The Super Bowl is not just a highly anticipated sports spectacle. It is also one of the most memorable entertainment extravaganzas every year. With a massive global audience, the Super Bowl halftime show holds cultural significance.
Annually, different sets of iconic celebrities perform in the halftime show. However, few stars have left a lasting impact with their performances and controversies surrounding their shows.
Let’s review some of the Super Bowl’s most memorable halftime shows and discover how these shows have gone down in history as the most notable performances ever shown in the Big Game.
Evolution of the Halftime Show
It costs millions of dollars to stage the halftime show for the Super Bowl in the United States. More than just focusing on multi-billion revenue and observing FanDuel NFL Lines and odds, among other reputable sportsbooks, organizers, and fans look forward to the guest artists who will grace the Super Bowl halftime show at the end of the NFL season.
These halftime shows were initially intended to entertain fans waiting for the Big Game’s second half to start. The University of Arizona Symphonic Marching Band performed the first-ever Super Bowl halftime show in 1967. It was less grand compared to the halftime shows these days because there were no majestic fireworks displays and flashing lights back then.
However, Michael Jackson’s performance in 1993 made Super Bowl halftime shows equally as enjoyable as the game. Many fans even attend the Big Game just to see their favorite artists perform in the flesh.
Performers in the Super Bowl halftime shows were picked based on the following criteria: popularity, high-performance value, and a specific music genre they focused on. It is also revealed that artists who have performed in the Super Bowl won’t have a repeat performance. Still, singers like Justine Timberlake, Stevie Wonder, and Bruno Mars, among a few others, have debunked this tradition.
The artists who will perform in the halftime shows weren’t paid for their performance. Instead, they would get free advertisement and publicity during halftime shows, translating to sold-out concert tickets and albums.
Memorable Halftime Shows
Let’s learn about history’s most memorable halftime shows and discover which performances got the highest views and public attention.
Michael Jackson Iconic Show (1993)
King of Pop Michael Jackson changed the Super Bowl halftime show forever with his performance on January 31, 1993, at Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. It was produced by Radio City Productions, Scott Sanders, and Don Mischer Productions. With MJ’s appearance in the Super Bowl, his sales for his album “Dangerous” skyrocketed, and the viewership ratings between halves of the game increased for the first time in history.
Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake (2004)
The Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show was headlined by Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Kid Rock, Nelly, P. Diddy, and Jessica Simpson. The show also featured special guests like the Spirit of Houston and the Ocean of Soul marching bands. It was produced by MTV and sponsored by AOL TopSpeed.
The show was held at Reliant Stadium, Houston, Texas, on February 1, 2004. It was made controversial by an accidental exposure of Janet Jackson’s right breast. Timberlake and Jackson said it was a wardrobe malfunction, but the incident has remained a buzz among media and fans for many years.
Beyonce’s Formation and Black Panther Tribute (2016)
Coldplay headlined the Super Bowl XLVII halftime show at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California, on February 7, 2016. The special guests were Beyonce, Bruno Mars, Mark Ronson, Gustavo Dudamel, the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles, and the University of California marching band. The show was sponsored by Pepsi and was produced by Ricky Kirschner.
Beyonce performed with backup dancers wearing Black-Panther-style berets and clad in black leather. It was the artist’s way to pay homage to the Black Panthers 50 years after their formation in 1966. For the audience, it was more than just a halftime show. It was a powerful political statement from an influential icon.
Lady Gaga’s Aerial Spectacle (2017)
The Super Bowl LI halftime show featured Lady Gaga at NRG Stadium, Houston, Texas, on February 5, 2017. It was sponsored by Pepsi Zero Sugar and was produced by Ricky Kirschner.
While Gaga was performing, 300 LED-equipped shooting star quadcopter drones formed the American flag image behind the singer, who was singing atop the stadium’s roof. It was the first light show of its kind and a significant upgrade of the typical shows performed in the earlier halftime shows.
Jennifer Lopez and Shakira’s Latinx Celebration (2020)
Headlined by Latina singers Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, the Super Bowl LIV halftime show was hailed as one of the most awarded halftime shows ever. It has earned four Emmy Primetime nominations, winning one. It also received the 2021 Premios Nuestra Tierra Best Live Performance Award.
The performance was hosted by Hard Rock Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida, on February 2, 2020. It was produced by Ricky Kirschner, NFL Network, Jay-Z, and Roc Nation.
The JLo and Shakira halftime performance was hailed as the most viewed halftime show on YouTube. Moreover, it was also considered the most popular female performance in history. It was a loud celebration of Latin pride and cultural diversity amidst a time in history when discrimination against immigrants and American Latinos was evident.
Super Bowl halftime shows are embracing more inclusive and diverse performances. It was one way to unite audiences worldwide in conversations about music, entertainment, and social issues. More than just becoming viral sensations, these performances have shaped pop culture through notable guest appearances and collaborations enjoyed by many fans around the globe.