Pop Culture: Top 10 Super Bowl Halftime Performances
Updated: Nov 23, 2021
Milan Naropanth ‘23 and Graham Walter ‘23
The annual NFL Super Bowl looked a little different this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers took the win against the Kansas City Chiefs during the game. In the traditional halftime show, popular Canadian singer, songwriter, and record producer Abel “The Weeknd” Tesfaye performed outstandingly. Inspired by his great performance, we will be sharing our personal list of the top ten Super Bowl halftime performances of all time!
#10: Michael Jackson (1993)
Michael Jackson’s performance revolutionized the concept of a halftime show. Before Jackson performed, the halftime show was not a very popular or captivating event because ‘A’ list celebrities and singers would rarely take the stage. However, Jackson’s performance changed this to set a new norm—his show was truly mesmerizing. Jackson performed popular songs like “Billie Jean” and “Black or White” during his 17 minute performance.
#9: The Weeknd (2021)
During the age of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Super Bowl needed a creative mind who could entertain not only a limited in-person audience, but also a majority virtual crowd. The Weeknd spent $7 million of his own money in order to keep the players and staff safe and host a creative show. The Weeknd, as a solo performer, played many of his hits like “Starboy” and “Blinding Lights” that captivated viewers around the world.
#8: Coldplay, Beyoncé, and Bruno Mars (2016)
#7: Beyoncé (2013)
Beyoncé’s 2013 halftime performance was so cinematically coordinated that it could have won a Grammy. She performed hit songs like “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” and “Crazy in Love” that kept the audience hooked for the entire 13 minute production. This performance did not fail to entertain fans; in fact, real fire was used in an orbit-style around the stage during her performance of “Independent Women, Pt. 1.”
#6: Diana Ross (1996)
Diana Ross captivated audiences during her halftime performance in Super Bowl XXX, celebrating the 30th year of the Super Bowl. Her performance was highlighted by a medley of her hit songs, multiple outfit changes, and dancers spilling onto the field. Diana’s performance ended in dramatic fashion as she finished her closing song flying away in a helicopter. This was definitely a legendary performance and one to remember!
#5: Lady Gaga (2017)
Gaga’s acrobatic performance was nothing less than fantastic. Gaga walked the stage fearlessly with her shiny outfit, performing popular songs like “Poker Face” and “Bad Romance,” many of which were from her debut album. There was not a single second that passed where the stadium wasn’t filled with ecstatic and cheering fans.
#4: U2 (2002)
The Irish rock band U2 performed in Super Bowl XXXVI, bringing an unmatched energy and grandness to the set. Aside from their beautiful presentation and performance, they had a very touching tribute to 9/11 victims, as the Super Bowl took place 6 months after the horrific attack. U2 provided a great and hopeful performance during dark times for many.
#3: The Rolling Stones (2006)
The Rolling Stones came out with fantastic energy during the 2006 halftime show, performing smash hits including “Satisfaction”. While they only played three songs, their degree of professionalism as musicians combined with their youthful energy to create an amazing performance.
#2: Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers (2014)
From the extravagant drumming of Bruno Mars on his moving stage, to his collaboration with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, this halftime show was an all-around success. Bruno Mars filled the MetLife stadium in New Jersey with energy as he played hits like “Locked Out of Heaven” and “Treasure.” Fans were thoroughly entertained throughout the entire show, and critics say it was nothing less than fantastic.
#1: Prince (2007)
Super Bowl XLI, a game with heavy rainfall, was met with much anticipation for the musical legend, Prince. His performance included hits from countless other bands, covering songs including “We Will Rock You” by Queen. The Florida A&M University Marching band even joined Prince for songs like “1999” and “Proud Mary.” During Prince’s “Purple Rain,” it actually started raining! His performance ended with an epic guitar solo to close his song “Purple Rain,” marking, in our opinion, the greatest Super Bowl halftime performance in history!