Best Super Bowl halftime shows of all time

Join us as we break down the whole reason why the whole world tunes into the NFL. We’re talking about the best Super Bowl halftime shows of all time…so be prepared for some greatness

Skiddle Staff

Last updated: 12th Feb 2024

Unless you live under a rock, then you’d know that one of the biggest sports was broadcast live last night to around about 200 million Americans and tone of nosey international viewers; including us.

The Super Bowl LVIII halftime show has become an event that brings elaborate performances and crazed American football fans together in harmony to witness that America can sometimes function as a country. Plus this year was extra special with the addition of Usher, a Beyonce announcement, American advertising, and a billion Swifties pulling themselves away from their (sometimes unbearable) fan accounts to watch Travis Kelcie do what he does best. 

And while we can’t deny that American football is a bit more confusing than our regular football, at least the NFL provide a 10/10  halftime show in the middle to break up the tension of sweaty men obsessed over a ball for 60 minutes. TOUCHDOWN!

From icons such as Beyonce, Rihanna, and Usher, to legends such as Michael Jackson, Prince and U2, let's dive into our opinion of the best Super Bowl halftime shows of all time. 

And because we can't get enough of live performances, we've created another list dedicated to the best live performances of all time. You're very welcome xx 

 

But lets crack on shall we?!

 

 

 

Usher (2024)

Because he is the most recent and most talked about man within the whole of social media it'd feel almost wrong not to mention the one man carrying R&B on his back right now; Usher. The Superbowl LVIII saw Usher, conquer its stages, bringing in the highest viewership of the NFL.

The genius behind some of our favourite songs including ‘Yeah x3’, ‘OMG’, and ‘My Boo’, all of which he performed on Sunday.  Usher traded his Vegas residency shows to do this once-in-a-lifetime performance where he breezed through each set like it was nothing; dancing, changing, all of which caused a bit of a sweat and a top removal; a true performer. Plus he had an array of special guests that had us double-taking throughout the whole show from a very intimate performance with Alicia Keys, to an even more intimate one gliding between Will.i.ams legs which resulted in a slight tumble.

And though we didn't get any 1on1 action from him and the Biebs, last night was Usher's world and we were more than happy be to in it. 

 


 

 

Beyonce (2013)

Image: Zimbio on Facebook

Widely lauded as the best to ever do it on the Super Bowl stage, Beyonce's first solo performance, after doing it alongside Coldplay and Bruno Mars in the past, was absolutely outstanding. No stranger to putting on a huge live performance, Beyonce ran the world during her halftime appearance at the 2013 Super Bowl.

Smashing through bangers like 'Crazy in Love,' 'Baby Boy' and 'Independent Women' and getting the whole crowd dancing, Beyonce then did the unthinkable, inviting Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams for a Destinys Child reunion that culminated in a magical rendition of their seminal track, 'Halo.' If we're honest, we're all lucky to be sharing a planet with Beyonce, never mind a stadium. 

 


 

Rihanna (2023) 

This obviously comes as no surprise as when Rihanna debuted her first ever live performance after the birth of her son, RZA, it had everybody and their nan trying to recreate the dance including the outfit on social media. Though Rihanna is a woman of many words (evident from her old tweets), she stayed in her lane and stuck to one outfit - a red jumpsuit that did the job of being loud enough to keep our attention as she whined and caressed her baby bump on that stage.

Though she had nothing to prove, she managed to keep up with fairly the complex choreography thanks to choreographer Parris Goebel. We was more than honoured to have seen THE badgirlriri on our screens, performing some of the hits that contributed to our childhoods. 

P.S. Rihanna we’re ready for that album whenever you are love x

 


 

 

Micheal Jackson (1993)

The battle for top spot was kinda insane on our end, and it came close to a few taking the crown, but it wouldn’t really be a list of the best halftime shows without the mention of the one and only king of pop; Micheal Jackson.

For those lucky enough to have been able to see it in person Michael put his all into that stage and the crowd sidetracked us with the fact that it was in fact a game and not a concert. With his memorable white sock loafer combo gliding around that stage he was there to give his all, and we wouldn’t have expected anything less. MJ really paved the way for how the Super Bowl halftime show would be viewed and the NFL hasn’t been the same since (thankfully).

 


 

 

Dr Dre & Friends (2022)

Image: Kristoffer Carl Taft on Facebook

The most recent halftime show was inarguably one of the very best. A sprawling celebration of American rap culture, Dr Dre brought an army of the very best in the game with him. Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, and Kendrick Lamar all joined the legendary rapper and producer, giving everyone in the building a West Coast rap history lesson.

From 'California Love' with Snoop, to 'Alright' with Kendrick (who really deserves his own halftime show now), to 'Lose Yourself' with Eminem (which sent the stadium rocking), each of the group got their time in the spotlight along Dre, and for an added extra bonus Anderson Paak was behind the drum kit the whole time. Legendary doesn't quite seem to cut it with this one, we're sure it'll go down in Super Bowl folklore and be mentioned for years to come.

 


 

Prince (2007)

Image: Sounds Familiar Music Quiz on Facebook

Where to start with this one? When Prince was announced as the halftime show, there was little doubt in people's minds that it would be anything other than iconic, but yet, as always, the purple maestro managed to blow everyone's expectations out of the water. Donning a signature purple guitar, he treated the crowd to 15 minutes of the purest blend of rock n roll cool and arrogance.

Whilst you may have expected him to fill the time out with his own tunes, Prince, in the middle of a Miami thunderstorm might we add, covered Foo Fighters 'Best Of You', mashed up Queens 'We Will Rock You' with his own 'Let's Go Crazy' and shredded his guitar with a rendition of 'All Along The Watchtower. It's iconic for a reason, and if you haven't watched it already, then we know what the next 15 minutes will entail for you.

 


 

U2 (2002)

Image: ATU2 on Facebook

With this performance, U2 quite simply created one of the most iconic moments in Rock and Roll ever. Set against the backdrop of a post 9-11 world, happening just a few months after the tragic event, U2 made this performance an emotional tribute to the victims, in their signature grandiose style that left many an attendee in need of a tissue. 

Treating the crowd to 'Beautiful Day,” the sorrowful “MLK” while scrolling through the names of the dead on a giant screen, a harrowing but important sight, and finally built up to “Where the Streets Have No Name” during which Bono ripped open his jacket to reveal the stitched American flag inside, creating the iconic image above. If you haven't seen this one go and watch it back, just remember the tissues.

 


  

Katy Perry (2015)

Image: Programming Insider on Facebook

Beyond ridiculous, but eminently incredible nonetheless, Katy Perry's halftime show in 2015 was a sight to behold. With drugged-up looking palm trees dancing in the wind, bright pastels and cartoon imagery everywhere, and of course - the best thing to ever come out of a Superbowl halftime show - Left Shark. 

Yet, whilst the iconic meme shark stole the show in the weeks and months following the performance, it was the surprise special guest that stole the hearts and minds of those inside. After a number of Katy's biggest hits, behind her, someone appeared from the mist, and it was none other than Missy Elliot, for her first high-profile live appearance in years. They both smashed through 'Get Ur Freak On' and left every punter inside grinning ear to ear.

 


 

The Rolling Stones (2006)

Image: Phixclothing on Facebook

It doesn't get much more iconic than The Rolling Stones does it? But, back in 2006, Mich and Co came to kick some ass and tear up some instruments, for a performance that, as mick joked, could've probably gone down just as well at Super Bowl I. Despite only doing three tunes, the three they picked couldn't be better. They trailblazed through 'Start Me Up,' 'Rough Justice' and the inevitable 'Satisfaction' to uproarious support and well and truly set their tongue styled stage alight.

Mick was up to his usual antics, popping and gyrating around the stage to adoring screams, and despite having a line censored on the telly, made every single person watching wish they were there. 

 


 

Lady Gaga (2017)

Image: BBC Sport on Facebook

Can you name a more emblematic entrance to the Halftime show than Gaga? We can't. But let's be honest with ourselves now, it's Gaga, it was never going to be anything but was it? However, par the entrance the show was surprisingly absent of her usual antics and being relatively normal, it was a stand-out show for the iconic pop star. 

One politically Gaga-esque change she did make however was at the end of the pledge of allegiance, where she put extra emphasis on the 'for all' and launched into her queer-positive anthem born this way. Whilst not as mental as many assumed it would be, Gaga tore up the surroundings in her usual fashion and made the stage her own. 

 


 

Madonna (2012)

Image: Martin Adriano on Facebook

There are few more widely known and loved people in the whole of music than Madonna, and once she stepped out onto the Super Bowl stage in those ancient-Roman gladiator studs, everyone knew they were about to see pop history. The whole set was a barrage of glitz and glam, and as she blazed through her set, everyone was quickly reminded just how many of the greatest pop songs ever made, are hers.

However, Madonna, in true Super Bowl fashion, was not solo. Onstage with her came the likes of Cee Lo Green, for harmonies on 'Like a Prayer' and alongside him were the likes of Nicki Minaj, LMFAO, and M.I.A. Talk about pop royalty. She even had some of the Cirque Du Soliel behind her dressed as gladiators and cheerleaders. There's only one word for this show, epic.

 


 

Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers (2014)

Image: NFL on Facebook

A pop and rock amalgamation of the decade, that no one knew they wanted, but once on stage, never wanted it to stop. Bruno Mars at the time of the announcement was the only one meant to be there, and many feared that despite his fame, he didn't have the back catalogue to do the performance justice. Yet, once he came on stage and did that iconic drum solo, no one was asking questions. Then when he went further to bring on the Chili Peppers, who in usual fashion had chests laid bare, everyone in the stadium gave it away to those on stage.

An epic mish-mash of pop, RnB, Funk, Rock, and Motown, this was one of the biggest surprises ever at the Super Bowl and will live long in the events folklore.

 


 

Aerosmith, Britney Spears, ‘NSync, Nelly & Mary J. Blige (2001)

Image: NBC News on Facebook

Finally, we bring you the weirdest, most wonderful collection of artists to come together for the SuperBowl (probably the weirdest, most wonderful of all time), when Aerosmith, Britney Spears, ‘NSync, Nelly & Mary J. Blige, all joined forces in 2001, for a show that left an equal amount of people in ecstasy and confusion. 

“Walk This Way” was where it all came together in a spectacle of sleazy pop awesomeness. Aerosmith shredded up their iconic track, Britney, in silver football pants, starred as the Missy Who Was Ready to Play. Mary J. Blige sang her heart out to the chorus. Nelly rapped over Joe Perry’s signature guitar solo. It was crazy, chaotic, and some of the most fun that's ever been had at a SuperBowl halftime show. You've got to see it to belive it. 

 



 

Check out our What's On Guide to discover even more rowdy raves and sweaty gigs taking place over the coming weeks and months. For festivals, lifestyle events and more, head on over to our Things To Do page or be inspired by the event selections on our Inspire Me page.

 

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Header image credit: Usher. PHOTO: ETHAN MILLER/GETTY

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