Football is a big deal, but deep down we all know that what makes the Super Bowl the Super Bowl is the halftime show. This event is the second most-watched sporting program in the world, an incredible feat considering that no one even watches football outside of the US.
There’s so much build-up surrounding these mini-concerts that 70 percent of the time there’s some aspect that’s disappointing about the show, whether it’s the selected artist or the performance in itself. Despite all of this, Super Bowl halftime shows have a lot of staying power, legitimizing artists and cementing their status as legends.
Check out 5 of the most memorable Super Bowl half-time shows of all time:
The Rolling Stones
CBS wasn’t a fan of The Rolling Stones’ Super Bowl performance where Mick Jagger didn’t bother to censor their lyrics and danced in his Mick Jagger way. Compared to other Super Bowl performances, The Rolling Stones’ show was kind of tame in comparison, but it definitely became an important part of Super Bowl history.
Despite a string of poor songs, Katy Perry has traditionally been a fun and positive performer, one who developed a keen awareness of her talents and target audience. The dancing shark is one of the best memes of all time but there’s so much more in this Super Bowl half-time show, which also gave us Lenny Kravitz and the much awaited return of Missy Elliott.
Opening up with a touching rendition of “This Land Is Your Land” and a swarm of drones that lit up as the colors of the American flag, Lady Gaga kicked off her Super Bowl half-time show with a bang and didn’t slow down for the rest of her 13-minute set. Two years later, Gaga is now an Oscar nominated actress with a Las Vegas residency. For her the Super Bowl was just a step in a much grander staircase.
There’s no performer like Beyoncé, who record after record continues to prove that she is the ultimate pop star. Her combination of powerful vocals, amazing dance moves, charisma, and empowerment have given her carte blanche to do whatever the hell she wants. Her Super Bowl performance is not even the best among her live shows; that’s just her default.
Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson
Ask around about the Super Bowl and eventually someone will say something about 2004’s Nipplegate. Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake’s performance was running smoothly, featuring the singers’ most famous songs until the last second when Timberlake vigorously pulled on Jackson’s shirt and left her topless. This wardrobe malfunction was widely discussed and cost CBS hundreds of dollars. It banned Janet Jackson from the 2004 Grammy Awards and made her the most Googled person of that year and the next. You can’t even see the nipple guys, come on.