The National Football League’s (NFL) Super Bowl is among the most-watched sporting events worldwide. Tens of millions of football fans tune into the grand finale of the NFL season to witness the crowning of the NFL champions. Nicknamed “The Greatest Show on Turf,” the Super Bowl is loved and adored by people across the globe, even if they do not follow NFL diligently throughout the regular season. The halftime show is one of the Super Bowl’s draws, and there have been some incredible shows over the years.
Halftime at the Super Bowl is big business for companies. Television companies sell 30-second advertisements for up to $7 million because of the number of eyes that see the advertiser’s product. Millions of sports bettors flock to place wagers at MyTopSportsbooks, while musicians and musical artists invited to perform at the world-famous halftime show know that an outstanding performance can relaunch their career and massively increase sales of past, present, and future singles and albums.
January 15, 1967, was the first-ever Super Bowl halftime show. The University of Arizona Symphonic Marching Band, Grambling State University Marching Band, Al Hirt, and Anaheim High School Ana-Hi-Steppers Drill Team and Flag Girls took to the field of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in California. That was the inaugural Super Bowl, and the Green Bay Packers won it after defeating the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10. The day marked the start of a new era for the NFL, and the Super Bowl halftime show was born.
Since that day, some of music’s biggest names have wowed the crowds inside the stadium and on television screens the world over. Some performances have left plenty to be desired. Others are thought of in higher regard. However, the following five Super Bowl halftime shows are regarded as some of the best entertainment seen during the interval of American Football’s biggest occasion.
1. Prince (2007)
The Dolphin Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, home of the Miami Dolphins, was where the best-ever Super Bowl halftime show occurred in February 2007. With the Indianapolis Colts leading the Chicago Bears 16-14 in heavy rain at halftime, pop music superstar Prince took to the field amid inclement weather. As the crowds attempted to find shelter, little did they know they were about to witness true greatness.
A turquoise suit and durag-sporting Prince opened with a rendition of the Queen class “We Will Rock You” before he rose into the air on an elevator and performed his hit “Let’s Go Crazy.” Prince continued wowing the crowd with “Baby I’m a Star,” “1999,” and the Creedence Clearwater Revival song “Proud Mary.”
A melody of “All Along the Watchtower” by Bob Dylan and the Foo Fighters’ “Best of You” was rounded off by an incredible performance of “Purple Rain,” the latter being perfect as almost storm-like conditions rained down in Miami. Prince was incredible.
2. Beyonce (2013)
Pop princess Beyonce is well known for putting on superb live performances, and her appearance at the 2013 Super Bowl was no different. Beyonce’s show was so spectacular that it resulted in a blackout that lasted almost 34 minutes, with engineers blaming the sheer number of lights and effects Beyonce and her crew utilized during their halftime show. The show was so well-received that it became the most-tweeted-about moment in Twitter history, with 268,000 tweets per minute.
Beyonce began with “Run the World (Girls),” “Love on Top,” “Crazy in Love,” and “Baby Boy” before viewers were treated to some severe nostalgia when Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, formerly of Detiny’s Child, joined their old bandmate on stage. Together they performed “Bootylicious,” “Independent Women Part I,” and “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” before Beyonce capped things off with a rendition of “Halo”.
3. Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, 50 Cent, and Kendrick Lamar (2022)
The 202 Super Bowl between the Los Angeles Rams and the Cincinnati Bengals took place at the SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California—what better way to celebrate than by inviting some West Coast icons to perform? Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, queen of Hip-Hop Soul Mary J. Blige, 50 Cent, and Kendrick Lamar treated those watching and listening to a West Coast rap history lesson.
The 11-track set list included Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s “California Love,” “Family Affair” and “No More Drama” from Blige, “Forget About Dre” and “Lose Yourself” from Eminem, and even an instrumental tribute to Tupac Shakur. You didn’t need to like the genre to enjoy this jaw-dropping halftime show.
4. Shakira and Jennifer Lopez (2020)
The 2020 Super Bowl took place at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, a part of the United States with a large Latino population. So who better perform during the halftime interval than Latina superstars Shakira and Jennifer Lopez? The Latino stars danced at a furious pace, wearing revealing clothing that left little to the imagination. The duo’s outfits were one of the reasons the Federal Communications Commission received more than 1,300 complaints about the performance!
The performance broke the viewership record for a Super Bowl halftime show, with 103 million viewers dazzled by Shakira and Lopez. The set list included the likes of “She Wolf,” “Whenever, Wherever,” and “Hips Don’t Lie” from Shakira, while Lopez treated everyone to hits, including “Jenny from the Block” and “Waiting for Tonight.”
5. Rhianna (2023)
Although many viewers were unhappy at the poor-quality lip-synching by Rhianna during the 2023 Super Bowl, the fact she took to the stage for the first time in six years in Arizona and did so while revealing she was pregnant with her second child blew away the crowds.
Rhianna’s dance routines were understandably not as energetic as usual due to her pregnancy. Still, the billionaire entrepreneur treated the 67,827 football fans inside the State Farm Stadium and the tens of millions of viewers at home to a 13-track set list that included her most famous hits. Rhianna started with “What’s My Name?” and went on to sing iconic tunes “Only Girl (In the World),” “Rude Boy,” “Work,” and “Umbrella” before finishing with “Diamonds.”
One critic described the show as a Rhianna concert that a football game interrupted!