The best ever Superbowl Half-Time performances

2 February 2020, 17:00 | Updated: 5 February 2021, 18:01

Prince performs during the "Pepsi Halftime Show" at Super Bowl XLI  in 2007
Prince performs during the "Pepsi Halftime Show" at Super Bowl XLI in 2007. Picture: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

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”.

2021's performer will be The Weeknd. The Canadian musician will be performing at a very different Superbowl, midway through the battle between the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay on 7 February. He's apparently spent $7 million to make it that extra bit special.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  14. 2016: Coldplay

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

  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.

  18. 2020: Jennifer Lopez and Shakira

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


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