Take a look back at some of the best Super Bowl performances ever.

By Charlotte Carroll
February 03, 2019

Besides the food spreads and classic commercials, one of the great non-football Super Bowl traditions is the halftime show.

Rockstars, popstars and music legends have graced the pop-up stages to perform a collection of hits for millions of fans across the country. 

But before Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga or the Boss appeared on stage, there were marching bands, drill teams and other acts based around a theme. It was in 1991 that the first pop act—New Kids on the Block—appeared. 

Since then, the performance has become a coveted spot that links football to greater pop culture. 

This year as the Patriots take on the Rams, Maroon 5, Travis Scott and Big Boi will take the stage. 

So while waiting to see if the choice was worth it, here’s a look back at some of the best Super Bowl performances ever: 

Super Bowl XXVII: Michael Jackson

The king of pop performed a medley of hits, including "Billie Jean," "Black or White" and "Jam." The act set the stage for bigger stars in the future and set the focus on the Halftime show.

Super Bowl XXXV: Aerosmith, NSYNC, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, Nelly

Viewers got the pop, rock and hip hop combination perfect for the new millenium with these performers. From songs of "Bye Bye Bye" and "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing," Spears and Blige appeared to make this MTV produced show extra memorable. It was also Justin Timberlake's first Super Bowl Halftime appearance.

Super Bowl XXXVI: U2

U2 gave one of the best Super Bowl performances months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The Irish band paid tribute to the victims and Americans using hits "Beautiful Day," "MLK" and "Where the Streets Have No Name." The band had the victims’ names scrolling down a backdrop, and Bono revealed an American flag inspired jacket lining at the end of the show.

Super Bowl XXXVIII: Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake

Jessica Simpson, P. Diddy, Nelly and Kid Rock were also performers at Super Bowl XXXVIII, but it was Jackson and Timberlake who stole the show thanks to the infamous "wardrobe malfunction." Timberlake, whether intentional or not, ripped off part of Janet's outfit to reveal her bare breast at the end of "Rock Your Body." The incident led to a delay in live broadcasts, fines and more. 

Super Bowl XXXIX: Paul McCartney

The former Beatle ushered in a new era of Super Bowl performances following the scandal the previous year. McCartney started a trend of rock stars from older generations headlining the act. But he didn't disappoint, singing classics "Drive My Car" and "Hey Jude."

Super Bowl XL: The Rolling Stones

The Stones 

Super Bowl XLI: Prince

In the pouring rain, Prince delivered an iconic performance that is one of the best shows ever. He covered "Along the Watchtower" and "Proud Mary" along with his own songs. He ended the show with the weather appropriate "Purple Rain" to put on a classic show. 

Super Bowl XLIII: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

The Boss commanded us to step away from the guac and put the chicken fingers down, and what a good decision that was. Springsteen performed only four songs, but it was a masterful display of rock and roll. He even slid across the stage on his knees, running into a cameraman.

Super Bowl XLVII: Beyonce, Destiny's Child

Beyonce brought out all her current and past hits, including "Run the World (Girls)," "Love on Top" and "Crazy in Love." Destiny's Child members Kelley Rowland Michelle Williams joined the show to reunite for "Bootylicious" and more. 

Super Bowl XLVIII: Bruno Mars, Red Hot Chili Peppers

Mars went with "Locked Out of Heaven," "Runaway Baby" and "Just the Way You Are."

Super Bowl XLIX: Katy Perry

Left Shark, anyone? While Perry was accompanied by Missy Elliot, the real breakout star of the show was the viral sensation, Left Shark. Why? Only the internet can explain. But the performance included a medley of hits such as "Teenage Dream" and "California Gurls."

Super Bowl 50: Coldplay, Beyonce, Bruno Mars

While Coldplay was the headliner, the biggest star of this performance was Beyonce — as she is in every show she performs in. Beyonce and Mars joined Coldplay onstage and performers of Super Bowls past were honored as part of the Super Bowl 50 celebrations. Beyonce garnered criticism for performing the song "Formation," which was deemed too political.

Super Bowl LI: Lady Gaga

Gaga opened with by jumping from the roof to the stage, creating one of the most memorable entrances ever. Lady Gaga sang hits including, "Poker Face," "Born This Way" and "Just Dance" to give a show on how to put on a proper pop performance.

Ultimate Mention: Whitney Houston's National Anthem Performance at Super Bowl XXV

While this isn't a halftime show, Houston's rendition of the national anthem was hands down the best thing ever performed at a Super Bowl. For that, we need to honor the legend and add to this list.

Tune into Super Bowl LIII on Sunday, Feb. 3 to see if Maroon 5, Travis Scott and Big Boi can be added to this illustrious list.

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