The Super Bowl halftime show often generates as much attention as the game itself as global music stars usually perform to a huge worldwide audience. This year, for example, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem and Mary J. Blige are all set to take to the stage in the interval of Super Bowl LVI between the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals.
There have been plenty of memorable performances down the years and here we countdown the top five greatest halftime shows to have featured as part of America’s biggest annual sporting spectacle.
5 – Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson – 2004
Probably the most infamous halftime show in Super Bowl history came in 2004 when Justin Timberlake appeared to ‘accidentally’ rip off Janet Jackson’s chest covering after the two had performed and danced together. The controversial incident was explained afterwards as a “wardrobe malfunction” but Timberlake apologised and producers MTV were heavily criticised.
Jessica Simpson, P Diddy and Kid Rock were among the other artists on show that year but their performances are largely forgotten after being overshadowed by the controversy.
4 – Katy Perry – 2015
American star Katy Perry headlined the 2015 halftime show and was joined by special guests Lenny Kravitz and Missy Elliott in Arizona.
So good was this particular halftime show that it was watched by more viewers than the game itself between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks, and it also won two Emmy Awards later that year.
Perry roared through some of her biggest hits, including ‘I Kissed A Girl’ and ‘Teenage Dream’ with the help of Elliott and Kravitz, while she finished with a dazzling version of ‘Firework’. Her backing dancers garnered plenty of attention throughout when appearing in several different beach-themed costumes, including two dressed as sharks. ‘Left Shark’, as they became known afterwards, received significant fan and media attention due to their eye-catching dance moves.
3 – U2 – 2002
Irish rock legends U2 served up a poignant tribute to the 9/11 New York terror attacks, which had taken place just five months earlier, when they performed in New Orleans in 2002.
They only sang three songs, ‘Beautiful Day’ ,’MLK’ – which was accompanied by the names of those who had lost their lives on a giant screen in the background – and ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’, but it was enough to register this as one of the best-constructed and most fitting halftime Super Bowl events ever.
Lead singer Bono ripped open his jacket to display the American flag inside in what was an unfortgettable end to the show.
2 – Beyonce – 2013
Beyonce’s epic 2013 appearance in New Orleans has gone down in history as she first wowed the crowd and massive TV audience with five of her own hits before she was reunited on stage with surprise special guests Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams from the trio’s former band, Destiny’s Child.
It went down at the time as the second most watched show in Super Bowl history with 110.8 million viewers and such was the extensive nature of the glittering production that a power failure caused half the lights at the Superdome to go out afterwards, resulting in a 34-minute blackout.
1 – Prince – 2007
Prince performed a 12-minute masterclass which the New York Times said would “surely go down as one of the most thrilling halftime shows ever”.
They were right as the pop icon started off with a cover of Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’, before mixing Bob Dylan’s ‘All Along the Watchtower’ and the Foo Fighters’ ‘Best of You’. He ended his set with an emotional rendition of huge hit ‘Purple Rain’, which went down a storm, as the appropriate rainy Miami weather only served to add to the occasion perfectly.