The 20 Best Super Bowl Halftime Shows of All Time

These performances were legendary.

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Whenever a new NFL season starts, there is always one question that isn’t necessarily football-related: Who will be this year's Super Bowl halftime entertainment? For 2024, the halftime entertainment is a man by the name of Usher (check out a definitive ranking of his albums and best songs here and here). In the earlier years of the event, the Super Bowl halftime shows would mostly feature college marching bands playing during the break, which was...kinda boring if we're keep it honest. No disrespect to the college marching bands because they do a great job, but the Super Bowl is a major event that in turn deserves a major halftime performance from a major artist. The trend of mostly having a college band perform changed in the year 1993 when a man named Michael Jackson (surprise, surprise) revolutionized the Halftime Show by basically bringing a shortened version of his Dangerous World Tour (popping out of the stage and all) to the NFL event. From there, the NFL instead began continuing to utilize artists as their live entertainment choice for halftime segments. Today we'll be taking a look at the best Super Bowl Halftime shows of all time and ranking them.

That said, Super Bowl performances have always been a solid trade-off for both parties. The NFL gets one of the hottest acts in music, and the artist benefits by being able to officially put that halftime stamp on their iconic resume's. This year it's Usher, last year it was Rihanna, and previous years have included Janet Jackson, Prince, Beyoncé, Madonna, and more. Let's take a look shall we?

RELATED: Which NFL Team Has the Most Super Bowl Wins?

20. The Blues Brothers, James Brown and ZZ Top

Super Bowl XXXI

19. The Black Eyed Peas, Slash and Usher

Super Bowl XLV

18. Aerosmith, Britney Spears, Nelly, Mary J. Blige, and *NSYNC

Super Bowl XXXV

17. Motown Tribute

Super Bowl XXXII

16. Justin Timberlake

Super Bowl LII

15. Katy Perry, Lenny Kravitz, Missy Elliott

Super Bowl XLIX

14. Lady Gaga

Super Bowl LI

13. Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers

Super Bowl XLVIII

12. Paul McCartney

Super Bowl XXXIX

11. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

Super Bowl XLIII

10. Madonna

Super Bowl XLVI

9. Coldplay, Beyonce and Bruno Mars

Super Bowl 50

8. U2

Super Bowl XXXVI

7. Diana Ross

Super Bowl XXX

6. Janet Jackson

Super Bowl XXXVIII

5. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Super Bowl XLII

4. Rihanna

Super Bowl LVII

3. Beyoncé

Super Bowl XLVII

2. Prince

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Super Bowl XLI

  • The game: Kansas City Chiefs vs Philadelphia Eagles
  • Standout Moment:

The video doesn't fully capture just how epic Prince performing "Purple Rain" in the rain was, so we're using a picture. The legend that is Prince Rogers-Nelson left us all speechless in 2007 when he delivered a flawless medley of his greatest hits during Super Bowl XLI. Backed by a marching band, Prince immediately got the crowd out of their seats with ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ and ‘Baby I’m A Star.’ He then launched into his own rendition of songs from artists including Bob Dylan’s ‘All Along The Watchtower’ and Foo Fighters ‘The Best of Me.’

Then the unthinkable happened.

It started to rain while Prince was performing his signature ballad "Purple Rain"— literally "Purple Rain" in the rain. Many believe Prince’s guitar solo that night was his personal best, and after being on hiatus for most of the 2000s, it was good to see Prince back in action. Also, the NFL really needs to upload the performance to their official YouTube.

1. Michael Jackson

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Super Bowl XXVII

  • The game: Kansas City Chiefs vs Philadelphia Eagles
  • Standout Moment:

NFL— y'all got get it together because you don't have two of your best performances available on your official channel. Major question marks. Anyway, like always, Michael Jackson is actually the artist credited for revolutionizing and taking the NFL halftime show to the next level. Delivering a mini-concert version of his Dangerous Tour, MJ started off the performance using a special stage toaster to ‘pop’ his way onto the stage and whipped his way into a medley that included ‘Jam,’ ‘Billie Jean’ and ‘Heal The World.’ A balance between the old school joints and newbies, Jackson changed the landscape of halftime shows with this one. Just how much did he change the landscape?

Other than the iconic performance aspect, Michael's show drew in 133 million in pure viewership during an era with no internet, no Instagram, no TikTok, no Twitter, no YouTube—none of that. You had to tune in and watch it live, and the amount of people that tuned in made it one of the most-watched live events in American history.

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