It wasn’t until 1991 that the NFL realized they could have a show within a show. Before 1991, the Superbowl halftime show was akin to a typical college football halftime performance. A lot of marching bands and sometimes floats. Fast forward thirty years and the Superbowl halftime show is the most coveted live performance of the year.
This weekend the Weeknd will be gracing the stages in a unique, covid restricted, Superbowl performance. So in honor of what is set to be a memorable show, let’s take a look at the best that came before it.
The list below is in order by year of performance.
Michael Jackson (1993)
The King of Pop is known for turning the Superbowl halftime show into what it is today. Michael Jackson was just a few years removed from his last big studio album, “Dangerous”. A series of Michael Jackson look-a-likes popped up around the stadium before the real Michael emerged from the stage floor. Jackson stood on the stage for a full minute before even moving. And then he proceeded to dance into 10 straight minutes of quintessential Michael Jackson.
Just a few months after 9/11, Bono and crew took to the stage with a minimalist, heartfelt performance at the Super bowl. It was what we all needed. The image of U2 singing “The Streets Have No Name” as the names of those lost during 9/11 flanked them on a billowing screen was sublime.
Prince singing Purple Rain in the rain is just iconic. And so very Prince. Prince was told before hand that it was going to rain for the first time in super bowl history. He resonded, “Can you make it rain harder?”
Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band (2009)
60-year-old Springsteen did a full stage slide into the camera. It’s the least glitzy superbowl halftime show on the list. But, Bruce Springsteen still made it hard to divert your eyes. His charisma and notoriety as a performer was on full display.
Queen Bey showed up and even brought Destiny’s Child with her. It’s more than we can say for Justin’s lackluster 2018 performance. I think we can all agree an NSYNC appearance would’ve been better than what he turned out.
Lady Gaga (2017)
Gaga started the show by jumping off the stadium roof. (Well that was taped, but still).
The Queen of Pop (sorry Madonna), played a melody of her greatest hits including, Born this Way, Bad Romance, Poker Face and more. The only thing people were talking about pre-performance was what political statement Gaga would make after the inauguration of Donald Trump. But, Gaga wasn’t as 2010 Gaga as we expected. She managed to subtly say her piece and put on a great show.
J.Lo and Shakira (2020)
It’s hard to believe that this was just a year ago. This superbowl halftime show, gave us the first memeable moment of 2020 with Shakira’s tongue wag heard ’round the world. If you were like me, you sat in awe finding out that Shakira is part of mensa and that she can apparently play a whole host of instruments. The show was supposedly headlined by J.Lo. But if we’re honest Shakira stole the whole the thing. Sorry J.LO.
What do you think? What is the best Superbowl halftime show?
Kaeley is a contemporary artist and cultural organizer who loves good espresso and a cold Coke Zero.