15. The Weeknd (2021)
The Weeknd’s halftime show at Super Bowl LV in 2021 was a mesmerizing and surreal experience. Taking center stage at the Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, the artist put together a choreographed set that was unlike anything we had seen before. With a dazzling array of lights, lasers, and special effects, the Canadian singer transformed the stadium into a futuristic dreamscape of sorts. He played several of his most notable hits, including “Blinding Lights,” “Can’t Feel My Face,” and “Starboy.”
While it may have strayed from the usual halftime performance, it was undoubtedly a spectacle. Even if you weren’t necessarily a fan of the set, you were surely talking about The Weeknd’s performance the following Monday at work.
14. Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, Coldplay (2016)
The 2016 Super Bowl halftime show brought together an electrifying lineup. Bruno Mars, Beyoncé, and Coldplay could’ve each headlined their own shows — and we’d still be excited. Taking place at Levi’s Stadium in Northern California, Coldplay kicked off the show with noteworthy hits and large quantities of color (as seen above). Beyoncé then took the stage by storm, demonstrating the power, raw energy, and potency that only Beyoncé can bring to the table.
Bruno Mars then ended the show with swagger and energy. His smooth vocals and dynamic dance moves added an extra layer of excitement to the show, culminating in a thrilling finale that had the crowd on its feet.
13. Lady Gaga (2017)
Lady Gaga’s halftime show at the 2017 Super Bowl was a dazzling display. Held in Houston, Gaga took to the stage with an electrifying entrance, descending from the roof of the stadium on wires as she belted out her greatest hits. From “Poker Face” to “Born This Way,” Lady Gaga captivated viewers with extravagant costumes and interesting choreography. The performance reached its crescendo with an emotional rendition of “Million Reasons,” during which Lady Gaga showcased her raw emotion and vulnerability.
With its stunning visuals and infectious energy, Lady Gaga’s halftime show was a testament to her status as one of the most dynamic performers of her generation. Being able to showcase these talents at such a large event will likely go down as a highlight within her sparkling career.
12. Paul McCartney (2005)
McCartney’s halftime show was a masterclass in musical craftsmanship and showmanship. The performance began with McCartney taking the stage solo, strumming an acoustic guitar and singing “Drive My Car” to the delight of the crowd. He then launched into some Beatles classics, including “Get Back” and “Live and Let Die”.
The highlight of the show came during “Hey Jude,” as the entire stadium joined in to sing along, creating a powerful and uplifting moment. When an entire stadium full of people is singing along in unison, you can’t help but get chills.
11. Diana Ross (1996)
Diana Ross sure knows how to make an entrance. The performance began with Ross making a grand appearance via helicopter, descending onto the stage in a glittering gold gown. This scene set the tone for a show-stopping performance. Ross then launched singing all of her greatest hits, including “Stop! In the Name of Love,” “You Can’t Hurry Love,” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”.
The performance reached its crescendo with Ross being whisked away in a helicopter as fireworks lit up the night sky, creating a truly unforgettable moment
10. Britney Spears, NSYNC, Aerosmith (2001)
This mix of superstars was quite potent. You had one of the biggest rock groups of all time paired with an iconic boy band and arguably the biggest pop star of her era. Held in Tampa, the halftime show began with NSYNC taking the stage to perform their hit song “Bye Bye Bye,” showcasing their signature dance moves. Britney Spears then joined the group for a medley of her hits, including “Oops!…I Did It Again” and “Baby One More Time”.
The performance reached its climax when Aerosmith emerged on stage to perform their classic anthem “Walk This Way,” joined by NSYNC and Britney Spears for an electrifying collaboration that brought the house down.
9. U2 (2002)
This was a special show. In the wake of 9/11, U2 put on a very memorable halftime performance in New Orleans. As seen above, Bono wore a jacket with the American flag sewn into the fabric. The show opened with a stirring rendition of “Beautiful Day,” accompanied by a backdrop of names scrolling on a giant screen, honoring the victims of the tragic events.
As Bono sang, the screen displayed images of the American flag and scenes from New York City, creating a somber yet uplifting atmosphere. The performance reached its emotional peak with “Where the Streets Have No Name,” as the band played against a backdrop of a giant, flowing American flag. The halftime show concluded with Bono unfurling a flag inscribed with the names of the victims, symbolizing unity and solidarity in the face of adversity.
8. Madonna (2012)
Even to this day, Madonna remains as one of the biggest names in music. For over 40 years, she’s been a global icon. It’s not surprising to learn she would be performing at a Super Bowl halftime show. Madonna’s performance kicked off with a spectacular entrance as she was carried onto the stage by a group of Roman gladiators. From there, Madonna launched into a high-energy medley of her greatest hits, including “Vogue,” “Music,” and “Like a Prayer.”
Madonna was joined on stage by a star-studded lineup of guest performers, including Nicki Minaj, M.I.A., CeeLo Green, and LMFAO. With its extravagant production values and memorable moments, Madonna’s halftime show in 2012 was a testament to her enduring influence and status as one of pop music’s most iconic figures.
7. Katy Perry (2015)
Katy Perry was at the height of her popularity when accepting the opportunity to play the halftime show in 2015. The performance kicked off with Perry riding onto the stage atop a giant mechanical lion while belting out her hit song “Roar.” Throughout the show, Perry seamlessly transitioned between some of her biggest hits, including “Teenage Dream” and “Firework,” keeping the energy high and the audience engaged.
One of the most memorable moments came when Perry was joined on stage by Lenny Kravitz for a rock-infused rendition of “I Kissed a Girl,” followed by a surprise appearance by Missy Elliott. All in all, this was a terrific experience.
6. Michael Jackson (1993)
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the King of Pop. He played his famous halftime performance at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. From the moment he appeared on stage, standing motionless for several minutes before launching into his first song, “Jam,” Jackson’s presence was palpable. His flawless dance moves, powerful vocals, and larger-than-life stage presence mesmerized the audience, creating a spectacle that transcended the game itself. The highlight of the set came with Jackson’s rendition of “Billie Jean,” during which he performed his signature moonwalk. For those in attendance and watching at home, it was a real treat.
5. Beyoncé (2013)
Queen B brought down the house in New Orleans. It was even more fun when her Destiny’s Child bandmates Michelle Williams and Kelly Rowland joined her on stage. When you’ve got the gravitas of Beyoncé, it’s hard to nitpick anything she does. She has put out some of the most influential music in the world over the last half-century. When given the chance to watch her perform, let it wash over you like a warm embrace.
4. Rihanna (2023)
Rihanna came back into the spotlight and absolutely crushed it. Unlike others who’ve performed, she didn’t rely on complicated choreography or a host of dance moves. She took the mic and ROCKED IT with many of her classic hits from various points in her life. There’s something to be said about a singular performance, and Rihanna pulled it off with flying colors.
3. Shakira, Jennifer Lopez (2020)
Talk about star power. There couldn’t have been a more perfect pairing in the city of Miami than J-Lo and Shakira. The energy emanating from this performance was immense. From the dancing on stage to the host of bangers each has in their respective arsenals, this was not only an underrated performance in the grand scheme of performances, but also a highly successful one.
2. Prince (2007)
Prince delivered a show-stopping performance in Miami. Against a backdrop of pouring rain, Prince mesmerized the audience with a dynamic setlist that included iconic hits such as “Let’s Go Crazy,” and “Baby I’m a Star.” His immense stage presence was on full display for the hundreds of millions around the world watching.
One of the most memorable moments of the performance came during Prince’s rendition of “Purple Rain,” as he played an epic guitar solo against the backdrop of a stunning visual display featuring images of raindrops falling. Prince’s halftime performance solidified his status as one of the greatest musical talents of all time and remains a defining moment in Super Bowl history.
1. Kendrick Lamar, Mary J. Blige, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, 50 Cent (2022)
With the 2022 Super Bowl taking place in LA, it only made sense for the halftime show to pay homage to the West Coast rap scene. Boy, did they — with a plethora of heavyweights from the late 90s/early 2000s who absolutely brought the house down. Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, and Dr. Dre represented for the city of Los Angeles in an unreal way. From there, titans of the industry in Eminem, Mary J. Blige, and 50 Cent added further to the pageantry.
If you’re of a certain age/from a certain generation, this mashup of music royalty must’ve felt like a dream.