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Best Super Bowl halftime shows of all time

Over the years, the Super Bowl has featured some fantastic halftime shows, but whose performance went down as the best to ever be on stage?

Best Super Bowl halftime shows of all time
TAMPA, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 07: A view of the stadium as The Weeknd performs during the Pepsi Super Bowl LV Halftime Show at Raymond James Stadium on February 07, 2021 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The NFL‘s Super Bowl halftime show has turned into one of the year’s biggest musical events. Where did this year’s performance come in amongst the pantheon of the best Super Bowl halftime shows of the past?

The Weeknd’s Super Bowl halftime show was a visual spectacle

Due to the lack of people in attendance, The Weeknd was able to use Raymond James Stadium to his advantage. Instead of using only a stage, he turned the stadium into his stage.

The visuals of the show were interesting. They went from a choir full of I don’t know what all the way to a group of dancers recreating a story that began in the “Blinding Lights” music video. In there, he appeared with a bloody face from a car wreck to then a fight.

The Weeknd continued the theme up to his appearance at the 2020 American Music Awards and Video Music Awards by showing up in face coverings overtop of a beaten face. It all was a part of a marketing campaign that found its way into the Super Bowl LV halftime show.

The lasting image was the close-up camera of the Weeknd recording himself appearing lost or uncertain of where to go. If anything, it seemed closer to Face Timing your parents for the first time or your Snapchat on a night out than a Super Bowl show at that moment. Nevertheless, it’s an image that will be used as a meme for a long time.

His 14-minute performance featured several of his Grammy award-winning hits like “Starboy” and “Call Out My Name.” Other songs included “Earned It” and the aforementioned “Blinding Lights.”

There were no special guests, and by the time his halftime performance ended, the feelings were mixed. When the smoke settled, The Weekend’s Super Bowl halftime show was solid. However, it won’t go down as one of the best performances of all time.

Best Super Bowl halftime show performances of all time

The Super Bowl halftime show has seen several notable performances over the years. Everything from Left Shark, to a wardrobe malfunction, to Maroon 5. Here are some of the best shows and performances in Super Bowl halftime history.

Super Bowl XLI – Prince

There is no way I could put together a list of the best Super Bowl halftime performances and not kick it off with the show Prince put on in Miami back in 2007. In the middle of a stage shaped in the “Artist Formerly Known As Prince” symbol, he put on a performance that wowed everyone. Even those who helped put it on.

Kicking things off with Queens’ “We Will Rock You,” fireworks and lights lit up the night sky. He was later joined by the Florida A&M University Marching Band, where he performed a mashup of his songs “Baby I’m a Star,” “1999,” and the Creedence Clearwater Revival song, “Proud Mary.”

The moment that ultimately stands out, and what makes this the best Super Bowl halftime show of all time, is Prince standing in the middle of the stage belting out “Purple Rain” amidst a torrential downpour. It is a scene that even Hollywood would have said was too good to believe.

Super Bowl XLVII – Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child

If Beyoncé is involved, it’s guaranteed to be a performance that will be as close to perfect as it gets. Arguably the best female performance, her Super Bowl halftime performance is no exception.

Not only did the crowd get a terrific show from her, but also, a reunion. Jumping out of the stage (literally) were the other two members of the smash girl group Destiny’s Child: Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams. The trio even performed the song “Single Ladies” together, even though it is a Beyoncé solo song.

The Super Bowl performance ended with an incredible rendition of her song “Halo.” Following the song were enough fireworks to think this it was the Fourth of July. 

Super Bowl LIV – Jennifer Lopez and Shakira

With the Super Bowl in Miami, the NFL wanted to bring the rich Latin heritage to the forefront. They ensured that by having two of the most impactful Latin female singers ever in Shakira and Jennifer Lopez, coming together for the Super Bowl halftime show.

The whole performance was incredibly frenetic. They were whipping from one stage piece to the next before the audience could even figure out what was going on. Some of the highlights included Shakira shaking her hips at the speed of light and Lopez reprising her Jenny From the Block days on a pole.

The Super Bowl LIV halftime performance put the Latin culture in the center of the show. It goes down as one of the best in recent years.

Super Bowl XXXV – Aerosmith and NSYNC

If you are from the 90s, this was the show for you.

The show was billed as only Aerosmith and NSYNC but a few surprises were in store for the crowd. The two bands played some of their all-time classics from “Bye, Bye, Bye” to “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.”

This was the first year that fans were allowed on the field surrounding the stage. Generally, it gives the show more of a feel similar to a traditional concert. Where things went up another notch in this performance were the special guest appearances. Suddenly, Nelly, Britney Spears, and Mary J. Blige were coming out of nowhere. The stars came together to perform a rousing version of “Walk This Way.”

Together they capped off an incredible Super Bowl halftime performance that is viewed as one of the best.

Super Bowl XXVII – Michael Jackson

No list of the best Super Bowl halftime performances would be complete without including the King of Pop, Michael Jackson.

Jackson’s appearance began the trend of signing top acts for the Super Bowl to attract more viewers. To this day, it continues to work. Jackson’s performance, specifically, reeled in over 133.4 million viewers.

Jackson started the show by performing his hits “Billie Jean,” along with “Black and White.” He ended the show with the audience holding up cards depicting him participating in various humanitarian efforts. Simultaneously, a choir of 3,500 local Los Angeles area children joined him in singing “We Are the World.” The only thing missing was “Thriller”, but maybe that is just me being picky.

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Tommy Garrett is a writer for Pro Football Network covering the NFL and fantasy football. You can read more of his work here and follow him at @TommygarrettPFN on Twitter.

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