The Super Bowl halftime show stage has seen some of the most memorable performances in music history — and a few we’d like to erase from our brains.
This year, COVID-19 restrictions have presented unique challenges, but The Weeknd is ready to deliver what he hopes will be a “cinematic experience.” The Canadian crooner told Billboard that he spent $7 million of his own money in order to make the Super Bowl 55 halftime show “be what he envisioned.” Hey, if nothing else, you have to respect the fact that he’s going all-out.
Where will The Weeknd’s spectacle land on the spectrum? That remains to be seen. For now, let’s take a look back at the best and worst halftime shows in Super Bowl history.
Best Super Bowl halftime shows
Michael Jackson (1993)
Jackson appeared on stage and stood there for nearly two minutes, driving fans into a frenzy. The King of Pop, indeed.
His set list included “Billie Jean,” “Black or White,” “We Are the World,” and “Heal the World,” so there may have been a slight sense of disappointment considering he didn’t feature more of his uptempo hits. Still, Jackson deserves credit for changing how we perceived what a halftime show could truly be.
Leave it to Prince to make it feel like a torrential downpour was part of the plan. He sang and cycled through guitars as only he could and had the crowd hitting the high notes of “Purple Rain” before he allowed that silly football game to follow his concert.
Other performers deserve to be in the conversation for the best Super Bowl halftime show ever, but man, good luck arguing against Prince.
Visuals galore! Sparks are flying out of that guitar! Wait, Destiny’s Child has arrived! She’s doing the “Single Ladies” dance!
Energy beams flowed right out of television sets and into living rooms that night. We were one with the Beyonce.
Jennifer Lopez and Shakira (2020)
Imagine complaining about this show because a couple of attractive women dared to shake their hips. What a bunch of dorks.
J-Lo and Shakira celebrated Latin culture and electrified the audience. Just a dynamic duo dominating like LeBron James and Kyrie Irving in the 2016 NBA Finals.
Worst Super Bowl halftime shows
New Kids on the Block (1991)
Don’t blame New Kids on the Block for this. The boy band was stuck doing the most Disney-fied production possible. A family-friendly show? Absolutely. Entertaining? Not at all.
Look, if you don’t let NKOTB belt out “You Got It (The Right Stuff),” then you made a serious mistake.
Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias and Toni Braxton (2000)
Again, too much of a Mickey Mouse flavor. Allow talented singers to perform their own songs. This isn’t that hard.
Unless you were a big fan of Kangol hats and random narration, this was a swing and a miss.
The Black Eyed Peas (2011)
Weird futuristic suits, bad autotune, inconsistent audio levels. There’s Usher half-heartedly dancing around. Apparently Slash is doing something.
Let’s get it started in here? No. Stop it. Right now.
Maroon 5 (2019)
Cameos from Big Boi, Travis Scott and SpongeBob SquarePants — yep, that happened — couldn’t save this Super Bowl stinker. You forgot what took place immediately after Adam Levine and Co. left the stage.
Should have just played “Sweet Victory” and called it a day, guys.
Super Bowl halftime shows list all time
|I||1967||Universities of Arizona and Michigan Grambling University Bands|
|II||1968||“Old Man Winter Takes a Vacation in Miami” featuring seven local Miami-area high school bands|
|III||1969||“America Thanks” with Florida A&M University|
|V||1971||Florida A&M Band|
|VI||1972||“Salute to Louis Armstrong” with Ella Ftizgerald, Carol Channing, Al Hirt and U.S. Marine Coprs Drill Team|
|VII||1973||“Happiness Is…” with University of Michigan Band and Woody Herman|
|VIII||1974||“A Musical America” with University of Texas Band|
|IX||1975||“Tribute to Duke Eillington” with Mercer Ellington and Grambling University Bands|
|X||1976||“200 Years and Just a Baby” Tribute to America’s Bicentennial|
|XI||1977||“It’s a Small World” including crowd particiption for first time with spectators waving colored placard on cue|
|XII||1978||“From Paris to the Paris of America” with Tyler Apache Belles, Pete Fountain and Al Hirt|
|XIII||1979||“Super Bowl XIII Carnival” Salute to the Caribbean with Ken Hamilton and various Caribbean bands|
|XIV||1980||“A Salute to the Big Band Era” with Up with People|
|XV||1981||“A Mardi Gras Festival”|
|XVI||1982||“A Salute to the 60’s and Motown”|
|XVII||1983||“KaleidoSUPERscope” (a kaleidoscope of color and sound)|
|XVIII||1984||“Super Bowl XVIII’s Salute to the Superstars of the Silver Screen”|
|XIX||1985||“A World of Children’s Dreams”|
|XX||1986||“Beat of the Future”|
|XXI||1987||“Salute to Hollywood’s 100th Anniversary”|
|XXII||1988||“Something Grand” featuring 88 grand pianos, the Rockettes and Chubby Checker|
|XXIII||1989||“Be Bop Bamboozled” featuring 3-D effects|
|XXIV||1990||“Salute to New Orleans” and 40th Anniversary of Peanuts’ characters, featuring trumpeter Pete Fountain, Doug Kershaw and Irma Thomas|
|XXV||1991||“A Small World Salute to 25 Years of the Super Bowl” featuring New Kids on the Block|
|XXVI||1992||“Winter Magic” including a salute to the winter season and the winter Olympics featuring Gloria Estefan, Brian Boitano and Dorothy Hamill|
|XXVII||1993||“Heal the World” featuring Michael Jackson|
|XXVIII||1994||“Rockin Country Sunday” featuring Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt, Wynonna and Naomi Judd|
|XXIX||1995||“Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye” featuring Tony Bennett, Patti LaBelle, Arturo Sandoval, the Miami Sound Machine|
|XXXI||1997||“Blues Brothers Bash” featuring Dan Akroyd, John Goodman, James Belushi, James Brown and ZZ Top|
|XXXII||1998||“A Tribute to Motown’s 40th Anniversary” including Boyz II Men, Smokey Robinson, Queen Latifah, Martha Reeves and The Temptations|
|XXXIII||1999||“Celebration of Soul, Salsa and Swing” featuring Stevie Wonder, Gloria Estefan, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Savion Glover|
|XXXIV||2000||“A Tapestry of Nations” featuring Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, and Toni Braxton|
|XXXV||2001||“The Kings of Rock and Pop” featuring Aerosmith, *N’SYNC, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige and Nelly|
|XXXVII||2003||Shania Twain, No Doubt and Sting|
|XXXVIII||2004||Janet Jackson, Kid Rock, P. Diddy, Nelly and Justin Timberlake|
|XL||2006||The Rolling Stones|
|XLII||2008||Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers|
|XLIII||2009||Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band|
|XLV||2011||The Black Eyed Peas, Usher, Slash|
|XLVI||2012||Madonna with guests Cee Lo Green, LMFAO, M.I.A. and Nicki Minaj|
|XLVII||2013||Beyoncé with guests Destiny’s Child|
|XLVIII||2014||Bruno Mars with guests Red Hot Chili Peppers|
|XLIX||2015||Katy Perry with guests Missy Elliott and Lenny Kravitz|
|50||2016||Coldplay with guets Beyoncé and Bruno Mars|
|LIII||2019||Maroon 5 with guests Travis Scott and Big Boi|
|LIV||2020||Jennifer Lopez and Shakira|