What Are The Best Super Bowl Halftime Shows Ever, Ranked?

Pop culture

Even if you’re not a football fan, the Super Bowl halftime show is must-watch television. Though the NFL didn’t start headlining megastars until the mid 90’s, in recent years the halftime performances have produced some of the most memorable (and meme-able) moments of the game.

This year’s halftime show will star Eminem, Mary J. Blige, Snoop Dog, Kendrick Lamar and Dr. Dre, but where will it rank amongst the performances of years past?  Read on to find the top ten best Super Bowl Halftime Shows of all time, ranked. 

10) Aerosmith and NSync (2001)

In what can only be described as the strangest halftime show decision in history, Aerosmith and NSync were booked to headline the Super Bowl XXXV. Dubbed the “Kings of Rock and Pop,” the bands performed hits back-and-forth before joining together for the final song. 

NSync were on top form with “Bye Bye Bye” and “It’s Gonna Be Me,” while Aerosmith performed “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing” and “Jaded.” The show culminated in a rendition of “Walk This Way,” featuring both acts and special guests Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige and Nelly. It was madness, but that’s what made it so entertaining. 

9) Madonna (2012)

Before the 2012 halftime show, critics pondered if a 53-year old Madonna still had the stamina and stage presence to make an impact. Those critics ate their words. Madonna performed an all-singing, all-dancing halftime show which began with a gladiatorial theme and ended taking us to church. 

Highlights included LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem” and “Sexy and I Know It” mashup, Nicki Minaj and M.I.A.’s cameos and CeeLo Green’s otherworldly riffs during “Like a Prayer.”

8) Katy Perry (2015)

Rihanna and Coldplay were approached to headline the 2015 show, but it was Katy Perry who stepped up to the plate. At the peak of her pop career, Perry performed a medley of popular tunes like “Roar,” “California Girls” and “Firework.” 

In just over twelve minutes, Perry rode in on a giant mechanical lion, pranced through a crowd of dancing aliens, dueted with Lenny Kravitz, transported the crowd to the beach to meet the show-stealing ‘left shark,’ and dueted a few of Missy Elliott’s greatest hits before flying over the field. Even if her music wasn’t to your taste, the halftime show was simply unmissable.

7) Lady Gaga (2017)

Though she’s never been one to shy away from controversy, Lady Gaga’s 2017 halftime show was far tamer than most had anticipated. Nevertheless, Gaga cemented herself as one of the industry’s greats by using subtlety to make her point. The prerecorded mashup of “God Bless America/This Land is Your Land” set the political undertone which would permeate throughout the show. 

Viewers enjoyed renditions of “Poker Face,” “Bad Romance” and “Just Dance,” but it was the LGBTQ+ anthem “Born This Way” which Gaga was most praised for. The spoken verse of the song marked the first time that the LGBTQ+ community had been acknowledged during an NFL halftime show.

6) Bruno Mars (2014)

Though Mars performed at the halftime show months before his record-breaking single Uptown Funk was released, there was no shortage of recognisable tracks in his arsenal. Mars opened the show with a drum solo which led straight into the chart-topping single “Locked Out of Heaven.”

The halftime show landed a spot amongst the best because of Mars’ flawless vocals, slick dance moves and infectious energy. The eight-piece band who accompanied him, The Hooligans, were also praised by critics. The performance also featured a brief appearance by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, though they received mixed reviews.

5) U2 (2002)

Believe it or not, U2’s Super Bowl halftime show was something of a last minute affair. Janet Jackson was originally booked to perform but following the September 11th attacks of 2001, it was decided that another act was needed to better suit the tone required. During the three song set, the names of those who lost their lives on 9/11 were projected. 

The U2 halftime show stands out amongst the other greats for meeting the emotional weight of the moment. While other years had special guests, dancing and visual effects, U2 had anthemic songs and an unforgettable delivery. 

4) Shakira and Jennifer Lopez (2020)

In 12 minutes, Shakira and J.Lo played no less than 15 of their iconic tracks. Even then, we wanted more. The songstresses opted for a more segmented split than Aerosmith and NSync did and each played a selection of their own music before performing two final songs together to finish. 

Shakira began the show by running through hit after hit including “She Wolf,” “Hips Don’t Lie” and “Wherever, Whenever.” She then passed the baton to J.Lo who sang “On The Floor,” “Jenny From The Block” and “Waiting For Tonight.” Both women brought tiring dance routines, impressive vocals and world-class showmanship to the Super Bowl. Some halftime shows just aren’t long enough. 

3) Michael Jackson (1993)

After a lengthy negotiation period, Michael Jackson agreed to perform the halftime show in 1993. He went on to create one of the most legendary performances in Super Bowl history which would revolutionise how people thought of the halftime concert. 

It all began with Jackson catapulting to centre stage, where he stood completely still for almost two minutes while the crowd went wild. Jackson then launched into some of his greatest hits including “Billie Jean” and “Black and White.”  The performance remains one of the most watched events in US television history and encouraged the NFL to book top acts in order to attract more casual viewers.  

2) Beyonce (2013)

Queen B narrowly missed out on the top spot following her dazzling 2013 performance. Having been criticised for lip-syncing when she sang at Obama’s second inauguration, Beyonce confirmed prior to the Super Bowl that she would sing live, and sing she did. 

Demonstrating her vocal prowess, exceptional dancing and impressive stamina, Beyonce’s performance was flawless. She sang her greatest hits including “Single Ladies,” “Halo” and “Crazy in Love.” Of course, she was joined by fellow Destiny’s Child bandmates Michelle Williams and Kelly Rowland, but there was no doubt who was playing the starring role. 

1) Prince (2007)

If you ever need to prove that the pageantry of current halftime performances isn’t strictly necessary, look no further than 2007. Though Prince performed with a marching band, twin dancers and an elaborate light show, the setup is modest compared to the halftime shows of the last decade. 

During a dramatic downpour, Prince effortlessly performed songs from his repertoire including “Let’s Go Crazy” and “Baby I’m a Star” as well as covering tunes like the Foo Fighters’ “Best of You.” The highlight was a spine-tingling rendition of “Purple Rain.” In the eyes of many, Prince gave the greatest halftime show of all time. 

Which Super Bowl halftime show was your favorite, and how will this year’s cast shape up? Head over to our sportsbetting reviews to find the perfect site to place your Super Bowl football bets now, or discover the best sports betting and casino bonuses to bet!

Back To Top
Back To Top