Beyonce featured in our best halftime shows in NFL Super Bowl history

Best Halftime Shows: The Top Performances Through The Years

I know I’m not alone when I say that I’m anxiously awaiting Rihanna’s return to the stage for the Super Bowl 57 halftime show. Musically, Rihanna has been MIA for five years, which adds to my excitement. Think about it, she has everything it takes to make a memorable show – the vocals, the tunes, the looks and the mystery of where she’s been and what she has up her sleeve. My friends call me dramatic, but this is easily the most eager I’ve been for a halftime show, so much so that I keep forgetting there’s a football game to watch, too. But could this year’s show top the best in NFL history? 

Last year, Eminem and other R&B legends attracted over 100 million viewers – so I don’t care whether you admit it or not, you are just as invested in this as I am! As we know, the league doesn’t cheap out on getting the cream of the crop in the music world to perform. Over the years, there’s been a list of legends like Michael Jackson, Prince, Madonna and Beyonce belting out their best. Let’s take a walk down memory lane to remember the top halftime shows in the Super Bowl archives.

Calling all Super Bowl Sunday viewers, interested in betting on Rihanna’s performance? Check out our Super Bowl 57 halftime show props to see all the fun to wager on!

Super Bowl 27: Michael Jackson (1993)

Truthfully, I wasn’t even alive when the King of Pop took the Super Bowl stage. In fact, I was six years away from being born (sorry to age you). But I’m not too young to know Michael Jackson’s imprint on the music industry – plus, Google exists and I’ve seen the videos from the halftime production. The melody of “Jam”, “Billie Jean” and “Black or White” worked so well and he made sure to open a topic of social justice conversation by featuring “We Are The World.” The crowd flipped over hundreds of children’s drawings before Jackson was joined on stage by thousands of children.

The NFL knew exactly what it was doing by asking Jackson to sing. No offense to the previous performers, but MJ was the first notable artist to take the stage and invent what the halftime show is to this day. 

Super Bowl 50: Coldplay (2016)

Coldplay did a lot of things right at Super Bowl 50. First of all, their alt-rock genre is a hit with music lovers across the globe. Whether it was ballads like “Yellow” or catchy rhythms like “Viva la Vida,” Chris Martin sang a discography of songs that even had your grandma saying, “Wait, I think I know this one.” But that wasn’t the highlight of the halftime set. Bruno Mars and Beyonce joined Coldplay on the stage, absolutely hijacking the show. Bruno Mars brought “Uptown Funk” and Beyonce followed with “Formation,” but they both brought a dance battle to add a little spice to the performance. You have to respect a band that shares the spotlight on one of the biggest stages.

Over the years, the band has emerged with a Technicolor vibe. Unless you’re anti-social media, you’ve probably seen their stadium tour plastered all over your feeds with show-stopping lighting production that is actually energized by kinetic dance floors under the crowd. Just over the last two years, Coldplay’s fan base has grown. I’d love to see them perform again under their new persona.

Super Bowl 56: Dr. Dre & Friends (2022)

The NFL gave us a treat by hosting the most talented R&B and hip-hop legends under one roof. It was Dr. Dre joined by Eminem, Mary J. Blige, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar and 50 Cent – can it get any better than that? If Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” doesn’t get you pumped up, then I don’t know what does! It really marked the first time a halftime show showcased the hip-hop genre and hopefully it won’t be the last. 

It was the first of its kind and enough to win an Emmy for Outstanding Variety Special (Live), the first time a Super Bowl performance has won the category. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if one of those names joins Rihanna this year – she does have a couple of songs with Eminem.

Super Bowl 51: Lady Gaga (2017)

Speaking of funky personalities, the bar was set high for Lady Gaga too. She’s been known to wear meat dresses on red carpets and pour blood over herself on stage, though I’m sure the league was responsible for restricting her outfit and production ideas while prepping for halftime. But, Gaga was energetic, the dancing was on point and she was literally suspended from the ceiling while doing a couple of flips here and there. That night in Houston was an epic one and it entertained enough to be the second-most viewed show with just over 117 million watching.

Super Bowl 47: Beyonce (2013)

Before Beyonce was stealing the show when Coldplay was playing, she was headlining her own performance. Instead, she stole the show from the San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Ravens by pumping up the crowd with “Single Ladies” and “Crazy In Love.” Beyonce has and still embodies female empowerment, so it wasn’t a shock when she was joined on stage by female dancers and her all-female band. Perhaps the most memorable point of the show was when Queen Bey’s former Destiny’s Child members shot up from the stage in a much-needed reunion. The performance was so renowned that it was rumored to be responsible for the power outage that shut down Caesars Superdome. 

She is a music mogul – I mean, she now holds the record with 32 Grammys. I honestly think Beyonce could perform every year and no one would complain.

Super Bowl 49: Katy Perry (2015)

Whether you classify yourself as a fan or not, we’ve all caught ourselves singing a Katy Perry tune that always seems to be on a loop across our local radio stations. Heading into Glendale, we all knew Perry’s funky personality wouldn’t disappoint – and we were right. Super Bowl 49 saw a bright, playful performance filled with bubbly costumes, ginormous animatronics (she rode a massive gold lion in true Katy fashion) and those iconic dancers – I’m talking about you, Mr. Left Shark. 

The show recorded about 118.5 million viewers, the most in history – enough said.

Super Bowl 36: U2 (2002)

Opening up with the iconic “Beautiful Day,” U2’s performance was a flawless mixture of musical genius and a touching tribute. Super Bowl 36 was played just a few months after the tragic events of September 11, 2001. Bono and his crew made sure to honor the victims, performing on a heart-shaped stage and displaying the names of all those lost across the backdrop during “Where The Streets Have No Name.”

Bono’s vocals are enough to leave goosebumps on your skin. The Irish band’s performance was emotional, uplifting and perfectly executed. 

Back to Top