My 5 Favorite Super Bowl Halftime Shows

Today, Madonna will hit the stage at halftime during Super Bowl XLVI, joining a long list of famous musicians who have tackled the monstrous feat. As Madonna has said in multiple interviews, she nervous for the performance as this game is one of America’s biggest moments. You don’t really have an opportunity to mess it up. With so many eyes on her tonight, I thought it would be fitting to take a retrospective look at some of my favorite Super Bowl Halftime shows.

The halftime shows vary from year to year and the act sometimes depends on the location from what I can gather. The show has popped out with artists like *NSYNC, Janet Jackson and Black Eyed Peas and rocked out No Doubt, Aerosmith and of course, U2.

However, sometimes the halftime show strikes out in a major way. For a while, Disney seemed to sneak its way into every show and in turn, made for some creepy performances. A perfect example would be when the New Kids On The Block performed in a It’s A Small World with a shout out to the troops who were deployed in Operation Desert Storm. The result was a complete mess. Hopefully, Madonna has crafted something that will have us talking for all the right reasons. Check out five of my favorite halftime shows below.

5. Janet Jackson & Justin Timberlake: Super Bowl XXXVIII (2004)

Janet Jackson was on the rise once again with her triumphant return to pop music. Kicking off her performance with the single All For You got the crowd signing along but it was her reboot of Rhythm Nation that got the crowd on their feet. But, trust a star like Justin Timberlake to steal the spotlight. He’s entrance onto the stage sent the crowd into an uproar of applause. And then, the infamous “nipple slip”. Was it planned? Was it a wardrobe malfunction? Regardless, it made Janet’s career suffer and in turn, gave Justin the boost into his sophomore solo album. Check out their performance below.

4. Shania Twain, No Doubt & Sting: Super Bowl XXXVII (2003)

The year before Janet took the stage, indie rockers No Doubt rocked the house in San Diego alongside Shania Twain and Sting. While their performance of I’m Just A Girl rocked the house, it was their collaboration of Message In A Bottle with Sting that grabbed all of my attention. While Sting’s voice speaks for itself, Gwen Stefani’s stage presence made the performance memorable for me in turn, making it into my top 5 of all time.

3. U2: Super Bowl XXXVI (2002)

I keep going back one year at a time? Is there a trend here? In 2002, U2 hit the stage for the halftime show at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans. Like Janet Jackson, U2 was back in the spotlight with their newest album finding itself landing in Top 40 radio across the country. Kick off the performance with their smash hit Beautiful Day, Bono walked through the crowd of ecstatic fans before hitting the heart-shaped stage to rock out the rest of the number. There is no doubt that U2 has the art of stadium rock performance down to a science. Their performance was absolutely amazing and they had the entire Superdown eating out of the palm of their hand. Check it out below.

2. Aerosmith, *NSYNC, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige & Nelly: Super Bowl XXXV (2001)

Florida was the host state for Super Bowl 35 and its halftime performance was ready to bring the house down bringing in some of the biggest names in pop music at the time together to share the stage. What I like most about this performance is that it truly speaks to how pop music was in the forefront at the time. Kicking off the performance with a video skit featuring Ben Stiller and Adam Sandler was a little bit annoying but once *NSYNC began running across the field towards the stage, it was game-on. Alternating between them and Aerosmith, the stage was on fire bringing in Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige and Nelly to collaborate on Rock This Way. An unbelievable performance and definitely one of the most memorable in Super Bowl halftime show history.

1. Michael Jackson: Super Bowl XXVII (1993)

I can’t finish my favorite halftime list without crowning the winner as the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson. In 1993, Super Bowl 27 was played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, CA and the crowd went bananas when Michael took the stage. He kicked off his performance with Jam and seamlessly transitioned into Billy Jean which had the crowd cheering so loud you can barely hear the music sometimes. There is no doubt that Michael is truly an icon and shines through in this performance with the presence he has on stage and the way the crowd is drawn to his every move and breath. I have yet to see a halftime show where this same respect is observed by everyone in attendance. Check out the performance below.

Today, will Madonna join the list of favorites or will she join the only average performers. What is your favorite Super Bowl halftime performance? Sound off below.

  • Oliver

    Really? Janet Jackson is among your favorites? Her show was completely embarrassing, not only because she sang full playback whereas Justin sang live OVER her vocals … but also because of the Nipplegate scandal. I think it was a publicity stunt and not a good one I might add! And now she is torturing poor animals by bringing out her own fur jacket line by Blackglama… what a pathetic creature she is.

  • CT

    MTV used to produce the halftime shows when the Super Bowl would be on CBS because of the Viacom connection, so both 2001 and 2004 shows were produced by MTV. And then 2004 was the last time MTV was allowed to produce a halftime show, and the halftime show went the geriatric route for the next few years, they finally got away from that last year with the BEP, even though that show was a mess

  • hol

    My number one of all time was the Nsync/Britney/Aerosmith half time show and I loved the No Doubt one I think Madonnas yesterday is top 3 for me! I loved it.