When the Super Bowl began, Halftime Shows were more subdued. The first performances consisted of marching bands from nearby schools forming iconic American shapes, like the Liberty Bell or an eagle.
As the game got bigger, so did the Halftime Shows. In 1970, Carol Channing, a famous broadway and movie star, became the first solo performer. Six years later, the Super Bowl celebrated America’s 200th anniversary with concert-quality sound, several hundred performers, and a cake on wheels. The following few years featured Mickey Mouse, dancing dogs, jet packs, perky performers, kaleidoscope card effects, and yellow ribbons for the homecoming of 52 American hostages.
Fast forward to 1993, when Michael Jackson took the stage, and ratings for the Halftime Shows began to surpass the actual game.
Top Super Bowl Halftime Shows Based on Number of Viewers
1. Rihanna with 121 million viewers
2. Katy Perry with 118.5 million viewers
3. Lady Gaga with 117.5 million viewers
4. Coldplay with 115.5 million viewers
5. Bruno Mars with 115.3 million viewers
While we agree that many of these shows were worth the ratings, not all of them have made it to our list. So, without further ado, here are our 5 favourite Halftime Shows of all time.
5. Lady Gaga (2017)
Lady Gaga’s 2017 performance was one of the most ambitious Halftime Shows yet.
The pop star kicked off the show with “This Land Is Your Land”, before descending down to the field from the roof of the stadium. The performance continued with fan favourites including “Poker Face,” “Born This Way” and a memorable piano performance of “Million Reasons.”
The show ended with Gaga singing “Bad Romance” in a football-inspired costume. It was a fitting end to a high-energy Halftime Show that few will forget.
4. Beyoncé (2013)
Beyoncé’s performance during the Super Bowl XLVII Halftime Show was nothing short of epic. Her high-energy dancing, costume changes, and the appearance of Destiny’s Child made the performance one of the most talked-about Halftime Shows ever.
She opened the show with a pyrotechnics show and an unforgettable performance of “Love On Top” and “Crazy In Love.” Queen Bey continued with fan favourites like “Single Ladies,” “Baby Boy” and “Halo”.
Beyoncé’s performance was phenomenal and showed the world she is a true stage icon.
3. Rihanna (2023)
Rihanna’s halftime show landed the third best halftime performance in Super Bowl history … at least for us. It’s worth noting that this show isn’t universally adored, as some critics argue that it lacked the spectacle of other iconic performances.
But as far as were concerned, Rihanna’s talent and star power were undeniable. Featuring 12 of her songs, she showcased her incredible voices and ability to command a stage, leaving a lasting impression on the biggest sporting event of the year.
2. Katy Perry (2015)
Katy Perry’s performance in 2015 was one of the most highly anticipated Halftime Shows of all time.
She kicked it off with her song “Roar” as she rode in atop a giant lion puppet. The spectacle set the tone for the rest of the show, which just kept getting better. Perry continued with renditions of her classics, dances with the viral left shark, and an unexpected guest appearance from Missy Elliott.
Her performance ended with a rousing rendition of “Firework” that had the entire stadium on their feet as Perry soared through the air.
1. J Lo & Shakira (2020)
The 2020 Halftime Show during Super Bowl LIV was full of energy and excitement.
Jennifer Lopez and Shakira set the field on fire with their performances of famous songs like “Hips Don’t Lie,” “Whenever, Wherever,” “Jenny From The Block” and “On the Floor”. The show was also packed with acrobatics, dancers, and fans from across the world singing and dancing along.
The dynamic duo then paired up for a medley that included songs in both English and Spanish. While the show may have created some controversy, we think it is the Halftime Show to beat!
Honourable Mention – Madonna (2012)
In 2012, Madonna was carried on stage dressed as a Greek goddess for XLVI. The performance included several special guests including famous acts like Nicki Minaj, LMFAO and Cee Lo Green. It also brought together several of the most iconic aspects of Halftime Shows, from acrobats to a marching band to a live choir.
Even with all of these acts and moving parts, Madonna delivered a show that was high-energy (though perhaps a bit chaotic), memorable, and deserving of the halftime stage.
The Super Bowl Halftime Shows are one of the most iconic television events of the year and always has something special and unique to offer. From Bruno Mars’ drum solo to J Lo and Shakira’s medley of English and Spanish songs, the show has continuously been one of the most spectacular events of the Super Bowl.