8 Most Memorable Super Bowl Halftime Moments of All Time

Jamie Freedman
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The Super Bowl halftime show has steadily gotten more and more flashy over the years, to the point where you might have a better idea of who is performing than which teams are actually playing the game. And Super Bowl LII will be no exception, with the return of one of the event’s most controversial past performers, Justin Timberlake.

With so many amazing performances to choose from, let’s take a look at the most memorable Super Bowl halftime show moments of all time.

Most Charming Blooper

Super Bowl XLIII, 2009.

In an adrenaline-fueled move, Bruce Springsteen slid to his knees, and accidentally propelled himself into one of the cameramen. In the moments afterward, he smiled sheepishly in apology, got up and kept on going. The Boss’s infamous “crotch-slam” was pure live television gold.

Best Overall Performance

Super Bowl XXVII, 1993.

Due to low interest in the halftime show in previous years, the NFL booked the most famous entertainer on the planet in 1993: Michael Jackson. As a result, the viewership for the halftime show ended up being higher than the game itself. MJ’s commanding performance did not disappoint. Comparatively simple by today’s production standards, the show relied on fierce dance moves and basic pyrotechnics. Only The King of Pop could have kicked off the show standing completely motionless for a full 90 seconds while the crowd went wild.

Most Anticipated Guest Performance

Destiny’s Child had been broken up for seven years by the time Beyoncé played the Super Bowl in 2013. So when news started circulating that Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams would be making guest appearances next to Beyoncé, things got really exciting. It was incredibly satisfying to see the three powerhouse performers together and hear those vocal harmonies one more time.

Best Entrance

A performance by Lady Gaga is always guaranteed to be full of surprises, but the pop star outdid herself when she started her Super Bowl LI performance on top of NRG Stadium in Houston. After drones flew above her head, lighting up the sky to create an American flag, she jumped from the heavens and ascended onto the stage below. Although it was a pre-recorded moment due to weather concerns, it didn’t make the effect any less magical.

Most Memed Moment

Katy Perry‘s entire halftime show was full of goofy production value, including dancing beach balls and a shooting star swing. But no one could have anticipated that Left Shark and his unsynchronized dance moves would go viral. In retrospect, there are still questions about what was really so funny about Left Shark and why his moves were so floppy, but it’s still hilarious!

Most Necessary Guest Performer

When it was announced that Coldplay would be headlining the Super Bowl halftime show in 2016, most people responded with a resounding “why, though?” But the disappointment subsided after it was revealed that the band would be joined by Bruno Mars and, most importantly, Beyoncé. And while Queen Bey’s performance of “Formation,” an impenitent Black Lives Matter anthem, caused some controversy, most agreed that we needed the powerhouse performer in order to make the show worth watching.

Most Remembered “Blooper”

Super Bowl XXXVIII, 2004.

This list would not be complete without mention of Janet JacksonJustin Timberlake, and the most notorious wardrobe malfunction of all time. Whether or not it was really an accident, “Nipplegate” will be remembered for years to come.

Best Intervention from Mother Nature

There is no doubt that Super Bowl XLI will go down as having one of the most incredible halftime shows in the history of the event. Rock ‘n roll legend Prince was slated to perform, but heavy rain had the event coordinators worried about safety. When they asked if Prince was okay with performing in these conditions, he asked, “Can you make it rain harder?”

It led to an astounding performance that seemed blessed by divine intervention. How can you beat seeing “Purple Rain” performed in the actual rain?

[This article was first published on Feb 5, 2016]


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Jamie Freedman
Love of The Beatles, Palestrina, Sharon Jones, Black Mirror, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and Game of Thrones.
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