The Best Super Bowl Halftime Performances Ever, Ranked

The appealing combination of an exciting sporting event, entertaining commercials and, of course, unforgettable musical performances make the Super Bowl the most high-rated television program of the year.

While waiting for this year’s recently announced halftime performance (expect Beyoncé and Coldplay to rock your world after Lady Gaga sings the national anthem), we revisit past acts and rank our most favorite halftime shows to date.

14. The Who (2010)

Any live performance of “Baba O’Reily” by the band deserves a mention. 

13. Michael Jackson (1993)

The king of pop offered a medley of “Jam,” Billie Jean” and “Black or White,” but, the most emotional part of the show was his rendition of “We Are the World,” starring drawings by the children of Los Angeles.

12. Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson (2004)

Obviously the most talked-about halftime show to date (given a very public “wardrobe malfunction”), Timberlake and Jackson’s performance was complemented by surprise guests Diddy, Kid Rock, Jessica Simpson and Nelly. 

11. Paul McCartney (2005)

A relatively safe choice, albeit a much appreciated one given the caliber of the artist, McCartney wrapped up his set with the crowd favorite “Hey Jude.”

10. *NSYNC, Aerosmith and Britney Spears (2001)

Although Aerosmith’s and *NSYNC’s respective classics kicked off the show on a high note, it was the group performance of “Walk This Way” that truly captured us. Special guests included Mary J. Blige and Nelly.

9. Stevie Wonder and Gloria Estefan (1999)

Uniting two great talents on the stage must result in one of the best halftime shows ever. 

8. Shania Twain, Sting and No Doubt (2003)

Although not the biggest fans of Twain’s set, Gwen Stefani’s and Sting’s “Message in a Bottle” earns the entire show a spot on the list.

7. Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers (2014)

An undoubtedly entertaining performer, Mars impressed us with his dance moves and drum-playing skills. The Red Hot Chili Peppers were a very much valued addition.

6. Rolling Stones (2006)

Possibly one of the best live acts ever, the Rolling Stones performed on a stage built like their signature logo. Fun fact: Following Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction in 2004, the NFL suggested a five-second tape delay in which they censored parts of “Start Me Up” and “Rough Justice.”

5. Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band (2009)

After being asked a few times over the years, the Boss finally agreed to appear on the halftime show in 2009, giving us one of our favorite performances ever.

4. Madonna, LMFA Nicki Minaj, M.I.A. and Cee Lo Green (2012)

Anchored by Madonna’s classics, the 12-minute performance reminded us why the singer shaped the music industry. Our favorite part? “Like a Prayer,” sang with the help of Cee Lo Green. 

3. Beyonce (2013)

Beyoncé is the queen of live acts, putting on shows that require the stamina and strength that only very few performers can claim. The proof resides in this unforgettable halftime show, in which the artist danced and sang her ass off for over 13 minutes and reunited with Destiny’s Child bandmates Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams. All hail Beyoncé.

2. Prince (2007)

Prince performed in the middle of a Miami thunderstorm, giving us a truly memorable set that included a Foo Fighters cover, an epic guitar jam on Purple Rain and more. Take a look for yourself.

1. U2 (2002)

Just five months after 9/11, the U2 Super Bowl halftime show was the most memorable yet. The band’s “Where the Streets Have no Name,” performed as the names of all those perished in the attacks were displayed on a screen behind the band, still gives us chills. Bono finished off by revealing the stars and stripes that decorated the interior of his leather jacket.