The best ever Super Bowl Half-Time performances

13 February 2022, 19:00

Classic Super Bowl performances: Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson; Prince, Madonna, Red Hot Chili Peppers
Classic Super Bowl performances: Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson; Prince, Madonna, Red Hot Chili Peppers. Picture: REUTERS/Alamy Stock Photo

Radio X takes a look at how the US sporting event went from marching bands to rock groups, pop stars and “wardrobe malfunctions” almost overnight.

Superbowl is the annual championship game of the National Football League (the NFL), which has been played since 1967. Back in the 60s, 70s and 80s, the halftime entertainment was provided by marching bands, cheerleaders and theatrical troupes with names like “Up With People”.

2022's halftime show will feature Eminem, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar and Mary J. Blige. Super Bowl LVI will take place on Sunday 13 February and sees the Los Angeles Rams take on the Cincinnati Bengals.

  1. 1993: Michael Jackson

    It all changed in 1991 when teenybop band New Kids On The Block performed at a show that was sponsored by the Walt Disney Company and Coca Cola. Two years later, Mr Jackson was the main attraction and TV viewing significantly increased.

    Michael Jackson performs during the halftime show at the NFL's Super Bowl XXVII
    Michael Jackson performs during the halftime show at the NFL's Super Bowl XXVII. Picture: REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo
  2. 2001: Aerosmith, ’N Sync, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, Nelly

    The first big star-studded, multi-performance halftime show was at Superbowl XXXV in which a video sketch featuring Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler and Chris Rock gave way to Aerosmith squaring off against Britney Spears, teen hearthrobs ’N Sync and hip hop stars Mary J. Blige and Nelly for a show-stopping version of Walk This Way.

  3. 2002: U2

    Understandably, the halftime show for 2002 became a tribute to the victims of the September 11 attacks. Who else could conjure up the right mix of earnestness and stadium-filling spectacle? Step forward U2, who performed Beautiful Day, MLK and Where The Streets Have No Name with aplomb.

    U2 lead singer Bono performs during the Super Bowl XXXVI halftime show at the Louisiana Superdome in 2002
    U2 lead singer Bono performs during the Super Bowl XXXVI halftime show at the Louisiana Superdome in 2002. Picture: Sipa US / Alamy Stock Photo
  4. 2004: Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake

    This year gained notoriety when Pop Prince Timberlake caused a "wardrobe malfunction" with Pop Princess Jackson's clothing and exposed her boob to the nation. Conservative America went into meltdown, apologies were made and fines were handed out.

  5. 2005: Paul McCartney

    After "Nipplegate", the organisers decided to play it safe in 2005, so they hired Good Old Uncle Paul to play some classics on his own. Phew.

    Sir Paul McCartney performs in the halftime show at Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville, Fla., on February 6, 2005.
    Sir Paul McCartney performs in the halftime show at Super Bowl XXXIX in Jacksonville, Fla., on February 6, 2005. Picture: UPI / Alamy Stock Photo
  6. 2006: The Rolling Stones

    Replicating 2005's successful formula, '06 saw the Stones take to the stage, playing two classics and a new one that nobody wanted to hear.

  7. 2007: Prince

    The Purple One played a medley of his hits, plus a cover of (strangely) Foo Fighters' Best Of You.

    Prince performs at halftime of Super Bowl XLI in Miami, Florida, on Sunday, February 4, 2007.
    Prince performs at halftime of Super Bowl XLI in Miami, Florida, on Sunday, February 4, 2007. Picture: Sipa US / Alamy Stock Photo
  8. 2008: Tom Petty

    Keeping it no-nonsense came the former Traveling Wilbury and solo artist Petty, who climaxed his set with the evergreen Running Down A Dream.

    Tom Petty and Heartbreakers perform during halftime at Super Bowl XLII, 2008
    Tom Petty and Heartbreakers perform during halftime at Super Bowl XLII, 2008. Picture: UPI / Alamy Stock Photo
  9. 2009: Bruce Springsteen

    Could you get any more blue-collar than Tom Petty? Well, yes. Here comes The Boss. His set included the legendary Born To Run and an emotionally-charged Glory Days.

    Bruce Springsteen performs at the Super Bowl XLIII, 2009
    Bruce Springsteen performs at the Super Bowl XLIII, 2009. Picture: Abaca Press / Alamy Stock Photo
  10. 2010: The Who

    The new decade opened with some more limeys - Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend demonstrated a previously-unknown love for American Football with a set that included Pinball Wizard and Won't Get Fooled Again.

  11. 2012: Madonna, Nicki Minaj and MIA

    Back to the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink line-ups, Madge was joined by a selection of fine female artists, plus Cee Lo Green and LMFAO. However, Madonna's edgy, credible guest M.I.A. kept it real by flipping the finger at the camera halfway through, leaving the NFL to sue her for $1 million. They settled out of court.

  12. 2014: Red Hot Chili Peppers

    They had the formula down by now - the rocking Chili Peppers shared the bill with the poptastic Bruno Mars. Now there's something EVERYONE can enjoy.

  13. 2015: Katy Perry and Lenny Kravitz

    Following the previous year's success, pop princess Perry was joined onstage by the cool vision that was Mr Kravitz. Well, there were guitars present, so it was kind of rock meets pop.

    Katy Perry and Lenny Kravitz perform during thePepsi Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show
    Katy Perry and Lenny Kravitz perform during thePepsi Super Bowl XLIX Halftime Show. Picture: Christian Petersen/Getty Images
  14. 2016: Coldplay

    Chris Martin and co played a blinder at Superbowl 50, with the singer being his usual excitable self alongside Beyonce and Bruno Mars. The band played Viva La Vida, Paradise, Adventure Of A Lifetime, Fix You and Up And Up.

    Chris Martin, Beyonce and Bruno Mars during the halftime show at Super Bowl 50, 2016.
    Chris Martin, Beyonce and Bruno Mars during the halftime show at Super Bowl 50, 2016. Picture: Tribune Content Agency LLC / Alamy Stock Photo
  15. 2017: Lady Gaga

    This year it was the turn of the Mother Monster, Lady Gaga, to take to the Super Bowl stage - she descended from the roof performing Poker Face. Bravo.

  16. 2018: Justin Timberlake

    The pop hero paid tribute to former Super Bowl star Prince during his hit-filled set by projecting the Purple One on a screen and covering his tune I Would Die 4U.

  17. 2019: Maroon 5

    Critics complained that the organisers were playing it safe by booking the US band, but they were joined by Outkasts's Big Boi and Travis Scott to cross those genres.

    Adam Levine of the band Maroon 5 performs during halftime of Super Bowl LIII, 2019.
    Adam Levine of the band Maroon 5 performs during halftime of Super Bowl LIII, 2019. Picture: Newscom / Alamy Stock Photo
  18. 2020: Jennifer Lopez and Shakira

    The ladies take centre stage with this curiously retro entry into the Super Bowl pantheon.

  19. 2021: The Weeknd

    The Canadian musician apparently spent $7 million to make his halftime show that extra bit special.

    The Weeknd performs during the Super Bowl LV halftime show, February 2021
    The Weeknd performs during the Super Bowl LV halftime show, February 2021. Picture: UPI / Alamy Stock Photo

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