Super Bowl 50 is right around the corner. If you’re like us, you’re just as excited for the halftime spectacular as you are for the big game. We are anticipating that the NFL will pull out all the stops to celebrate half a century of football’s biggest game.
But before we kick off the festivities, we thought it was the right time to enshrine some of the most memorable Super Bowl Halftime Shows from the past 25 years, which is the time when Super Bowl Halftime Shows shifted from featuring incredible marching band ensembles to headlining top pop stars alongside stunning visual and stage productions. Check out these jaw-dropping moments from the big game’s biggest halftime performances to get you prepped and pumped for an awesome serenade from Beyoncé and Coldplay.
1. Super Bowl XXVII: Michael Jackson, Rose Bowl – 1993
Hoping to create a stellar Super Bowl halftime, TV execs tapped the biggest pop star at the time (and maybe ever)—Michael Jackson. With 3,500 local children joining MJ on hits like “Billie Jean” and “We Are the World”, the King of Pop attracted more viewers than the actual game.
2. Super Bowl XXX: Diana Ross, Sun Devil Stadium – 1996
The disco diva and former lead singer of The Supremes made her own superlative appearance at the Super Bowl. For her finale, she climbed to the peak of a gold mountain and sang “Take Me Higher” as a helicopter swooped in to take her away—a perfectly over-the-top exit for Super Bowl XXX.
3. Super Bowl XXXVI: U2, Louisiana Superdome – 2002
Following the tragic attacks on the World Trade Center, everyone was wondering how the Irish rockers would respond. During “Where the Streets Have No Name”, a backdrop was raised all the way to the top of the stadium with of all the names of those who lost their lives in the attacks, then in an act of solidarity Bono raised his arm to reveal an American flag sewn into his coat.
4. Super Bowl XXXVII: Shania Twain, No Doubt, and Sting, Qualcomm Stadium – 2003
Super Bowl XXXVII definitely brought the excitement, opening with Shania Twain singing “Man! I Feel Like a Woman”. Gwen Stefani upped the ante by doing push-ups during No Doubt’s “Just a Girl”, before Sting chilled everyone out with the mega hit “Message in a Bottle”.
5. Super Bowl XXXVIII: Janet Jackson & Justin Timberlake, Reliant Stadium – 2004
It was one eventful halftime, but nothing could eclipse the performances of pop superstars Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake. And with rappers P. Diddy, Kid Rock, and Nelly dropping the beat, the excitement was dialed up to 11.
6. Super Bowl XL: The Rolling Stones, Ford Field – 2006
The biggest sports event in the world finally got the biggest band: The Rolling Stones. They played their hearts out on hits like “Start Me Up” and “Satisfaction” on a stage shaped like their infamous tongue logo, while Stones superfans got to get up-close-and-personal with the band in the middle of Ford Field.
7. Super Bowl XLI: Prince, Sun Life Stadium – 2007
Taking a page from the Rolling Stones the year before, Prince let the crowd have it with a larger than life spectacular. Whether he was shaking his groove thing on hits like “Let’s Go Crazy” or reinventing classic rock staples like “All Along the Watch Tower” and “Proud Mary”, Miami fans couldn’t deny the power of the Purple One.
8. Super Bowl XLVI: Madonna, Lucas Oil Stadium – 2012
There were other huge stars (Nicki Minaj, LMFAO, Cee Lo Green, and performers from Cirque du Soleil) on the stage, but the world tuned in to see the Material Girl in action. After making a Cleopatra-like entrance, she nailed favorites like “Vogue”, “Express Yourself”, and “Like a Prayer”.
9. Super Bowl XLVIII: Bruno Mars & Red Hot Chili Peppers, MetLife Stadium – 2014
Wearing a golden tuxedo jacket and a skyscraper-sized pompadour, Bruno Mars had audiences singing along with hits like “Treasure” and “Runaway Baby”. But things really heated up when Red Hot Chili Peppers took the stage to play the infectious funk of “Give It Away”, getting booties across America shaking in the process.
10. Super Bowl XLIX: Katy Perry, University of Phoenix Stadium – 2015
Sure, there were Super Bowl extravaganzas before… but no one managed to bring us into her own little world quite like Katy Perry. The flamboyant popstar tore through hits like “Roar” and “I Kissed a Girl” before she flew out of the stadium on a tiger for her “Firework” finale.
On top of these 10 hot performances, there are many other amazing Super Bowl Halftime Shows, and we’d be careless not to call out Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child at Super Bowl XLVII, Aerosmith (plus, ‘N Sync, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, and Nelly) at Super Bowl XXXV, and The Who at Super Bowl XLIV…and the list goes on! So tell us, what’s your favorite Super Bowl Halftime Show?