The Greatest Super Bowl Half-Time Performances of All-Time

There are two types of Super Bowl fans. The first type watches it for the game. The second comes just for the spectacle and the grandeur, with the football falling into second place. Usually, this involves the majesty and pageantry of the half-time performance.

Every year seems to throw up a memorable half-time act, from gravity-defying stages to collaborations you never knew you wanted. Below, we discuss our pick of the three best Super Bowl half-time performances.

Prince, 2007

When the Super Bowl arrives, the eyes of the world turn to the US. Even those who don’t normally follow the NFL will tune in, with prices for sponsorship, advertising, and the Super Bowl betting going through the roof. Yet you don’t just have to bet on the outcome of the game. When placing a bet, wagering on the Super Bowl can provide lots of options, usually through betting on statistics. Statistics are something the superstar Prince has clocked up a lot of, be it hit records or the sheer volume of songs he wrote for other people. Thus, it makes sense that he would command a Super Bowl half-time show at some point. 

Oddly, this one came quite late in his career, long after his eighties heyday and his difficult legal period in the nineties. His set was a mix of surprise covers, including the Foo Fighters, and his own hits like Let’s Go Crazy. However, the real highlight was when a Miami thunderstorm hit, covering the singer as he belted out Purple Rain. The performance was only mythologised further as he refused to allow anyone to post the video online.

Michael Jackson, 1993

1992 was one of the worst halftime shows imaginable, a droll winter parade. Thus, the following year needed a superstar to bring it back to life and in 1993, no one was bigger than Michael Jackson. 
Fresh from his Dangerous album, he started the set by standing still for a minute and a half. The Billie Jean bassline kicked in and the eager crowd went wild. His trademark dance moves came into action, and he even brought a huge choir onto the stage. Another highlight was Black and White, in what was probably to be his last great public performance. 

U2, 2002

U2 had the difficult task of playing the first Super Bowl after the events of September 2001. Yet it was a gig only they could have taken. The whole performance was a tribute to those who had been lost, with names scrolling on a screen behind them. Where the Streets Have No Name took on a whole new meaning, as Bono did what only he could on a heart-shaped stage. 
Although prone to elaborate stages, this is one where the band got it just right. Bono opened his shirt to reveal the American flag on his chest, while Paul McCartney came on for a guest spot. A fitting tribute conducted with style, charisma, and empathy. 

There have been plenty of others, from Beyoncé to Paul McCartney. Check out some of the archives and YouTube videos. You may just find your favourite performance of all time.

About the author

There’s a lot of music out there - good music. At Essentially Pop our remit is that we cover music that deserves to be heard, with a particular focus on independent artists. That doesn't mean we won't cover your old favourites - rather we hope to give you some new favourites as well.

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