Super Bowl Halftime Shows:
Image from Mashable.com
Rihanna performed at the halftime show for Super Bowl LVII on February 12, 2023. She delivered a hit-driven setlist of a dozen songs: Bitch Better Have My Money / Where Have You Been? / Only Girl in the World / We Found Love / Rude Boy / Work / Wild Thoughts / Pour It Up / All of the Lights / Run This Town / Umbrella / Diamonds Click here to see full performance on YouTube.
While it’s too early to weigh in on where her performance stands compared to past Super Bowls, this page does offer a ranking of every previous halftime show. More than 100 lists have been aggregated to create this ranking.
Click here to see other media-based lists, such as best videos and best music books of all time.
Check out Dave’s Music Database podcast: The Best Super Bowl Halftime Shows. Premiere: February 15, 2022 at 7pm CST. Check out new episodes every Tuesday.
1. Prince (2007). No one was surprised that the Purple One delivered a kick-ass show, but covers of “Proud Mary,” “All Along the Watchtower,” and the Foo Fighters’ “Best of You” were surprising. What left everyone in awe, however, was Prince’s apparent God-like power to summon just the right weather to accompany a set list that ended with “Purple Rain.” Setlist: We Will Rock You / Let’s Co Crazy / Baby I’m a Star / Proud Mary / 1999 / All Along the Watchtower / Best of You / Purple Rain Click here to see full performance on YouTube.
2. U2 (2002). In the wake of 9/11, U2 was one of the biggest voices decrying the horrific attacks and eulogizing those lost. During a stirring performance of “Where the Streets Have No Name”, a banner behind the band listed the victims. Setlist: Beautiful Day / MLK / Where the Streets Have No Name Click here to see full performance on YouTube.
3. Michael Jackson (1993). As is so often the case with The King of Pop, this was a benchmark. It served as the standard for other shows to follow. With only a 12-minute set, MJ introduced the Super Bowl to the astonishing concept that a big-name, internationally-recognized pop artist could wow an audience more than marching bands, cheesy song-and-dance numbers. Setlist: Jam / Why You Wanna Trip on Me / Billie Jean / Black or White / Another Part of Me / We Are the World / Heal the World Click here to see full performance on YouTube.
4. Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band (2009). Personally, I’d be ecstatic to give The Boss the halftime show every year. He knows how to work crowds into frenzies, if not with his preacher-like introductions than with his adrenalin-fueled performances. That slide into the camera crotch-first could have ended things before they even got going, but Bruce powered on, seemingly unharmed. Setlist: Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out / Born to Run / Working on a Dream / Glory Days Click here to see full performance on YouTube.
5. Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child (2013). Beyoncé was a guest with Coldplay in 2016 (See #21), but this time got the stage all to herself. She was a big enough name that she didn’t need a slew of guest appearances, but she did have a very welcome reunion with Destiny’s Child bandmates Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams. Setlist: Run the World (Girls) / Love on Top / Crazy in Love / End of Time / Baby Boy / Bootylicious (Destiny’s Child) / Independent Women (Destiny’s Child) / Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It) (Destiny’s Child) / Halo Click here to see full performance on YouTube.
6. The Kings of Rock and Pop (2001). This was an odd mix of artists suggesting the halftime committee wasn’t convinced Aerosmith would have enough appeal on their own (they absolutely would have) so they added N Sync, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, and Nelly to the mix. Then again, the all-star version of “Walk This Way,” complete with Spears’ cleavage-baring Aerosmith T-shirt, was memorable. Also, the opening sketch with Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, and Chris Rock was worth the price of admission. Setlist: Bye Bye Bye (‘N Sync) / I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing (Aerosmith) / It’s Gonna Be Me (‘N Sync) / Jaded (Aerosmith) / Walk This Way (Aerosmith with ‘N Sync, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, and Nelly) Click here to see full performance on YouTube.
7. Paul McCartney (2005). In the wake of “Nipple Gate” (see #9), the powers-that-be behind the Super Bowl halftime shows opted to go with a safe, well-known classic rocker. There is arguably no bigger musician on the planet than this ex-Beatle and he provided a Beatle-centric set list completely free of any “wardrobe malfunctions.” Setlist: Drive My Car / Get Back / Live and Let Die / Hey Jude Click here to see full performance on YouTube.
8. Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, et al (2004). No one remembers now, but this was actually another overstuffed show with too many performers. Instead, this one gave us the most infamous moment in Super Bowl halftime history when Justin Timberlake sang to Janet Jackson that he would have her naked by the end of the song “Rock Your Body” and then proceeded to tear off part of her costume, exposing her breast. Setlist: The Way You Move (Spirit of Houston and Ocean of Soul marching bands) / All of You (Janet Jackson) / Bad Boy for Life (P. Diddy) / Diddy (to the tune of “Mickey”) / Hot in Herre (Nelly) / Mo Money Mo Problems (P. Diddy) / Bawitdaba (Kid Rock) / Cowboy (Kid Rock) / Rhythm Nation (Janet Jackson) / Rock Your Body (Justin Timberlake with Janet Jackson) Click here to see full performance on YouTube.
9. Lady Gaga (2017). Setlist: God Bless America / This Land Is Your Land / Poker Face / Born This Way / Telephone / Just Dance / Million Reasons / Bad Romance Click here to see full performance on YouTube.
10. Diana Ross (1996). Doing a medley of her hits on a stage surrounded by hundreds of performers looked a little too much like some of the pre-Michael Jackson shows, but it was hard to deny her diva status when she departed in a helicopter. Setlist: Stop! In the Name of Love / You Keep Me Hangin’ On / Baby Love / You Can’t Hurry Love / Why Do Fools Fall in Love / Chain Reaction / Reach Out and Touch Somebody’s Hand / Ain’t No Mountain High Enough / I Will Survive / Take Me Higher Click here to see full performance on YouTube.
11. Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Dr. Dre, Eminem, and Kendrick Lamar (2022). The announced all-star hip-hop lineup also included a surprise guest appearance from 50 Cent. Setlist: Dr. Dre with Snoop Dogg “The Next Episode” / Dr. Dre with Snoop Dogg “California Love” / 50 Cent “In Da Club” / Mary J. Blige “Family Affair” / Mary J. Blige “No More Drama” / Kendrick Lamar “M.a.a.d City” / Kendrick Lamar “Alright” / Kendrick Lamar with Eminem “Forgot About Dre” / Eminem “Lose Yourself” / Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg with Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Mary J. Blige, & 50 Cent “Still Dre” Click here to see full performance on YouTube.
12. The Rolling Stones (2006). The opening montage suggesting The Rolling Stones and the NFL had gone hand in hand over the years was a little odd. However, there was no arguing with picking what some have called the greatest rock and roll band of all time to keep viewers eyes peeled to the set for halftime, even if the band could long ago have applied for their AARP memberships in America. Besides, Jagger proved he could still prance about on stage like someone half his age. Setlist: Start Me Up / Rough Justice / (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction Click here to see full performance on YouTube.
13. Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Bad Bunny, J. Balvin, Emme, Muniz (2020)
14. Katy Perry, Lenny Kravitz, Missy Elliott, Arizona State University Sun Devil Marching Band (2015)
15. Madonna with LMFAO, Nicki Minaj, M.I.A, and Cee-Lo Green (2012)
16. Bruno Mars, Red Hot Chili Peppers (2014)
17. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (2008)
18. Coldplay with Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, Mark Ronson, Gustavo Dudamel, University of California Marching Band, Youth Orchestra L.A. (2016)
19. Shania Twain, No Doubt, Sting (2003)
20. The Who (2010)
21. Salute to Motown’s 40th Anniversary: Boyz II Men, Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves, The Temptations, Queen Latifah, Grambling State University Band; 1998)
22. Celebration of Soul, Salsa and Swing: Stevie Wonder, Gloria Estefan, Chaka Khan, KISS, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Savion Glover (1999)
23. The Weeknd (2021)
24. Rockin’ Country Sunday: Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt, The Judds (1994)
25. Black Eyed Peas with Usher and Slash (2011)
26. The Blues Brothers Bash: The Blues Brothers, ZZ Top, James Brown, Catherine Crier (1997)
27. Justin Timberlake, the Tennessee Kids, University of Minnesota Marching Band (2018)
28. Something Grand: Chubby Checker, The Rockettes, 88 grand pianos, the Mighty CSUN Matador Wall of Sound (1988)
29. Tapestry of Nations: Phil Collins Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, Toni Braxton, 80-person choir, Edward James Olmos (2000)
30. Maroon 5, Travis Scott, Big Boi, Georgia State University Marching Band (2019)
31. University of Arizona, Grambling State University, & University of Michigan Marching Bands (1967) 32. Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye: Pattil LaBelle, Indiana Jones & Marion Ravenwood, Teddy Pendergrass, Tony Bennett, Arturo Sandoval, Miami Sound Machine (1995)
33. Salute to New Orleans & 40th Anniversary of Peanuts: Pete Fountain, Doug Kershaw, Irma Thomas, Nicholls State University Marching Band, Southern University Marching Band, USL Marching Band (1990)
34. Salute to Louis Armstrong: Ella Fitzgerald, Carol Channing, Al Hirt, & USMC Drill Team (1972)
35. Grambling State University Marching Band (1968)
36. Disney’s Salute to Superstars of Silver Screen: University of Florida and Florida State University Marching Bands (1984)
37. Tribute to Duke Ellington: Mercer Ellington, Grambling State University Marching Band (1975)
38. A Salute to the 1960s and Motown: Up with People (1982).
39. From Paris to Paris of America: Tyler Apache Belles Drill Team, Apache Band, Pete Fountain, Al Hirt (1984)
40. America Thanks: Florida A&M University (1969)
41. Small World Tribute to 25 Years of the Super Bowl: New Kids on the Block, Disney characters, Warren Moon, 2000 local children, audience card stunt (1991)
42. Winter Magic and Salute to 1992 Winter Olympics: Gloria Estefan, Brian Boitano, Dorothy Hamill (1992)
43. Salute to Hollywood’s 100th Anniversary: George Burns, Mickey Rooney, Grambling State University Marching Band, Disney characters, Southern California-area High School drill teams with dancers (1987)
44. KaleidoSUPERscope: Los Angeles Drill Team (1983)
45. Mardi Gras Festival: Southern University Marching Band, Helen O’Connell (1981)
46. A Salute to the Big Band Era: Up with People, Grambling State University Marching Bands (1980)
47. Salute to the Caribbean: Ken Hamilton, various Caribbean bands (1979)
48. Tribute to Mardi Gras: Carol Channing, Southern University Marching Band (1970)
49. Southeast Missouri State Marching Band (1971)
50. 200 Years and Just a Baby – A Tribute to America’s Bicentennial: Up with People (1976)
51. Happiness Is: University of Michigan Marching Band, Woody Herman, Andy Williams (1974)
52. World of Children’s Dreams: United States Air Force Tops in Blue (1985)
53. Beat of the Future: Up with People (1986)
54. Be-Bop Bamboozled in 3-D: Elvis Presto, South Florida-area dancers and performers with 3-D effects (1989)
55. A Musical America: University of Texas Marching Band, Judy Mallett – Miss Texas 1973 (1974)
56. It’s a Small World: Los Angeles Unified All-City Band & audience card stunt (1977)
First posted 2/2/2013; last updated 2/13/2023.
Thank you for this list.ReplyDelete
Found your link on UCR - Do you have a favorite(s) ?ReplyDelete
My favorite is Springsteen. As I say in my comments, I'd be ecstatic if he did the halftime show every year. I also thought Prince and U2 did awesome jobs. Michael Jackson's show set a new standard, but when I watch it again, it has a certain cheesiness to it. Also, as much as I'm a fan of classic rock, I thought The Who was weak and The Rolling Stones and Paul McCartney were both underwhelming. Thanks for asking!Delete
BTW, you said you found my link on UCR. What is that?
UCR > http://ultimateclassicrock.com/top-five-super-bowl-halftime-show-performances/ReplyDelete
Dave Whitaker · Kansas City, Missouri
This list and 30 others have been aggregated into a list of the top 10 Super Bowl halftime shows at the Davesmusicdatabase.com blog: http://davesmusicdatabase.blogspot.com/2012/02/top-10-best-super-bowl-halftime-shows.html.
Reply · Like · Follow Post · February 5, 2012 at 11:54am
Ha, it was from a year ago,
I read comments there, your list is way more complete, Thank you.
Thanks for the positive feedback! That's funny about UCR - I'd posted my link there a year ago, I guess. I forgot all about it!Delete
I updated the list this year to show the ranking for all the halftime shows. Last year I just did the top ten.