Super Bowl LV is right around the corner. Though things look quite different this year, the tradition of having a halftime performer will live on. Each year, headliners take the stage to perform a medley of hits and collaborations. To commemorate this year’s unique Super Bowl due to the COVID-19 guidelines, below are some of the best Super Bowl performances of all time.
Prince (Super Bowl 41)
One amazing performance was when Prince took the stage during Super Bowl 41 in 2007. He sang many of his songs, including “Baby I’m a Star,” “Along the Watchtower” and ended with his timeless classic, “Purple Rain” performed during an obviously unplanned downpour. Performing with a few background dancers, a band and his guitar, his performance talent was able to shine. Prince gave an iconic and memorable halftime performance without all of the effects of today’s over-the-top halftime shows. With the minimal extras that he had and the weather not on his side, he made his performance easily one of the most talked-about and most memorable of all time.
NSYNC, Aerosmith, Britney Spears, Mary J Blige, Nelly (Super Bowl 35)
Aerosmith, NSYNC, Britney Spears, Mary J Blige, and Nelly performed during Super Bowl 35’s halftime show in 2001. NSYNC and Aerosmith took turns singing their timeless hits, “Bye Bye Bye,” “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” “It’s Gonna Be Me” and “Jaded” until they were joined by the rest to sing “Walk This Way.” What was great about this performance is that it was pure talent, no extra background dancers, no extensive props and costumes and nothing controversial. We had a chance to see and hear each act perform live and create what was one of the most iconic Super Bowl halftime performances of all time. Aerosmith and Britney were the collaboration that we didn’t know worked well. Featuring NSYNC, Mary J. Blige and Nelly, the “Walk This Way” collaboration was out of this world.
Diana Ross (Super Bowl 30)
Diana Ross put on quite a halftime performance during Super Bowl 30 in 1996. The Queen of Motown was joined by a marching band to deliver a medley of her greatest hits, some of them being “Stop in the Name of Love,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “I Will Survive” and ended with a spectacular performance of “Take Me Higher.” Ross’s performance was aided with pyrotechnics, elaborate costume changes and special effects. Diana Ross’s talent, musicianship and diva status are what made this halftime show spectacular. She made quite the exit at the end, having a helicopter lift her out of the stadium during “Take Me Higher.”
Lady Gaga (Super Bowl 51)
Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl 51 performance in 2017 was a match made in heaven. If anyone knows how to put on an elaborate, over-the-top show, it’s her, and she did not disappoint. The media wondered if this performance would be “too political,” as billions of people tune in annually for the Super Bowl and the current political climate was heated following a controversial election. However, Gaga’s performance was subtle and well done in terms of politics. Her renditions of “God Bless America” and “This Land is Your Land” were followed by Gaga bungee-jumping from the top of the stadium onto the stage to perform her opening song, “Poker Face.” Some of the other songs she sang were “Bad Romance,” “Million Reasons” from her album “Joanne” and “Born This Way.” This was an amazing performance because it’s simply in Lady Gaga’s nature to do something spectacular. However, another aspect of this performance was the overall message of unity, acceptance and love for all in America.
Michael Jackson (Super Bowl 27)
Michael Jackson took the halftime performance stage during Super Bowl 27 in 1993. The King of Pop did it best with his vocals, dancing and stage presence. He performed a medley of his hit songs including “Billie Jean,” “Jam” and “Black and White.” A children’s choir also joined in to sing “We Are The World.” It is claimed that this performance increased television ratings significantly and is one of the most-watched events in American television history. These facts should not come as a surprise, however, because Michael Jackson was an incredibly talented performer. He did not need any special effects or backup dancers to pull off one of the greatest halftime shows of all time. This halftime show changed the pace for what the NFL wanted in terms of Super Bowl halftime entertainment, which was nothing but the top performers to take the stage in the following years.
Katy Perry, Lenny Kravitz, Missy Elliott (Super Bowl 49)
Katy Perry, Lenny Kravitz and Missy Elliott took the stage during Super Bowl 49 in 2015 to perform a fun collaboration of the “California Girls” singer’s hits. It starts out with Katy’s glamorous entrance on a giant, mechanical lion singing “Roar.” What I really think made the show exciting was the awesome rock rendition of “I Kissed a Girl” as a duet between Lenny Kravitz and Perry. Missy Elliott also made a guest appearance to sing some of her hit singles. This pop-filled show ended with Katy singing “Firework” with her exiting the stage on a shooting star and a brilliant fireworks show to close. This show could go down in history as one of the best simply because it is fun and entertaining. A nationally-televised performance does not always have to have a political or stand-out message. Not only was this performance just that, but it created one of the most iconic internet memes of its time: the left shark.
This year, the Super Bowl Pepsi Halftime Show headliner will be The Weeknd, and there are no confirmed guests to share the stage with him. Many fans believe that performing at this year’s Super Bowl Halftime Show may have cost The Weeknd Grammy nominations as there are scheduling conflicts with these events. If you haven’t already, you can watch the teaser for his performance on the CBS network or view it here.
Super Bowl LV will be broadcasted on CBS on Feb. 7, 2021. To follow social distancing guidelines, there will be roughly 22,000 fans with 7,500 of those seats filled by front-line workers.
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