Twelve of the Top Super Bowl Halftime Shows That Didn’t Suck

Posted on Friday January 29th in

On Sunday, February 7, Coldplay, Beyoncé, and Bruno Mars will take the stage to perform at the 50th Super Bowl. Being music lovers, we have high hopes that the music will rock us as we snack on a surplus of wings, beer, and Grandma’s famous chili. From wardrobe malfunctions to frightful renditions of “It’s a Small World (After All),” there have been quite a few shows gone wrong. Of course, there have also been quite a few shows gone right. Check them out below.

1. The Rockettes wow the crowd with Chubby Checker and 88 grand pianos on January 31, 1988
This grand performance featured more than 1,200 individual performers on the field while 88 grand pianos were played in unison — and arranged in a stunning formation. The Rockettes tap-danced while Chubby Checker sang “Let’s Twist Again.” It was an absolutely eye- and ear-catching performance.

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2. Michael Jackson becomes the first pop icon to take the stage on January 31, 1993
With seven singles on Thriller topping charts at No. 1, and following the recent releases of Bad and Dangerous, Michael Jackson was ready to conquer absolutely anything, and he did. Michael secured his spot as the King of Pop, playing fan favorites like “Billie Jean” and “Black or White.”

3. Diana Ross lays down her soul on January 28, 1996
The onetime Supreme, Diana Ross graciously gave the crowd 15 minutes of classics, including “Stop in the Name of Love” and covers like Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” before being whisked off the field to a booming “Take Me Higher.”

4. The Blues Brothers, James Brown, and ZZ Top blow minds on January 27, 1997
At this iconic show, affectionately named the “Blues Brothers Bash,” Jim Belushi, John Goodman and Dan Aykroyd began the set singing favorites “Everybody Needs Somebody to Love” and “Soul Man.” After Godfather of Soul James Brown finished laying down the funk with “I Got You (I Feel Good)” and “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine,” ZZ Top came in red hot, driving onto the field in a red sports car to rock hits “Tush” and “Legs.”

5. Stevie Wonder and Gloria Estefan bring more sunshine to Miami on January 31, 1999
A soulful halftime duo, billed as Gloria Estefan and Stevie Wonder, Stevie gave Miami such gems as “You Are the Sunshine of my Life” while Gloria showed her spirit in “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You” before they joined in harmony to sing “You’ll Be Mine (Party Time)” > “Another Star” > “My Cherie Amour.”

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6. U2 warm the hearts of fans with rocking ballads on February 3, 2002
U2 took the stage at the Superdome in New Orleans to pay a beautiful tribute to the lives lost in the September 11 attacks. When “Where the Streets Have No Name” was played, the names of all the victims appeared onscreen, and Bono opened his jacket to reveal a lining of stars and stripes.

7. Paul McCartney puts on his Wings on February 6, 2005
At a memorable Super Bowl XXXIX, Paul McCartney performed a Wings hit, “Live and Let Die,” and classic Beatles tunes like “Get Back.” It’s rumored that the NFL chose him to perform as a safe act in contrast to the prior year’s wardrobe malfunction.

8. The Rolling Stones kick-start Super Bowl XL on February 5, 2006
The Rolling Stones’ three-song set rocked with riveting versions of “Start Me Up,” “Rough Justice,” and “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.” Due to Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake’s wardrobe malfunction two years earlier, the NFL opted for a five-second tape delay to allow censors to mute any sexually explicit movements or lyrics.

9. Prince rains rock during halftime on February 4, 2007 
This eclectic show was somewhat ironic due to the massive downpour. Prince performed on a stage shaped as the exact guitar he was playing and ripped through classics like “1999” and “Purple Rain.” Plus, he even covered “Proud Mary” and “All Along the Watchtower,” among others.


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10. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers change the game on February 3, 2008
This was an instant touchdown. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers opened with “American Girl” and continued with hits like “Won’t Back Down” and “Free Fallin’,” which allowed guitarist Mike Campbell to shine. The performance was so spectacular it was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2009 for Outstanding Live Sports Special.

11. Bruce Springsteen runs the show with the E Street Band on February 9, 2009 
At Super Bowl XLIII, the Boss implored viewers to “put the chicken fingers down” before rocking the crowd for the next 12 minutes. They lit up center stage with songs like “Born to Run” and “Glory Days.” But the set’s biggest throw-down came when Bruce slammed a TV camera with his crotch during “10th Avenue Freeze Out.”

12. The Who roar a rock storm on February 7, 2010
The Who took the main stage to bust out an amazing show filled with hits like “Who Are You” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” We don’t need to tell you why this show was so highly anticipated, but it sure lived up to standards.

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