The Super Bowl Halftime Shows: Ranked

Lady Gaga just performed a spectacular Halftime show for the 51st Super Bowl, and in honour of the event we have decided to rank all the artists to have perform at the esteemed event.

The modern day Super Bowl halftime show began in 1993, when Michael Jackson took the stage to perform. Previous to this, the slot was filled with marching bands, and choirs. Over the past 24 years the field has hosted a range of artists where some have found major success, and others have plummeted.

25. Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, Toni Braxton (2000)

Hocked full of Disney-promo, the magical setting opened on Aguilera and Iglesias centre stage in … a vest and jeans? To make matters worse, the pair were given an original song meaning the audience were forced to listen to something they did not know, and that was not that great. Collins, also wearing a casual Friday look sang ‘Two Worlds’ from the recently released Tarzan. Honestly, what a mess.

24. Blues Brothers (1997)

I am very confused. Are the Blues Brothers an actual band, or a film? Why was John Goodman there? The songs were recognisable, and the performance was fun but wtf? It was very karaoke. James Brown was very necessary to give the show some much needed sparkle. ZZ Top was a confusing choice however.

23. Black Eyed Peas (2011)

I was always a fan of BEP, they were fun and unbelievably popular, it’s no wonder they were chosen to headline the show as everything they touched turned number one. They looked cool enough with a slightly tacky futuristic theme. Once the music began one thing killed the entire show; they all screamed every lyric. They performed all their popular tracks but the unbelievable autotune and messy arrangement couldn’t even be salvaged by Usher. Poor Slash teleported onto the stage for a hot minute while Fergie decided to butcher ‘Sweet Child Of Mine’, and as she sauntily draped herself over him he gave her no interaction. So awkward!

22. Clint Black, Tanya Tucker (1994)

Oh God. A country special. While it is a popular genre, it is very hit and miss with a wider audience. The performers were good for sure, and the cowboy/girl dancers were cute, but it’s just too niche for the Super Bowl. Hopefully, now that its happened they’ll never need to do it again.

21. Tom Petty (2008)

I’m not a big fan of rock legends playing the halftime show, okay! I feel like the occasion is better suited to exciting pop performers. I really don’t know who Tom Petty is, though a couple of the songs rang a faint bell. He seems nice enough, and did a good job, but personally the sets were lacking and it was all just a little low energy.

20. Boys II Men, Smokey Robinson (1998)

Celebrating 40 years of Mowtown, was actually a great theme and really got us dancing with all the old classics. It wasn’t a show to write home about but the throwback elements were cute. At points such as Boys II Men performing their new single ‘A Song for Mama’, the life was sucked out of the set entirely, but overall a decent effort.

19. Bruce Springsteen (2009)

Not being an American or perhaps being under 30, I may be a little biased in saying I am not too aware of Springsteen’s catalog of music. Due to this fact, I was not much blown away by his set. I bet fans of the musician were living, but my highlight was the crotch slide into the camera.

18. Gloria Estefan, Stevie Wonder (1999)

This was a fun show; bright, bold, and colourful it started well and had us ready to party. Wonder was great, of course, and Estefan slayed everybody like the queen she is. While it was definitely a spectacle of a show, it felt a little stuffed with everything! Dancers, musicians, singers, colours, fireworks, balloons, after viewing you get the feeling of “woah, that was alot”.

17. The Rolling Stones (2006)

The Rolling Stones are legendary without question, their Super Bowl show is perhaps less so. While the guys performed with everything they had, and Mick was wiggling those hips and stomping around the stage like no other, it just fell short. They band performed just ‘Start Me Up,’ ‘Rough Justic,’ and ‘Satisfaction’ each of which were great to be sure, we just wished they had done cut down versions to fit more of their epic discography in the show.

16. Patti Labelle, Tony Bennett (1995)

What the heck happened here? In a very odd Indiana Jones-promotion show, there were ninjas, snakes, scripted scenes, and a whole host of f*ckery. Labelle was on fire in her sequined drag-like outfit giving it her all, then Bennett entered and brought the energy down to a minus two. Thankfully Labelle saved the show with another show-stopping performance.

15. Bruno Mars (2014)

The children singing at the beginning was a little tripe, but Mars’ drum solo really got things going for the event. Perhaps the best male pop artists currently, he is an exciting and polished performer. The costumes, dancing, vocals, and production are all stellar, but we can’t help think he would have done a far better job had he waiting to fill his backlog of songs up more. Red Hot Chilli Peppers were typical of themselves and added a crazy spark to the proceedings.

14. Shania Twain, No Doubt, Sting (2003)

In true Superbowl fashion, there is something for everyone in this set. Shania kicks things off with the camp favourite ‘Man! I Feel Like A Woman’, followed by a lesser know track though through it all she is so-so. Gwen takes over with ultimate bop ‘Just A Girl’ that really gets the crowd going, and rounds things out with Sting duetting on ‘Message In A Bottle’ which is killer.

13. Coldplay (2016)

Poor Coldplay, during their own Super Bowl show they were upstaged by their own guests Beyoncé, and Bruno Mars. Although what did you expect teaming with to of todays fiercest performers. They did very well belting out their biggest hits, although following the destruction wreaked by Mars and Knowles, they paled in comparison.

12. U2 (2002)

Kicking off with ‘Beautiful Day’, the band were good, not exciting or show-stopping but just typical U2. The crowd were cheering, and excited as they just did their thing. It was during their second number however, ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’, that things took a turn. Just five months after the 9/11 attacks, the band featured a tribute to the victims of the attacks by listing each of their names on a scrolling backdrop. Bono ended the show by opening his jacket to reveal a patriotic star and stripes print. How very ’02.

11. The Who (2010)

I’m a Brit so I can totally get behind The Who performing, opening with a mash up of ‘Pinball Wizard’ and ‘Baba O’Riley’ I was instantly sold. They knew what they were there to do and through high energy, laser shows, sparklers, and sweeping camera work, they succeeded.

10. Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake (2004)

Yup, that halftime show. While it is perhaps the most iconic event in halftime history, the actual show was a bit of a clusterf*ck. With Jessica Simpson, Kid Rock, Nelly, and P. Diddy all joining on stage it was a true event. They each performed their biggest hits in a frenzy of entertainment, but the fallout of the night have soured the proceedings for good.

9. NSYNC, Aerosmith, Britney Spears (2001)

Watching NSYNC perform ‘Bye, Bye, Bye’ on the same stage Areosmith are belting out ‘Don’t Wanna Miss A Thing’ is honestly a revelation within itself. At the time this must have been peak “family-friendly viewing’ with something for everyone. The back and forth now is an amazing throwback of guilty pleasures, while the star-studded ‘Walk This Way’ which included Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige and Nelly is just too much to mentally absorb.

8. Paul McCartney (2005)

A puported “safe choice” following the previous years ‘nipple-gate’ McCartney is a pro, and by now he knows what the people want. No messing around he goes straight into the jams, singing along with the fans in an interactive and sweet fashion. No time to spare with endless The Beatles’ hits he goes from one to another, barely taking a breather.

7. Michael Jackson (1993)

This was iconic Michael, before all the messiness. Upon taking the stage he stood for a full minute while fans screamed in hysteria for The King Of Pop. From the very first moments people were captivate as he pulled out every iconic song, and dance move in his arsenal. Following smashes like ‘Billie Jean’, and ‘Black Or White’ came an awkward speech and a reflective rendition of ‘Heal The World’ where he was surrounded by hundreds of children. Yikes. While the performance was amazing, we can’t help but feel Michael had more in him.

6. Lady Gaga (2016)

As the Super Bowl has been the stage to many controversies over the years, tongues were wagging as to what Gaga had planned up her sleeve but to everyones surprise it was just a phenomenal show! She had her gaga-isms with flying drones, gymnastics on wires, and diving off stage but there were no outrageous stunts; just a well-crafted, energetically performed show. A new classic.

5. Katy Perry (2015)

Talk about extra, Katy took the stage riding a giant mechanical lion belting out her current single ‘Roar’ before leading into ‘Dark Horse’ where the choreography began, and we were living already! A rockier version of ‘Kissed A Girl’ with Lenny Kravitz was killer, and the fun ‘Teenage Dream’ set birthed Left Shark, an iconic figure in his own right. While Katy did exceedingly well it was Missy Elliot who stole the show with a perfect throwback of bangers ‘Get Ur Freak On’ ‘Lose Control’ and ‘Work It’.

4. Madonna (2012)

Madonna’s still got it kids, know that! While people have alot of opinions on Madonna post-40, she is still an icon and phenomenal performer. She looked absolutely stunning, the production was on point, and her moves are sickening! With her hefty catalogue of bangers, there were some we missed but all the favourites ‘Vogue’, ‘Like A Prayer’ were there. M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj added to the show but we could have done without LMFAO and CeeLo Green.

3. Diana Ross (1996)

The most diva show of them all, Ross enters on a sparkling platform before diving into all the old favourites; she manages to get through TEN songs, and they are all hits! It is easy to see why she is a gay icon bringing the camp, and then shovelling even more camp on top of that. She will slay you, snatch your wig, and then fly away in a motherf*cking helicopter!

2. Beyoncé (2013)

This performance came during a time where Beyoncé was being branded as a living icon. Every song was a hit, every dance move was perfect, the production was spot on; everything about the show was spectacular. As if the event wasn’t epic enough, the reforming of Destiny’s Child on stage ended us completely. A performance so crazy she blew out the lights.

1. Prince (2007)

Prince has built his career on being an enigma, and that is what made his performance one for the ages. He tore through the hits of his own ‘1999’, ‘Let’s Go Crazy’, and suprised with covers of ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘Proud Mary’, but it was the rapturous closing of ‘Purple Rain’ in the Miami thunderstorm that had the football fanatics waving their arms and screaming with glee.

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