Eminem, Dr. Dre, Mary J. Blige, and Snoop Dogg perform at the 2022 Super Bowl halftime show.
Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Roc Nation
Football fans might not realize it, just enough of Americans but attend Super Bowl parties for seven-layer dip, liberal drinking, and the nationally televised popular concert otherwise known every bit the Super Bowl halftime bear witness. For decades, the bear witness would simply feature a college marching band or ii, with a performance past Andy Williams or Upwardly With People tossed in for skillful measure, simply that all changed in 1993. That’south the year when Michael Jackson turned the Super Basin halftime evidence into must-picket television.
In the decades since Jackson created the halftime testify every bit nosotros know it, the Super Bowl has run through remarkably different eras of performance — the millennial MTV revue, the classic-rock revival of the tardily aughts, the pop divafication of recent years — but tradition and purpose unite them all. The mode has always been pastiche, combining disparate elements into a cohesive whole that celebrates American culture. That’southward the quality nosotros’re looking for above all, as we rank all of the Super Basin halftime shows since 1993, from worst to best.
The first thing you need to understand about this halftime show: Disney owns ABC, so they decided to hijack 12 minutes of America’due south fourth dimension for a huge commercial for some Cirque du Soleil rip-off called the “Disney Millenium Performance.” There were a agglomeration of puppets and people in crazy costumes, which was kind of cool, but they all looked like robot overlords from a machine future that was obsessed with New Age healing and wheatgrass shots. To make information technology even worse, each performer sang an original vocal, so the audience didn’t recognize any of it. I would have given annihilation to hear “Sussudio” — instead, we got Phil Collins in a backwards Kangol hat and the world’due south saddest cargo pants, singing something called “Two Worlds.” Oh, and Edward James Olmos kept coming out to offer weird narration like, “Equally it does every thousand years, the gateway of time has opened once once again to give us hope.” Thanks, simply no thanks.
There is nothing sadder than a country spectacular, especially when the virtually imaginative performance available is a horde of people dressed equally cowboys and cowgirls. Sure, it’s a pop genre, but a huge clamper of the audience had no clue what “Tuckered Out” or “It’s a Little Too Tardily” were, or why they needed to care about bland smiling girls in 10-gallon hats. To brand information technology worse, the people on the field appeared to exist moving around carrying fluorescent light bulbs. This was a halftime evidence to forget.
Maroon five’s halftime show was exactly like all of Maroon 5’s music: so prophylactic and antiseptic that you hardly retrieve it’southward there until yous’re watching a Super Bowl halftime show and you realize you know every single one of the songs and you lot desire to crevice yourself over the caput with the
guitar gathering dust in your cupboard. At that place was almost no acknowledgement in this set that it was taking place on the largest annual stage in America. We got a few lame pyrotechnics, an almost entirely female person audience gathered around the stage jumping and clamoring for Adam Levine like they were paid to, a SpongeBob SquarePants introduction, and performances by Travis Scott and Atlanta’southward own Big Boi shoehorned in between some of Levine’southward crooning. The whiplash between these artists was enough to requite viewers a concussion disorder. In a year when no one wanted to perform at the halftime show, this was the best the NFL could practice, a firework that extinguished itself mid-flight.
There are two notable things about this functioning: (ane) The Rolling Stones played on a stage shaped similar the band’s lips-and-tongue logo, and (2) the people of Detroit, where that yr’south game was played, were pissed considering no Motown artist was asked to perform. Also, the Stones only did three songs. Three. And one of them was their latest single, “Crude Justice.” A annotation to the Rolling Stones: No one wants to hear the new stuff, specially at the Super Bowl.
Since the game was in New Orleans, I suppose the theme made sense. What didn’t was letting Jim Belushi sing “Soul Homo” and “Gimme Some Lovin’.” Yep, they let Jim Belushi sing. It was like watching your uncle exercise karaoke, except there were tons of girls in tiny outfits gyrating everywhere while a marching band spelled out words on the field and pyrotechnics exploded into the abyss. So ZZ Top played “Legs” while the dancers laid on their backs and, um, showed off their legs. Even with James Chocolate-brown, this halftime show needed a whole lot more of something. Anything, really.
Yep, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy played the Super Bowl and we will never exist able to take that away from them. But while pastiche is the best way to create a great halftime evidence, this ane was just likewise much. They threw a bunch of stuff at the wall, then it all stuck and stayed there for a few weeks and got moldy. Gloria Estefan killed it, of course, and Stevie Wonder was neat, only the sound mix was off the whole time. Two all-fourth dimension greats wasted on a spectacle that was absolutely hollow at its core.
Justin Timberlake is a sometime member of NSYNC, husband to Jessica Biel, ex-boyfriend of Britney Spears, bout mate of Christina Aguilera, and co-Emmy winner (for “Dick in a Box”) with Andy Samberg. He couldn’t enlist the aid of any of those people to enliven what was the most wearisome Super Basin halftime evidence of the mod era? Instead, we got a projection of Prince on a giant sail while Timberlake sang “I Would Die 4 U.” Information technology was certainly a reminder of the Majestic 1’s iconic halftime performance — and in his hometown, no less — but otherwise this was a dull, sick-conceived, and muddled performance. It started with Timberlake singing nether the stadium in what felt like a small club show, but fifty-fifty when he came onto the master stage, it still had the same feeling. The Super Bowl is non the fourth dimension for intimate numbers. It is a time for spectacle and Justin left it (and all of his famous friends) at home. Lady Gaga jumped off the roof! Katy Perry rode in on a giant lion! Beyoncé shot Kelly and Michelle through the floor to sing “Single Ladies!” Justin Timberlake just roamed around frantically and then played the piano while wearing an outfit that looked similar it could double as an billboard for discount hunting shop. What a horrible way to ruin #JanetJacksonAppreciationDay.
At that place were lasers and some singing. In that location was a faithful version of “Baba O’Riley” and other songs used past CBS procedurals. I guess the phase was kinda absurd. Apathetic.
Was this a halftime show or a playlist for a very brusque car ride? Shania did “Homo! I Experience Like a Adult female” without even ane fill-in dancer or costume alter. Next, Gwen Stefani performed “Only a Girl” with her backing ring. There has been no bigger whiplash betwixt two bands in the history of the Super Bowl. Finally, Sting appeared and Stefani joined him for “Message in a Canteen.” That’s information technology. Finito. The but flourishes were the punk-rock cheerleaders jumping on trampolines, and even that came about seven minutes into the show. Yawn.
Tom Niggling is one of our country’south greatest underappreciated assets. Of all the acts to get up and play the start four songs off their greatest-hits album, Petty’south — “American Daughter,” “I Won’t Back Downwards,” “Free Fallin,’” and “Runnin’ Down a Dream” — are peradventure the most solid all the way through. But, man, couldn’t he have at least enlisted a few dancers to liven things up?
This was America’s punishment for Janet Jackson’s nipple: an old white dude standing in the middle of an LED stage, playing the guitar past himself. This show was safer than having sex in a panic room with 3 condoms and all of your clothes on. There’s no denying McCartney’due south brilliance, but he just ran through “Drive My Car,” “Get Dorsum,” “Live and Let Die,” and “Hey Jude” with no intermission or embellishment that could possibly shock or offend the very fragile American sensibility. Just hey, at least there was an LED phase!
Information technology started with small children holding hands in front of American flags and concluded with soldiers dedicating “Just the Way You lot Are” to their families. Nine out of 10 dentists say this is plenty saccharine to give every American spontaneous cavities. Mars did a competent chore, just a year after Beyoncé made a political statement with her all-female person performance, Mars reverted dorsum to the usual by filling the stage with a bunch of dudes, including Red Hot Chili Peppers. Information technology was uninspired, plus it didn’t seem like Mars had achieved Super Basin headliner condition.
What we needed was Bruce Springsteen and what nosotros got was an Irishman yelling “America!” in front of a giant imprint printed with the names of anybody who died in the nine/11 attacks. The U2 performance was a simple and pared-down affair, which seemed fitting for the zeitgeist, but still information technology was strange to hear what sounded similar auspicious every bit Bono sang “Where the Streets Have No Names” and the nation mourned.
Before the large twenty-four hours my female parent said to me, “They go on talking virtually the halftime show and saying ‘This Weekend’ but they haven’t said who the performer is.” The Weeknd got to show my mother and the nation he has more hits than you realize and is immensely talented. But in this coronavirus-infested earth, we’ll never know if his somewhat sleepy mini concert was due to a lack of imagination or COVID restrictions. For virtually of his 12 minutes he just stood in the aforementioned ruby sparkly jacket singing in front of risers filled with musicians and backup singers. Two songs in, he ventured under the ready with a jittery handheld camera into a glittering maze for “Can’t Feel My Face up” and it seemed like things were finally going in a different direction, only then he was right back in front of the risers with no choreography at all. Information technology took until the ten-infinitesimal marking when he was joined on the field itself by legions of dancers in tight formation (or was it the designated 6-feet separation?) for the Weeknd’s first costume modify into… some other red sparkly jacket. This was a functioning that dragged and one completely without the pastiche or spectacle that nosotros’ve come up to expect from the halftime show. But, on the other manus, my mom now knows who the Weeknd is, so mission accomplished.
During the sad era of aging rockers playing their greatest hits without flourish or interruption, Springsteen was the only i who seemed to have some fun. “I want y’all to step abroad from the guacamole dip! I want you lot to put the chicken wings downwards and turn your television all the way up!” he told the audience as his set started. Springsteen is one of the American masters — why he didn’t play the post-nine/11 halftime show, I’ll never know — and “tenth Artery Freeze Out,” “Built-in to Run,” “Working on a Dream,” and “Glory Days” are all certifiable jams. Still, there wasn’t anything y’all couldn’t get here from one of the Boss’s concerts, so he falls a few spots.
This could take been a staid look at an older genre of music, simply then Latifah and Boyz II Men came in and injected some youthful free energy into what otherwise looked like a very professional loftier-school talent prove. Boyz II Men disappointed past using nigh of their time onstage for their new unmarried “A Song for Mama,” which is soundly atrocious. Luckily for Martha Reeves, whose singing sounded similar a squirrel was humping her larynx during “Heat Wave,” Twitter didn’t be back in 1998 or at that place would have been a whole lot of Left Sharking about the audio. Still this was wholesome family fun for all ages.
This was less of a halftime testify and more than of a Stefon
skit. It had cobras playing drums, peasants making offerings to the gods, Indiana Jones flying on a parachute, a Satanic ritual involving the Super Bowl trophy, people on stilts, Patti LaBelle dressed as a demonic sequin goddess, throngs of shirtless dancers, a flaming ninja, a stage total of spikes, and Tony Bennett singing an quondam song. I of the few Disney-produced shows, this was pure army camp insanity. Information technology sure wasn’t the best evidence, only it’south yet ane of my favorites.
I never idea I’d say this, simply the Black Eyed Peas were pretty adept at the Super Bowl. Dressed up like the cast of a
Non Tron XXX: A Porn Parody, the foursome descended from thin air, ushering in a pop-heavy era of halftime shows. This laid the groundwork for Madonna, Beyoncé, and all the residual, with a field full of dancers in glowing costumes and a futuristic theme that featured Conductor and Slash popping upward from under the stage to play “Sweet Kid of Mine” for Fergie. Sadly, the sound sucked and the stage, meant to spell “LOVE” in lights when viewed from above, was missing one prong of its 5. It’south really too bad they had to sing all of those Blackness Eyed Peas songs.
The best moment of this celebration of Latin culture, and particularly hips-not-lying Latin dance, came when J.Lo was joined onstage past her daughter, Emme, to sing “Let’s Go Loud” along with a armada of other tween girls whose mothers were, no doubt, trip the light fantastic toe mom–ing on the sidelines. There were also kids in lit-up cages scattered around the field, and Emme broke into a chorus of “Born in the USA” while her mother, sporting 1 of her many glittering bodysuits, showed off a behemothic plumage cape with the American flag on one side and the Puerto Rican flag on the other. It was a forceful tip of the hat to the electric current political state of affairs of immigrants, particularly those from S and Central America. Things moved on from that moment with the speed of Shakira shaking her hips. The whole functioning was incredibly frenetic, whipping from i stage piece to the next earlier the audience could even figure out what was going on. There were plenty of highlights — like J.Lo pole dancing on the spire of the Empire State Building — and the audience could not even finish request, “Why is Shakira dancing with a random piece of rope?” before she had moved on to another bit of whimsy (including the zaghrouta heard round the world). With two superstars in superlative course, information technology’s hard not to be swaddled in their cute glittery comprehend.
This technologically advanced performance included a literal constellation of drones, a dive off the roof of the stadium, and dancers tossing glowing spears that looked similar a weapon out of
Star Trek. At that place was even a keytar and a circular piano like the one at the Mos Eisley cantina. Lady Gaga has always been like Ziggy Stardust’due south bratty younger sister, and that was the theme she stuck to throughout, from her diamond phone for “Telephone” to the crystal orb she brandished to the audience. But we never got more than that polished public persona. Gaga did hits like “Poker Face,” “Born This Way,” and “Bad Romance” without notable reinvention or retooling in the fashion that Madonna, Prince, and Beyoncé did with their old gems. Besides, she didn’t have any guest performances, while the merely covers were those (possibly) political numbers at the opening. A Lady Gaga concert is e’er a spectacular affair, and this certainly was, simply she needed to cast her net wider for such an all-embracing cultural upshot.
Just because y’all’re the get-go doesn’t mean y’all do it best. For starters, the networks hadn’t quite figured out how to broadcast a halftime show all the same. It’due south hard to hear the music over all of the cheering (which lasted
a full three minutes
before a annotation was even played), at that place was a commercial pause in the middle of the program, and the game was in California, so it wasn’t quite night out. Besides, the production is painfully sincere in that fashion Michael Jackson loved: Instead of reaching into his packed back catalogue, he performed “We Are the Globe” with a children’due south choir, then did “Heal the Globe” while an enormous globe inflated in the centre of the stage. Sure, he as well did “Billie Jean” and moonwalked, but for a complete showman, Michael Jackson could have done more.
Although it was supposed to be Coldplay’southward twelvemonth, they wound up basically ceding the stage to Beyoncé and Bruno Mars. Thank God for those guest performances because Coldplay’s contribution was pure Technicolor vomit. Information technology was like a hippie van collided with a pigment manufactory. Things got much better in one case Beyoncé showed upwards dressed every bit Michael Jackson from his 1993 functioning with a legion of fill-in girls for “Germination.” Bruno Mars came out with a bunch of boys for “Uptown Funk” and the two of them squared off in the chicest battle of the sexes always. Distressing, everyone else: This was Bey’s moment, and it immediately joins Michael’s as 1 of the most iconic. Too bad everything else had to drag her down.
Whatsoever this inexplicable theme was supposed to be, the real thought hither was excess. Janet running around with countless dancers on a stage that looked similar if the Fortress of Solitude were built by Cirque du Soleil, Diddy riding a moving platform through a body of water of smoke, Nelly coming out in a giant red motorcar to sing “Hot in Here,” and Kid Stone somehow managing to wear four embarrassing outfits (including a poncho made from an American flag). Yes, Justin ripped off Janet’southward boob roofing and we saw a bit of nip. Whatsoever. It was still a really good show.
Diana Ross was considered a safe choice for Super Bowl XXX, but only a diva of her magnitude could pull off such a shocking performance. It starts off with her descending from the sky on a sparking platform, slowing considerably through a medley of her biggest hits, similar “Baby Love” and “End in the Proper noun of Love” with tuxedo-clad dancers all around her. Then you realize that Ross has inverse her outfit for
every unmarried song. And then you realize that the behemothic gold cape she’s wearing is slowly enveloping the
equally she rises
iii stories in the air,
singing “Own’t No Mountain High Enough.” And then yous realize that
is going to land
in the middle of the field. Diana gets in, waves to the crowd, and and then flies off,
sitting on the edge of the helicopter. Try to top that, Gaga.
Thank you to the unforgettable and meme-able antics of the “Left Shark,” this performance will be remembered for years to come, simply it was also a technical marvel to behold. Perry arrives on the back of a giant panthera leo puppet while singing “Roar,” so wound upwardly being dragged around the sky, singing “Firework” and riding the More than Y’all Know shooting-star logo. There was lots to enjoy in the eye, namely bringing Missy Elliott onstage to do her thing on three — yes
— of her own songs. The psychedelic ’60s pop-art color scheme was unforgettable, every bit was the message that Katy sent: At the Super Bowl, it’s a good thing to share the spotlight.
By today’s standards, Justin Timberlake, a still-closeted Lance Bass, and the rest of NSYNC doing “Bye Bye Good day” while Steven Tyler pulled heartstrings with “I Don’t Desire to Miss a Affair” might non seem revolutionary — especially considering the dated metal outfits — but it definitely felt that mode at the time. This was the showtime year that fans were allowed on the field surrounding the stage, which made the show feel more like a traditional concert — granted one where Timberlake literally shot fireworks out of his easily like he was one of the 10-Men. The fan interaction, which has since become a staple, brought a whole new energy to the proceedings. When surprise guests Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, and Nelly came out for a thoroughly rousing finale of “Walk This Fashion,” both the older dudes who love Aerosmith and their teenage daughters lost their collective minds.
The mod halftime show evolved from a behemothic showcase for one pop-music behemothic to incorporating a number of popular acts so dorsum again. Dr. Dre figured out a way to make it both. His 15-minute survey of the last quarter-century of hip-hop kicked off with him and Snoop treating the 50.A. crowd to snippets of “The Next Episode” and “California Love,” before bringing in a number of other marquee names and their early-2000s hits: a surprise 50 Cent hanging upside down for “In Da Club”; Mary J. Blige, in an outfit that was both mirroredand leopard print, absolutely destroying “Family unit Thing” and “No More than Drama”; and Eminem imploring the crowd to “Lose Yourself” backed by a ring that included Anderson .Paak on drums and Dre himself, standing in front of a glossy white mixing board as a reminder of who produced most of these bangers. Add together in Kendrick Lamar and a phalanx of highly choreographed dancers in the middle for some modern jams in “m.A.A.d City” and “Alright” and Dre and Snoop bringing information technology home with grouping singalong to “Still D.R.East.” and it all adds upward to cracking show that was happy to revel in the hits. Offering up a master class on how to pull off what can exist the almost thankless gig in American music, Dre merely loses some points for the set, arranged like a number of compartmentalized house parties that made the spectacle feel a chip claustrophobic at times. Other than that, though, the prove was a great reminder that Dre is way more but the headphones guy, without looking similar an ego trip.
If the Super Bowl allowed ties, Queen Bey would share the top spot with the next ii performances. Her 2013 product was extravagant and jaw-dropping, while the all-black costumes and toned-down aesthetic provided a composure that other artists only tin can’t emulate. The music was spot on, springing from “Crazy in Love” to “Baby Male child” and all the way to “Halo” equally a swooping finale. Information technology just barely loses a few points, though, considering her operation didn’t offering enough pastiche. The stage was literally made to look like two of her profiles facing each other, while a behemothic paradigm of Beyoncé burned above information technology. Yes, information technology was a totally awe-inducing performance, but information technology didn’t include even one costume change. The just guests were her former Destiny’south Child bandmates, who together sung “Unmarried Ladies,” which wasn’t even one of their songs. Still, Beyoncé only had women performers on that phase, an beauteous modify and a powerful message.
A year later the halftime bear witness embraced its popular sensibilities with the Black-Eyed Peas, Madonna arrived as a Greek goddess on a giant litter carried by a legion of Spartan soldiers, showing all the kids exactly how it’s done. There was and then much on the LED-lit phase at whatever given time: From the swirling dancers and the gospel choir to the slackline performer, information technology was
too much. Madonna offered new arrangements of her old songs, like a drum-corps version of “Open up Your Heart” sung with Cee Lo Dark-green and an LMFAO mashup of “Music” with “Party Rock Anthem.” While she loses points for devoting significant time to the lackluster single “Give Me All Your Luvin,” at least that featured Nicki Minaj and a bird-flipping MIA. Madonna successfully moved through several modes in rapid succession, collaborated with other big artists, and made it all expect effortless, as if being at the swirling center of 200 performers is what she does every Tuesday. Maybe because it is.
The absolute best Super Basin halftime functioning of them all. Prince’s show wasn’t the about extravagant, but even today, information technology thrills and excites. In the heart of a stage shaped in the “Artist Formerly Known As Prince” symbol, the Purple I opened with the strains of Queen’s “Nosotros Will Rock Yous” before switching gears with “Let’s Get Crazy.” Then the Florida A&M University marching band, strapped with glowing lights, joined in for a new organization of “Baby I’m a Star” that recognizes the history of halftime shows past. This musical journey veered through covers of “Proud Mary” and “All Forth the Watchtower” before ending with a huge scrim shot up into the dark sky, with Prince’s giant backlit silhouette projected as he shredded the guitar solo from “Majestic Rain.” Oh, and he did the whole thing
in the pouring pelting. Who could ever summit that?
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