SPORTS fans look forward to the actual game on Super Bowl, celebrity fans are after the star-studded commercials, and some nonsports fans just want to enjoy the half-time show—one of the most-anticipated live musical events of the year.
#1 PRINCE (2007)
Both CBS Sports and Billboard ranked the late Prince’s 2007 performance as the best ever, with The Wrap ranking it as the seventh best. Prince performed with an assist from a marching band and a backup vocalist. He played his guitar on stage, which was in the form of a symbol associated with him when he wanted to be known as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince. It was raining that night but it didn’t stop Prince from giving an electrifying performance. “The rocker powered through his own classics ('1999,' 'Let’s Go Crazy') and the classics of others ('Proud Mary,' 'All Along the Watchtower'). But the explosive coda was 'Purple Rain,' which had the stadium full of
Today (Sunday night in the US), the New England Patriots will battle it out with the Philadelphia Eagles for Super Bowl LII. And to take the edge off, Justin Timberlake will entertain the crowd and the television audience during the halftime mark.
This will not be Timberlake’s testosterone-pumped football fanatics waving their arms and howling in falsetto,” Billboard remembered the performance. CBS Sports said: “Marching band, check. Actual rain, check. Controversial use of Prince symbol-shaped guitar to make a giant phallic symbol? Check! ... Best Super Bowl halftime show ever. And it’s not even close.”
#2 U2 (2002)
The Wrap called U2’s 2002 half-time show, which included a tribute to those who died in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the best ever; Billboard called it a runnerup to Prince’s while CBS Sports ranked it sixth. And just like Prince, U2 did not employ the help of a fellow musician to get the crowd going. The Wrap first foray into the Super Bowl stage. He, along with his former NSYNC bandmates, took the stage with Aerosmith in 2001. The two groups were then joined by Britney Spears, Nelly and Mary J. Blige.
Then Timberlake infamously returned in 2004 as a solo artist to remembered the performance: “There will likely never be a halftime show bigger than this one. Mounted just four months after 9/11, U2’s show was a perfect mix of poignant remembrance and breathtaking musicianship. In a beautiful tribute, U2 performed ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ in front of a scrolling list of those who perished in the terror attack. To this day, the show still draws tears.”
#3 BEYONCE (2013)
A lot of the halftime shows are a collaboration of two artists or more. And while Beyonce mostly performed on her own— surrounded by dozens of dancers—she did enlist the help of her Destiny’s Child sistahs Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams aid Janet Jackson in the halftime show. It was then that the term “wardrobe malfunction” was invented. Nobody even remembered Nelly also returning to the stage that year.
Here are six of the best halftime shows—out of the 51 already staged—according to CBS for a part of her set. CBS Sports thinks it was the third best halftime show so far while Billboard pegged it as the fifth best and The Wrap ranked it sixth. “Of course she’s on this list. It’s BEYONCE, for crying out loud. She has a stage presence that is unrivaled by any musician of her generation. But what really made her show unique wasn’t just the surprise Destiny’s Child reunion. It was also the fact that she actually paid respect to the event by starting her show with a soundbite from legendary football coach Vince Lombardi,” The Wrap said of Queen Bey’s peformance.
#4 MICHAEL JACKSON (1993)
In terms of collaborations, nothing could beat the late Michael Jackson’s collaborators in his 1993 Sports, which will broadcast the game; Billboard, the expert in music, and The Wrap, an entertainment news portal. The three organizations ranked these six performances in their Top 10 best halftime shows ever. They had different opinions on the remaining four spots. performance: hundreds of children. Jackson’s Super Bowl halftime show is the oldest in this list. He didn’t enjoy the technologies available to Lady Gaga, Coldplay and Katy Perry—the last performers—but he still made one of the most memorable shows in 51 years. The audience helped out by raising cardboard that together showed drawings of children of different races. Then thousands of children, also of different races, joined Jackson on stage. “The best part, still, all these years later, is M.J. literally exploding out of the bottom of the stage and then just staring at the world for a full 90 seconds. This was the ultimate ‘Wait for it ... wait for it ... wait for it ...’ while the entire stadium screams,” remembered CBS Sports.
#5 JANET JACKSON (2004)
Eleven years after her older brother fired up the stage, Janet Jackson did the same, with a large help from this year’s performer: Justin Timberlake. It was a shame that a lot of people will remember the performance for its “nipplegate” because when one clips the end of the show, it is actually one of the best halftime spectacles ever. In fact, CBS Sports, Billboard and The Wrap all have a place for Jackson in each of their Top 10 favorites. It is also unfair that when talking about the 2004 halftime show, people only talk about Jackson and Timberlake when Diddy, Nelly and Kid Rock had their moments in that show. Jessica Simpson even appeared at the start to scream: “Houston choose to party!” The Super Bowl was held in her hometown of Houston, Texas. “The only thing people were talking about was Janet Jackson’s unique body jewelry. No one remembers that Kid Rock wore the American flag as a poncho ...or that Diddy used to fashion himself a rapper,” CBS Sports noted of the memorable event. For the record, Kid Rock slayed his performance.
#6 PAUL McCARTNEY (2005)
Sir Paul McCartney seemed like an odd choice for a Super Bowl halftime show considering the legend is more singersongwriter than an animated performer. But that was probably what Super Bowl needed a year after Janet Jackson showed off more than the Federal Communications Commission could handle. “How do you clean up the Super Bowl halftime show after Nipplegate? Enter Paul McCartney,” CBS Sports said. “Sir Paul’s show marked the beginning of the six-year classic rock era of halftime shows following the backlash from Jackson’s notorious wardrobe malfunction, and what a breath of fresh air it was. McCartney knew exactly what songs from his catalog would fill up a football stadium,” The Wrap said of the hit list that included “Drive My Car” and “Live And Let Die.” Billboard also stated: “Saving his best for last, McCartney signed off with ‘Hey Jude,’ during which the 84,000 in attendance all joined in for the iconic coda.”