MINNEAPOLIS, MN - FEBRUARY 04: Justin Timberlake performs during the Pepsi Super Bowl LII Halftime Show at U.S. Bank Stadium on February 4, 2018 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The 20 Best Super Bowl Halftime Shows of All Time, Ranked

Here are some of the most epic performances of all time.

The Super Bowl halftime show is an event unlike any other. For some viewers, it's more important than the actual game. For the musicians, it's a chance to perform for hundreds of millions of people all over the globe. This year, R&B artist Usher is set to take the stage.

"It's an honor of a lifetime to finally check a Super Bowl performance off my bucket list," Usher said in a statement. "I can't wait to bring the world a show unlike anything else they've seen from me before. Thank you to the fans and everyone who made this opportunity happen. I'll see you real soon."

Usher joins the list of legends who've owned the Super Bowl halftime stage. Performers are always upping the ante, pulling big moves like dropping a new album or kicking off a world tour right after. And every year, the same debate is revived: who owns the title of best Super Bowl halftime show of all time?

The names of performers who have graced the halftime stage are nothing short of iconic: Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson with Justin Timberlake, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, the Rolling Stones, to name a few. But Super Bowl halftime shows weren't always the spectacle we've come to know. Super Bowl I in the Los Angeles Coliseum featured marching bands from The University of Arizona, Grambling University, and Anaheim High School. Oh, how far we've come.

Ahead of Super Bowl LVIII on Sunday, February 11, here are the 20 best Super Bowl halftime shows of all time:

20. The Weeknd (2021)

Due to Covid restrictions, The Weeknd performed for a half-empty stadium. But he and his team still went all out to deliver an electrifying performance. The visually stunning set pieces included a dizzying maze of flashing lights that The Weekend stumbled through, and a troupe of dancers with grotesque bandaged faces to accompany his hit "I Can't Feel My Face."

19. Shania Twain, Sting and No Doubt (2003)

While many thought Shania Twain got jipped - no backup dancers or flair accompanied her performance - the show was cranked up several notches when Gwen Stefani and No Doubt took the stage with punk-rock cheerleaders. The highlight of the show was Stefani and Sting's duet of "Message in a Bottle."


18. Tom Petty (2008)

While most artists opt to go as big as possible when they headline the Super Bowl halftime show, Tom Petty went with a relatively paired-down performance. The flashy tricks took a back seat to his commanding presence and his timeless, old-school vibes.


17. Katy Perry and Missy Elliott (2015)

For Katy Perry's spot, the "I Kissed a Girl" singer created a trippy, psychedelic fantasy that had viewers wondering if the punch at the Super Bowl party had been dosed. For "Roar" she rode into the stadium on a lion. Missy Elliott owned the stage with her hits "Get Ur Freak On" and Work It." But outshining both of them that evening was the infamous "Left Shark," whose lackadaisical dance moves became a meme that endured for years after halftime ended.


16. Diana Ross (1996)

Diana Ross was the ultimate diva back in the nineties. She entered the stage by descending from a sky platform frothing with sparklers. And she somehow managed to change her outfit with each song. For the finale, while donning a golden cape, Diana was lifted into the air while singing "Ain't No Mountain High Enough". Then suddenly, a helicopter flew onto the field, scooped up Diana, and took her away. Hey, divas have places to be.


15. Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers (2014)

While many people questioned whether Bruno Mars had the chops or a large enough catalog to handle a show as prestigious as the Super Bowl halftime show, he handily silenced the naysayers with some help from rock veterans the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Mars' Motown style went well with the Chili Peppers' energetic spice.


14. Coldplay, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars (2016)

Bruno Mars and Coldplay did their best to keep up. But everyone at home was shouting for less of them and more Beyoncé. Her fierce performance of "Formation" blew the rest of the show out of the water, though not without controversy. Some viewers at home took umbrage with the outfits of the backup dancers, which resembled the uniforms of the Black Panthers.


13. Madonna (2012)

Madonna was a stunning lead, with a stage dripping in ancient Roman excess. Roman soldier dancers accompanied her larger-than-life persona. Guest artists LMFAO, Nicki Minaj, and M.I.A also joined in, and M.I.A stirred up plenty of controversy for a brief flash of her middle finger. Madonna still stole the show, however, and her duet of "Like a Prayer" with CeeLo Green incorporated hip-hop, pop, and classic rock to captivate the audience.


12. Paul McCartney (2005)

After the "Nipplegate" debacle from the year prior, the Super Bowl went with the extra family-friendly styles of Sir Paul McCartney - and he offered a much-needed breath of fresh air. A lighthearted tone was set with "Drive My Car" as McCartney performed on an X-shaped stage drenched in intricate patterns projected from above. The exclamation point on the performance was "Hey Jude" with the whole stadium singing along.


11. Janet Jackson & Justin Timberlake (2004)

When considering iconic Super Bowl halftime shows, it's impossible not to think about Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake's controversial performance. The high-energy show was full of hit songs and dazzling dance moves, but of course, all of it was overshadowed by the final split second, where Timberlake ripped off Jackson's breastplate. Later, the performers would say that there was supposed to be a red garment underneath, but instead, the whole world got an eyeful of Jackson's exposed breast, the nipple partially obscured by a metallic pastie.


10. The Rolling Stones (2006)

Adam Levine claimed to have moves like Jagger in his lackluster Super Bowl LIII Halftime show, but Mick proved in 2006 that no one else can even come close. The Stones rocked through hits like "Satisfaction" and "Start Me Up," and as Jagger sauntered across the tongue-shaped stage, he proved that age is nothing but a number.

9. Lady Gaga (2017)

Gaga commenced the show by singing on the stadium roof. Then she leaped off to the stage down below. The death-defying stunt turned out to be prerecorded. Nevertheless, it became an instant meme and the standout of her performance.


8. Shakira and Jennifer Lopez (2020)

Shakira kicked off the electrifying celebration of Latina power by tearing through her hits - she even played the drums and guitar. Then J. Lo took the stage with a pole-dancing routine that made jaws hit the floor. The two came together for the powerful finale of "Born in the USA."

7. Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band (2009)

Classic rock fans rejoiced when Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band brought the house down with their charismatic showmanship. The band proved their staying power with an easy chemistry as they played hits like "Glory Days" and "Born to Run." Springsteen even busted out his infamous "crotch-slide" into the camera.

6. Beyoncé (2013)

Beyoncé had hearts pounding with her magnetic performance in 2013. She hit the stage and dove right into her hit songs "Love on Top" and "Crazy in Love." Then Michelle Williams and Kelly Rowland rocketed onstage for a surprise Destiny's Child reunion that sent the audience into the stratosphere. Beyoncé finished it off solo with an emotional performance of "Halo."

5. Michael Jackson (1993)

Michael Jackson proved he was the King of Pop with his entrance. He began the show by simply standing there silently, basking in the roar of the crowd, for two whole minutes, a soft and appreciative smile on his face. Then he delivered on the hype with hits like "Billie Jean" and "Jam." He also injected plenty of sentimentality into the performance: the show closed with him singing "Heal the World" alongside a chorus of children from across the globe.

4. Aerosmith, Britney Spears, 'NSync, Nelly & Mary J. Blige (2001)

For Super Bowl XXXV, should we do classic rock, pop, or hip-hop? Yes. The 2001 Super Bowl lineup read like a music festival. Aerosmith, Britney Spears, 'NSync, Nelly, and Mary J. Blige all came together to create an audacious, dynamic and fun blend of genres. Seeing Britney, Nelly and Blige join Aerosmith for a one-of-a-kind rendition of "Walk This Way" embodied the colorful spirit of pop culture in the early aughts.


3. Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, Mary J. Blige, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem (2022)

2022's Halftime Show was more than just a performance - it was a trip through hip-hop history. From Snoop and Dre's "California Love" to Kendrick Lamar's "Alright" to Eminem's "Lose Yourself," the show was an ode to the genre's enduring impact.

2. U2 (2002)

This emotionally charged tribute to the victims of 9/11 opened with "Beautiful Day," setting the tone for a show about strength and hope in the face of tragedy. The show's climax struck with "Where the Streets Have No Name" and the names of the victims scrolled across the backdrop. By the time Bono revealed the American flag tucked inside his jacket, there wasn't dry eye in the stadium — or anywhere in the USA.


1. Prince (2007)

Prince's 2007 halftime show is widely regarded as the greatest of all time - and for good reason. He managed to create a show that was at once otherworldly and deeply human. Backlighting cast a towering shadow of his signature purple guitar across the field as played hits like "Let's Go Crazy" and "All Along the Watchtower." But his final song, "Purple Rain," which began just as the skies opened up, felt like Mother Nature herself was giving her nod of approval.

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