Coldplay, Beyonce and Bruno Mars perform during the Pepsi Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Ranked: The Best Super Bowl Halftime Shows

By: Marty Rosenbaum

January 31, 2019

The Super Bowl halftime show is an event in and of itself. Sometimes there will be more talk about the performance than the game. An artist's legacy can be defined by how they handle the big stage. With social media, there's even more chatter around the halftime show than ever before.

Related: GRAMMY Awards: 5 Unforgettable Moments

While each performance is memorable in its own way, here are 10 that stand out as the best of all time.

10. The Blues Brothers, ZZ Top, James Brown - 1997

I can understand the theme the NFL was going for with the Super Bowl being in New Orleans, but where were the New Orleans artists? Either way, this set had fantastic performers and provided a nice energy to the Big Game.

Watch the performance here.

 

9. Michael Jackson - 1993

This goes down as one of the more important Super Bowl performances as it marked a transition for the NFL. It marked the first time the NFL didn't have a marching band as the halftime show, instead opting to increase viewership by having a top musical act perform.

 

8. Lady Gaga - 2017

A true 21st Century performance that was highlighted by Gaga's famous jump off the top of NRG Stadium.

 

7. Beyonce - 2013

Beyonce is one of the top live performers in the world and Super Bowl XLVII was the perfect stage for her. Plus, the performance featured a reunion of Destiny's Child marking her only guests during the set.

 

6. Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - 2008

Tom Petty's genius was already appreciated by many, but it was this Super Bowl performance that served to cement his status as one of America's best musicians. 

 

5. U2 - 2002

When asked to answer the call, U2 delivered. The theme of Super Bowl XXXVI was a tribute to those killed in the September 11th attacks, and U2's performance of "Beautiful Day," "MLK," and "Where The Streets Have No Name" was the perfect soundtrack for the time.

 

4. Bruno Mars & Red Hot Chili Peppers - 2014

Bruno Mars was already a star at this point and any reservations about his abilities as a live performer were erased in this halftime show. Although this wasn't the Chili Peppers finest performance (due to the NFL not allowing the band to play their instruments live), Bruno Mars was the star of the show.

 

3. Diana Ross - 1996

An outfit change between every song, a gold cape that envelopes the entire stage, a helicopter landing in the middle of the field, and then Ross departing on the edge of the helicopter waving goodbye to the crowd? If that's not a top Super Bowl performance, I don't know what is.

 

2. Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band - 2009

Springsteen was ready to rock from the get go. “I want you to step away from the guacamole dip! I want you to put the chicken wings down and turn your television all the way up,” he told the audience before running through a fantastic medley of his greatest hits.

 

1. Prince - 2007

The undisputed greatest halftime show in Super Bowl history.