indeed, the duo put on a truly spectacular show (with appearances by J Balvin and Bad Bunny) that doubled as a celebration of Latin culture, with an explicit critique of the Trump administration’s immigration policies and an electrifying infusion of multiculturalism, that all culminated in a dance-off. Muchas, muchas gracias to all involved.
Lady Gaga (2017)
Fresh off her 2016 LP Joanne, Lady Gaga descended on the Super Bowl halftime show — literally. The pop star dove from the rooftop of Houston's NRG Stadium and subsequently performed a barrage of hits new and old, including "Poker Face," "Born This Way," "Million Reasons," and "Bad Romance." With 117.5 million viewers, Gaga's set was the most-viewed Super Bowl halftime show in history — and eclipsed the game's viewership. Her preparation for the gig was captured in the 2017 documentary Gaga: Five Foot Two.
Katy Perry (2015)
Katy Perry was joined by some special guests for her halftime show performance at Super Bowl XLIX. It wasn't Lenny Kravitz or Missy Elliott who stole the show, however: It was Left Shark, Perry's backup dancer with some questionable dance moves. The meme-worthy moment combined with Elliott's resurgence and Perry's upbeat performance of hits like "Roar," "Teenage Dream," and "California Gurls" made the show one to remember.
Bruno Mars (2014)
Before "Uptown Funk" appeared in every commercial on air so far this year, Bruno Mars ruled the beginning of 2014 with his impressive halftime show. Entering with a powerful drum solo, Mars crooned and danced through hits like "Locked Out of Heaven" and "Treasure" with more than enough energy to fill MetLife Stadium. The only false note was the Red Hot Chili Peppers appearance — the band brought their signature rock sound, but it didn’t gel so well with Bruno Mars' soul-funk vibe. Unfazed, Mars brought it home with an emotional ending, belting out "Just the Way You Are" as a tribute for service men and women overseas to pay their loved ones back home. It may have been just 15 minutes, Mars delivered an incredible performance full of heart, soul, and tons of (uptown) funk.
Who runs the world? Girls — one in particular, actually. Queen Bey's hit parade showcased all her power notes, booty shakes, and ''Single Lady'' hand flips. Happily, there were also a few surprises, including some support from — and audience cheers for — Beyoncé's former Destiny's Child bandmates Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams. By the time Beyoncé belted out the final notes of ''Halo'' — in front of real fireworks, natch — there was no question who was the reigning superstar. When a blackout halted the big game shortly after his wife's performance, Jay-Z didn't miss a beat: ''Lights out. Any question?''
The Material Girl may have been the headliner, but it was M.I.A. who made headlines the minute she shot up her middle finger during Super Bowl XLVI's halftime entertainment. Joining Her Madgesty and Nicki Minaj on Madonna's new single, ''Give Me All Your Luvin','' the rapper flipped off the biggest halftime audience ever. Madonna deemed the flip slip as ''such a teenage, irrelevant thing to do'' — a debatable dismissal considering that her own performances of ''Vogue'' and ''Like a Prayer'' (not to mention guest appearances by LMFAO, CeeLo Green, and Cirque du Soleil) were scarcely part of the conversation minutes post-show thanks to that one extended digit.
Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band (2009)
The older the better: That seemed to be the mantra at the time when it came to selecting the Super Bowl's halftime entertainment. (Tom Petty? Paul McCartney?) But The Boss proved that he's still born to run — and rock — with a rollicking 12-minute set of some of the band's biggest hits, including ''Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out'' and ''Glory Days.'' He even executed his signature move (sliding across the stage on his knees) without injury. He may have been 59, but Bruce Springsteen still had all the right moves.
Naturally, Prince doesn't do anything unless it's utterly dramatic, and his Super Bowl debut was no different. In this case, he performed a medley including Queen's ''We Will Rock You''; his hits ''Let's Go Crazy'' and ''Baby, I'm a Star''; Creedence Clearwater Revival's ''Proud Mary''; Bob Dylan's ''All Along the Watchtower''; and, oddly enough, Foo Fighters' ''Best of You.'' It all crescendoed into a downpour on his logo-shaped stage and a spirited rendition of ''Purple Rain,'' which included the now-infamous shadow projection that had Prince's guitar protruding suggestively from his hip.
The Rolling Stones (2006)
On a stage shaped like their iconic tongue logo, the Rolling Stones rocked out to ''Start Me Up,'' ''Rough Justice,'' and ''(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction.'' Despite the censorship of some of their lyrics (this was a post-Janet/Justin world!) and a five-second delay, Mick and Co. still managed to delight audiences.
Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake (2004)
The halftime show started modestly enough — Jessica Simpson, a couple of college marching bands, Janet Jackson, P. Diddy, Nelly, and Kid Rock all took the stage. But when Jackson returned for an encore, Justin Timberlake appeared for a duet of his hit ''Rock Your Body.'' Before most viewers knew what was happening, the former boy-bander ripped away her bustier, revealing her breast for a mere second. The most entertaining part of this performance may just have come after it was all over, as the media firestorm around the indecent exposure raged on for months.
In probably the most moving Super Bowl halftime performance to date, Irish rockers U2 first performed ''Beautiful Day'' and ''MLK'' before launching into a touching rendition of ''Where the Streets Have No Name'' that featured backdrops scrolling the names of the 9/11 attack victims into the sky. In another spirited move during a time when the nation so needed it, Bono opened his jacket to reveal — we'll pardon the fashion faux pas — an American flag sewn into the lining.
Britney Spears and Aerosmith (2001)
The height of the pop boom saw old school (Aerosmith, Mary J. Blige, Tremors featuring the Earthquake Horns) meet new (NSYNC, Britney Spears, Nelly). A back-and-forth medley between Aerosmith and NSYNC — including ''Jaded,'' ''I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing,'' ''Bye Bye Bye,'' and ''It's Gonna Be Me'' — was outshone only by a finale performance of Aerosmith's ''Walk This Way,'' which featured all the singers.
Patti LaBelle (1995)
It was a Disney-tastic show, titled ''Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye,'' all meant to promote the latest Disneyland attraction. Most of it was cheesy, sure, but diva Patti LaBelle saved it with a rousing, screaming, melisma-laced rendition of her hit ''New Attitude'' and by leading an everybody-now finale of ''Can You Feel the Love Tonight'' from The Lion King. And she did it all while looking like a crazy princess from the Indiana Jones movies.
Michael Jackson (1993)
Doubles of the King of Pop entered the stadium from each corner before the real Michael Jackson stood up and performed a medley of his hits: ''Jam,'' ''Billie Jean,'' and ''Black or White.'' The truly big production, though, came in the finale when he sang his do-gooder single ''Heal the World,'' complete with the audience holding cards that created images of children from across the globe; a video montage of his various humanitarian efforts around the world; and a choir of 3,500 local L.A. children.
New Kids on the Block (1991)
Consider this the lost Super Bowl halftime performance. Because ABC News cut in with a report anchored by Peter Jennings on the progress of the Gulf War at the game's break, New Kids on the Block's harmonies (the show was titled ''A Small World Salute to 25 Years of the Super Bowl'') were moved to postgame. Unfortunately for the Kids, lots of ABC affiliates ran the first episode of Davis Rules instead.
Up With People (1986)
Can you believe Up With People were Super Bowl halftime entertainment for four years in the '70s and '80s? This, their final halftime performance, was titled ''Beat of the Future'' and featured dancers portraying various scenes of the — you guessed it! — future. Of course, they were as campy and (yes, I'll say it) ridiculous as ever.