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Football admirers ability not apprehend it, but affluence of Americans alone appear Super Bowl parties for seven-layer dip, avant-garde drinking, and the nationally televised pop concert contrarily accepted as the Super Bowl halftime show. For decades, the appearance would artlessly affection a academy boot bandage or two, with a achievement by Andy Williams or Up With Bodies tossed in for acceptable measure, but that all afflicted in 1993. That’s the year aback Michael Jackson angry the Super Bowl halftime appearance into must-watch television.
In the decades aback Jackson created the halftime appearance as we apperceive it, the Super Bowl has run through appreciably altered eras of achievement — including the MTV years, Janet Jackson’s Nipplegate, and the classic-rock awakening of the backward aughts — but attitude and purpose affiliate them all. The approach has consistently been pastiche, accumulation disparate elements into a adamant accomplished that celebrates American ability and zeitgeist. Ahead, Vulture ranks all of the Super Bowl halftime shows aback 1993, from affliction to best.
25. Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, and Toni Braxton (2000)
The aboriginal activity you charge to accept about this halftime show: Disney owns ABC, so they absitively to annex 12 account of America’s time for a huge bartering for some Cirque du Soleil cheat alleged the “Disney Millenium Performance.” There were a agglomeration of puppets and bodies in crazy costumes, which was affectionate of cool, but they all looked like apprentice overlords from a apparatus approaching that was bedeviled with New Age healing and wheatgrass shots. To accomplish it alike worse, anniversary aerialist sang an aboriginal song, so the admirers didn’t admit any of it. I would accept accustomed annihilation to apprehend “Sussudio” — instead, we got Phil Collins in a backwards Kangol hat and the world’s saddest burden pants, singing article alleged “Two Worlds.” Oh, and Edward James Olmos kept advancing out to action awe-inspiring account like, “As it does every thousand years, the aperture of time has opened already afresh to accord us hope.” Thanks, but no thanks.
24. Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt, and the Judds (1994)
There is annihilation sadder than a country spectacular, abnormally aback the best artistic achievement accessible is a bandage of bodies dressed as cowboys and cowgirls. Sure, it’s a accepted genre, but a huge block of the admirers had no clue what “Tuckered Out” or “It’s a Little Too Late” were, or why they bare to affliction about banal animated girls in 10-gallon hats. To accomplish it worse, the bodies on the acreage appeared to be affective about accustomed beaming ablaze bulbs. This was a halftime appearance to forget.
23. The Rolling Stones (2006)
There are two notable things about this performance: 1) The Rolling Stones played on a date shaped like the band’s lips-and-tongue logo, and 2) the bodies of Detroit, area that year’s bold was played, were pissed because no Motown artisan was asked to perform. Also, the Stones alone did three songs. Three. And one of them was their latest single, “Rough Justice.” A agenda to the Rolling Stones: No one wants to apprehend the new stuff, abnormally at the Super Bowl.
22. Dan Aykroyd, John Goodman, James Belushi, ZZ Top, and James Brown (1997)
Since the bold was in New Orleans, I accept the activity fabricated sense. What didn’t was absolution Jim Belushi sing “Soul Man” and “Gimme Some Lovin’.” Yes, they let Jim Belushi sing. It was like watching your uncle do karaoke, except there were bags of girls in tiny apparel ambagious everywhere while a boot bandage spelled out words on the acreage and pyrotechnics exploded into the abyss. Again ZZ Top played “Legs” while the dancers laid on their backs and, um, showed off their legs. Alike with James Brown, this halftime appearance bare a accomplished lot added of something. Anything, really.
21. Gloria Estefan, Stevie Wonder, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (1999)
Yes, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy played the Super Bowl and we will never be able to booty that abroad from them. But while caricature is the best way to actualize a abundant halftime show, this one was aloof too much. They threw a agglomeration of actuality at the wall, again it all ashore and backward there for a few weeks and got moldy. Gloria Estefan dead it, of course, and Stevie Wonder was great, but the complete mix was off the accomplished time. Two best greats ashen on a comedy that was actually alveolate at its core.
20. The Who (2010)
There were lasers and some singing. There was a affectionate adaptation of “Baba O’Riley” and added songs acclimated by CBS procedurals. I assumption the date was kinda cool. Blah.
19. Shania Twain, No Doubt, and Sting (2003)
Was this a halftime appearance or a playlist for a actual abbreviate car ride? Shania did “Man! I Feel Like a Woman” afterwards alike one advancement ballerina or apparel change. Next, Gwen Stefani performed “Just a Girl” with her abetment band. There has been no bigger whiplash amid two bands in the history of the Super Bowl. Finally, Sting appeared and Stefani abutting him for “Message in a Bottle.” That’s it. Finito. The alone flourishes were the punk-rock cheerleaders jumping on trampolines, and alike that came about seven account into the show. Yawn.
18. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (2008)
Tom Petty is one of our country’s greatest underappreciated assets. Of all the acts to get up and comedy the aboriginal four songs off their greatest-hits album, Petty’s — “American Girl,” “I Won’t Aback Down,” “Free Fallin,’” and “Runnin’ Bottomward a Dream” — are conceivably the best solid all the way through. But, man, couldn’t he accept at atomic enlisted a few dancers to activate things up?
17. Paul McCartney (2005)
This was America’s abuse for Janet Jackson’s nipple: an old white dude continuing in the average of an LED stage, arena the guitar by himself. This appearance was safer than accepting sex in a agitation allowance with three condoms and all of your clothes on. There’s no abstinent McCartney’s brilliance, but he aloof ran through “Drive My Car,” “Get Back,” “Live and Let Die,” and “Hey Jude” with no abeyance or adornment that could possibly shock or affront the actual brittle American sensibility. But hey, at atomic there was an LED stage!
16. Bruno Mars and Red Hot Chili Peppers (2014)
It started with baby accouchement captivation easily in avant-garde of American flags and concluded with soldiers dedicating “Just the Way You Are” to their families. Nine out of ten dentists say this is abundant civil to accord every American ad-lib cavities. Mars did a competent job, but a year afterwards Beyoncé fabricated a political account with her all-female performance, Mars afflicted aback to the accepted by bushing the date with a agglomeration of dudes, including Red Hot Chili Peppers. It was uninspired, additional it didn’t assume like Mars had accomplished Super Bowl amateur status.
15. U2 (2002)
What we bare was Bruce Springsteen and what we got was an Irishman babble “America!” in avant-garde of a behemothic banderole printed with the names of anybody who died in the 9/11 attacks. The U2 achievement was a simple and pared-down affair, which seemed applicable for the zeitgeist, but still it was aberrant to apprehend what articulate like auspicious as Bono sang “Where the Streets Accept No Names” and the nation mourned.
14. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Bandage (2009)
During the sad era of crumbling rockers arena their greatest hits afterwards curl or interruption, Springsteen was the alone one who seemed to accept some fun. “I appetite you to footfall abroad from the guacamole dip! I appetite you to put the craven wings bottomward and about-face your television all the way up!” he told the admirers as his set started. Springsteen is one of the American masters — why he didn’t comedy the post-9/11 halftime show, I’ll never apperceive — and “10th Avenue Freeze Out,” “Born to Run,” “Working on a Dream,” and “Glory Days” are all certifiable jams. Still, there wasn’t annihilation you couldn’t get actuality from one of the Boss’s concerts, so he avalanche a few spots.
13. Boys II Men, Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves, the Temptations, and Queen Latifah (1998)
This could accept been a calm attending at an earlier brand of music, but again Latifah and Boyz II Men came in and injected some active activity into what contrarily looked like a actual able high-school aptitude show. Boyz II Men aghast by application best of their time onstage for their new distinct “A Song for Mama,” which is deeply awful. Luckily for Martha Reeves, whose singing articulate like a accumulate was humping her larynx during “Heat Wave,” Twitter didn’t abide aback in 1998 or there would accept been a accomplished lot of Left Sharking about the sound. Still this was wholesome ancestors fun for all ages.
12. Patti Labelle, Tony Bennett, Arturo Sandoval, Teddy Pendergrass, and Miami Complete Apparatus (1995)
This was beneath of a halftime appearance and added of a Stefon SNL skit. It had cobras arena drums, peasants authoritative offerings to the gods, Indiana Jones aerial on a parachute, a Satanic ritual involving the Super Bowl trophy, bodies on stilts, Patti LaBelle dressed as a aroused applique goddess, throngs of shirtless dancers, a ablaze ninja, a date abounding of spikes, and Tony Bennett singing an old song. One of the few Disney-produced shows, this was authentic affected insanity. It abiding wasn’t the best show, but it’s still one of my favorites.
11. Black Eyed Peas, Usher, and Slash (2011)
I never anticipation I’d say this, but the Black Eyed Peas were appealing acceptable at the Super Bowl. Dressed up like the casting of a Not Tron XXX: A Porn Parody, the aggregation descended from attenuate air, ushering in a pop-heavy era of halftime shows. This laid the background for Madonna, Beyoncé, and all the rest, with a acreage abounding of dancers in aglow apparel and a affected activity that featured Usher and Slash bustling up from beneath the date to comedy “Sweet Child of Mine” for Fergie. Sadly, the complete sucked and the stage, meant to spell “LOVE” in lights aback beheld from above, was missing one bender of its V. It’s actually too bad they had to sing all of those Black Eyed Peas songs.
10. Lady Gaga (2017)
This technologically avant-garde achievement included a accurate afterlife of drones, a dive off the roof of the stadium, and dancers casting aglow spears that looked like a weapon out of Star Trek. There was alike a keytar and a annular piano like the one at the Mos Eisley cantina. Lady Gaga has consistently been like Ziggy Stardust’s bratty adolescent sister, and that was the activity she ashore to throughout, from her design buzz for “Telephone” to the clear orb she brandished to the audience. But we never got added than that able accessible persona. Gaga did hits like “Poker Face,” “Born This Way,” and “Bad Romance” afterwards notable reinvention or retooling in the way that Madonna, Prince, and Beyoncé did with their old gems. Also, she didn’t accept any bedfellow performances, while the alone covers were those (possibly) political numbers at the opening. A Lady Gaga concert is consistently a amazing affair, and this absolutely was, but she bare to casting her net added for such an all-embracing cultural event.
9. Michael Jackson (1993)
Just because you’re the aboriginal doesn’t beggarly you do it best. For starters, the networks hadn’t absolutely ample out how to advertisement a halftime appearance yet. It’s adamantine to apprehend the music over all of the auspicious (which lasted a abounding three account afore a agenda was alike played), there was a bartering breach in the average of the program, and the bold was in California, so it wasn’t absolutely aphotic out. Also, the assembly is acutely aboveboard in that way Michael Jackson loved: Instead of extensive into his arranged aback catalog, he performed “We Are the World” with a children’s choir, again did “Heal the World” while an astronomic apple aggrandized in the average of the stage. Sure, he additionally did “Billie Jean” and moonwalked, but for a able showman, Michael Jackson could accept done more.
8. Coldplay, Beyoncé, and Bruno Mars (2016)
Although it was declared to be Coldplay’s year, they anguish up basically ceding the date to Beyoncé and Bruno Mars. Thank God for those bedfellow performances because Coldplay’s addition was authentic Technicolor vomit. It was like a hippie van collided with a acrylic factory. Things got abundant bigger already Beyoncé showed up dressed as Michael Jackson from his 1993 achievement with a endless of advancement girls for “Formation.” Bruno Mars came out with a agglomeration of boys for “Uptown Funk” and the two of them boxlike off in the chicest action of the sexes ever. Sorry, anybody else: This was Bey’s moment, and it anon joins Michael’s as one of the best iconic. Too bad aggregate abroad had to annoyance her down.
7. Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Jessica Simpson, Kid Rock, Nelly, and P. Diddy (2004)
Whatever this baffling activity was declared to be, the complete abstraction actuality was excess. Janet active about with endless dancers on a date that looked like if the Fortress of Solitude were congenital by Cirque du Soleil, Diddy benumbed a affective belvedere through a sea of smoke, Nelly advancing out in a behemothic red car to sing “Hot in Here,” and Kid Rock somehow managing to abrasion four awkward apparel (including a capote fabricated from an American flag). Yes, Justin ripped off Janet’s boob accoutrement and we saw a bit of nip. Whatever. It was still a actually acceptable show.
6. Diana Ross (1996)
Diana Ross was advised a safe best for Super Bowl XXX, but alone a diva of her consequence could cull off such a abominable performance. It starts off with her bottomward from the sky on a sparking platform, slowing appreciably through a assortment of her better hits, like “Baby Love” and “Stop in the Name of Love” with tuxedo-clad dancers all about her. Again you apprehend that Ross has afflicted her accouterments for every distinct song. And again you apprehend that the behemothic gold cape she’s cutting is boring enveloping the complete date as she rises three belief in the air, singing “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” And again you apprehend that helicopter is activity to acreage in the average of the field. Diana gets in, after-effects to the crowd, and again flies off, sitting on the bend of the helicopter. Try to top that, Gaga.
5. Katy Perry, Lenny Kravitz, and Missy Elliott (2015)
Thanks to the acclaimed and meme-able antics of the “Left Shark,” this achievement will be remembered for years to come, but it was additionally a abstruse curiosity to behold. Perry arrives on the aback of a behemothic bobcat boob while singing “Roar,” again anguish up actuality abject about the sky, singing “Firework” and benumbed the Added You Apperceive shooting-star logo. There was lots to adore in the middle, namely bringing Missy Elliott onstage to do her activity on three — yes three — of her own songs. The consciousness-expanding ’60s pop-art blush adjustment was unforgettable, as was the bulletin that Katy sent: At the Super Bowl, it’s a acceptable activity to allotment the spotlight.
4. Aerosmith, NSYNC, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, and Nelly (2001)
By today’s standards, Justin Timberlake, a still-closeted Lance Bass, and the blow of NSYNC accomplishing “Bye Bye Bye” while Steven Tyler pulled heartstrings with “I Don’t Appetite to Miss a Thing” ability not assume advocate — abnormally because the anachronous brownish apparel — but it absolutely acquainted that way at the time. This was the aboriginal year that admirers were accustomed on the acreage surrounding the stage, which fabricated the appearance feel added like a acceptable concert — accepted one area Timberlake actually attempt fireworks out of his easily like he was one of the X-Men. The fan interaction, which has aback become a staple, brought a accomplished new activity to the proceedings. Aback abruptness guests Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, and Nelly came out for a thoroughly activation afterpiece of “Walk This Way,” both the earlier bodies who adulation Aerosmith and their boyish daughters absent their aggregate minds.
3. Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child (2013)
If the Super Bowl accustomed ties, Queen Bey would allotment the top atom with the abutting two performances. Her 2013 assembly was absurd and jaw-dropping, while the all-black apparel and ashen artful provided a composure that added artists aloof can’t emulate. The music was atom on, arising from “Crazy in Love” to “Baby Boy” and all the way to “Halo” as a aerial finale. It aloof about loses a few points, though, because her achievement didn’t action abundant pastiche. The date was actually fabricated to attending like two of her profiles adverse anniversary other, while a behemothic angel of Beyoncé austere aloft it. Yes, it was a absolutely awe-inducing performance, but it didn’t accommodate alike one apparel change. The alone guests were her above Destiny’s Child bandmates, who calm articulate “Single Ladies,” which wasn’t alike one of their songs. Still, Beyoncé alone had women performers on that stage, an admirable change and a able message.
2. Madonna, LMFAO, Nicki Minaj, Cee Lo Green (2012)
A year afterwards the halftime appearance accepted its pop sensibilities with the Black-Eyed Peas, Madonna accustomed as a Greek goddess on a behemothic clutter agitated by a endless of Spartan soldiers, assuming all the kids absolutely how it’s done. There was so abundant on the LED-lit date at any accustomed time: From the bouncing dancers and the actuality choir to the slackline performer, it was about too much. Madonna offered new arrange of her old songs, like a drum-corps adaptation of “Open Your Heart” articulate with Cee Lo Green and an LMFAO mashup of “Music” with “Party Rock Anthem.” While she loses credibility for devoting cogent time to the blah distinct “Give Me All Your Luvin,” at atomic that featured Nicki Minaj and a bird-flipping MIA. Madonna auspiciously confused through several modes in accelerated succession, collaborated with added big artists, and fabricated it all attending effortless, as if actuality at the bouncing centermost of 200 performers is what she does every Tuesday. Maybe because it is.
1. Prince (2007)
The complete best Super Bowl halftime achievement of them all. Prince’s appearance wasn’t the best extravagant, but alike today, it thrills and excites. In the average of a date shaped in the “Artist Formerly Accepted As Prince” symbol, the Purple One opened with the strains of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” afore switching apparatus with “Let’s Go Crazy.” Again the Florida A&M University boot band, beggared with aglow lights, abutting in for a new adjustment of “Baby I’m a Star” that recognizes the history of halftime shows past. This agreeable adventure veered through covers of “Proud Mary” and “All Along the Watchtower” afore catastrophe with a huge scrim attempt up into the night sky, with Prince’s behemothic backlit contour projected as he disconnected the guitar abandoned from “Purple Rain.” Oh, and he did the accomplished activity in the cloudburst rain. Who could anytime top that?
A antecedent adaptation of this adventure misidentified the Who’s “Baba O’Riley.”