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The news site of Robert Morris University

RMU Sentry Media

The news site of Robert Morris University

RMU Sentry Media

Ranking the Top 10 Superbowl Halftime Shows

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With the Super Bowl wrapping up last week with the Kansas City Chiefs doing the double over the 49ers, our fans enter a state of nothingness until at least the NFL Draft in a couple of months. Of course, a part of any Super Bowl is the biggest show on earth, the halftime show. This year, Usher was given the privileged position to perform, and while to me, the show was okay, to others, it is given a mixed reception. He brought out stars like Alicia Keys, H.E.R., and Lil Jon, and the theatrics were kept pretty small. But his performance did give me the idea to rank my favorite halftime shows. And while Usher did not make the cut, some of your favorites may have.

10. Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, and Mary J. Blige

Starting this list is last year’s halftime show. To say this performance was packed would be an understatement. Packing in some of the best rappers and singers in rap from the early 21st century and fitting them into less than 15-minute shows was tough, to say the least, but overall, it worked out well. Hits like Kendrick’s “Alright” and Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” stood out to me, and 50 Cent’s surprise appearance was definitely a boost, but it also felt rushed, trying to pack too much into too short a frame.

9. Coldplay, Beyoncé, Bruno Mars

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Super Bowl 50 was the first Super Bowl I watched all the way through; thus, this was the first halftime show I ever saw. For Coldplay, this was a huge appearance. They played a couple of their hits, most notably their rendition of Viva La Vida with such a crowd was amazing. Bruno Mars, who had just released “Uptown Funk”, performed the hit and was then joined by Beyoncé, singing “Crazy In Love”, and the trio closed out the show together. This performance has sentimental value somewhat, but I think Uptown Funk being at its height and Coldplay’s rendition of a classic with such a large crowd puts it on my list.


Madonna produced a very underrated show when she performed at Super Bowl XLVI in 2012. After starting off strong with “Vogue”, I was quite disappointed with how Madonna carried on. It lacked creativity to me and just was a normal concert. Then she turned it around completely. After a surprise appearance from LMFAO for their nostalgic hits, “Party Rock Anthem” and “I’m Sexy and I Know It”, Madonna was joined on stage by a bunch of cheerleaders and, more importantly, Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. for their song “Give Me All Your Lovin'”. Following the pop hit, the 90’s star was paired with CeeLo Green and a church choir for her classic “Like A Prayer”. A concert full of flair and pop classics make this list for me but is not enough to make it anything special.

7. Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, P. Diddy, Kid Rock, Nelly Now

I think most find this Super Bowl show more infamous than famous, but it is still a great show. Janet Jackson probably could have done this show herself because like her brother had done years before, her presence and choreography alone made this halftime iconic. Justin Timberlake’s performance of “Rock Your Body” was good until the, you know, malfunction. Nelly’s short, yet iconic appearance in his red car playing “Hot in Here”, wins bonus points with me. Overall, it was a really good show, no matter what else people remember it for.

6. Lady Gaga

It is one of the few solo shows that make this list but is still very well deserved, even without the surprise feature factor. Gaga, an all-time great performer, deserved her shot on the biggest stage in the world, and she did not disappoint. Famously, Gaga, opened up her show on top of NRG Stadium in Atlanta, before being repelled down. Gaga, who has no shortage of pop hits, sang “A Million Reasons”, “Born This Way”, “Bad Romance”, and “Just Dance”, as well a couple more. All were done fantastically, and the execution of her piano playing, pyrotechnics, props, and accessories, was perfect. An overall good show but lacking the extra “pizzazz” to put it higher.

5. Shakira and Jennifer Lopez

Being two of the biggest superstars in the early 2000s, it should be no surprise that when they come together, they put on a stellar show. Shakira has more classics than one can count, and Jennifer Lopez is a music industry veteran who knows how to put a show together. Songs like ‘Hips Don’t Lie” and “Waka Waka” were standouts, but the creativity in Lopez’s set was excellent. An appearance from Bad Bunny and J Lo’s daughter added something different and new to halftime shows in general. A combination of nostalgia and excitement carries the show and has changed what the halftime show represents now.

4. U2

Taking place only a couple of months after 9/11, U2’s tribute to the victims and a country still reeling from the worst tragedy on American soil turned out not only to be very fitting and well done but a beautiful spectacle. As Bono walked through the crowd to get to the heart-shaped stage where his bandmates stood, he sang one of the biggest songs the band has released, “Beautiful Day”, a heartfelt reminder of hope and joy in the dark times. Perhaps the most memorable part of the show, though, was the large banner that rose into the sky, projecting the names of every life lost in the attacks. As Bono and the band poured their souls into their music, Bono screaming the lyrics through the deafening cheers, the band sang “Where the Streets Have No Name” for what Bono later said was “anyone who was listening.” When Bono swings open his jacket and the cameras zoom into the American flag imprinted inside, the crowd erupts into a loud and very emotional cheer, something that sums up the show as a whole.

3. Katy Perry

If anyone knew how to use the stage, power, budget, and abilities that come with the Super Bowl halftime show, Katy Perry sure did. The masterclass in performing with props, backup dancers, guests, and sets that were the Super Bowl XLIX was as fantastic to watch from home as it probably was to be there. Starting her set off riding a huge, puppet tiger performing “Roar” and then going into “Dark Horse” seamlessly is perfect before bringing in Lenny Kravitz to cover Pink’s “I Kissed A Girl”. “Teenage Dream” is one of Perry’s best, and iconically the shark she sang it with became national news. “California Girls” was included, as it should’ve been. Missy Elliot also showed up unexpectedly and performed three songs. Overall, a fantastic performance, and some might argue the reason this isn’t one, is because the level of fame of Perry’s just doesn’t match these next few.

2.. Michael Jackson

In my opinion, the greatest performer ever, Michael Jackson got the chance to perform at Super Bowl XXVII. Used for his pure fame and nature of success, the Super Bowl wanted to boost viewers and it’s safe to say thanks to Jackson, the halftime show is what it is today because of him. The show started with two doubles of the star appearing on top of the jumbotrons on opposite sides of the field, before the king of pop shot out of the center of the stage where he stood, fans rushing around him, for almost two minutes. Jackson went into his hits like “Jam”, “Billie Jean”, and “Black and White”, while the crowd’s roar almost overpowered the singer’s voice. Jackson finally performed Heal the World with a choir to close the fantastic show. Simply the show was amazing, no surprises are needed when you’re the king of pop.

1. Prince

Made more famous after his death, Prince’s performance at Super Bowl XLI is regarded as the best Super Bowl halftime show ever. I know I started this article off by discussing how the more over the top the better. But in the end, Prince and Michael Jackson’s simplicity combined with their iconic status, puts them in the top 2 spots. Price’s show went a little differently, a way if any other artist went, would’ve kept them off this list. Prince opened with a cover of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” before his own “Let’s Go Crazy”. He then covered “All Along the Watchtower” by Jimmy Hendrix, before also delivering an ecstatic rendition of his hit, “Purple Rain”. Prince’s classics and unique stage etiquette along with his top-tier guitar skills made his performance a must-watch, which was hard done by Prince’s withholding of footage of the show until after he died in 2016. Today, the performance remains almost a unanimous number 1 atop all, and any halftime show lists, and I don’t see it losing its spot this weekend.

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