Top 10 Super Bowl Halftime Shows

Script written by Nathan Sharp

It's always a big deal to play at the Super Bowl, and these performances proved why these artists are the biggest names in entertainment. From Lady Gaga, to Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, to U2, these are the most incredible performances to ever grace the stage of the annual event. WatchMojo counts down ten Super Bowl halftime shows.

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Script written by Nathan Sharp

Top 10 Super Bowl Halftime Shows

It’s always a big deal to play at the Super Bowl, and these performances proved why these artists are the biggest names in entertainment. Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top Ten Super Bowl Halftime Shows.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the best halftime shows throughout Super Bowl history and ranking them based on their entertainment factors, theatricality, and the performance’s legacy.

#10: Bruno Mars and Red Hot Chili Peppers

“Super Bowl XLVIII” (2014)

Dayum, Bruno Mars knows how to put on a show. He rocked New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium, complete with a kickass drum solo on a moving stage and some amazing dance moves which almost rival Michael Jackson. He was a ball of energy, exuding fun-loving confidence and mad skillz. The only reason this show isn’t higher is because of the random appearance of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Their music clashed with Bruno’s, and it was extremely odd seeing Bruno’s classy R&B-styled band hopping around with shirtless, headbanging men. Regardless, it was energetic, and the overall performance was a fantastic example of an entertaining halftime show.

#9: Lady Gaga

“Super Bowl LI” (2017)

See this right here? This is why the Super Bowl halftime show is so revered. Lady Gaga has always been a theatrical performer, and her dramatic personality is on full display throughout her mesmerizing performance at Super Bowl LI. Gaga’s show was grand entertainment, including her descending from the roof and performing acrobatics, not to mention colored drones forming the shape of the American flag. There was also time for emotion, as Gaga performed “Million Reasons,” complete with a touching hello to her mom and dad. Critics immediately called it one of the best halftime shows ever, and we agree that it is certainly a contender.

#8: Aerosmith & NSYNC feat. Britney Spears, Nelly & Mary J. Blige

“Super Bowl XXXV” (2001)

Well…this was . .. interesting. For one thing, it seems as if the event planners simply pulled the performers’ names out of a hat, because they certainly do not mix well on paper. Luckily, it worked out surprisingly well in practice. It all began with a scripted segment involving Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, and Chris Rock before NSYNC ran to the stage and performed a meticulously choreographed dance number. What followed was a hella odd medley of NSYNC and Aerosmith songs before everyone came together for Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way.” It was obviously meant to pander to different demographics, but damn if it wasn’t entertaining and energetic to the max.

#7: Madonna feat. LMFAO, M.I.A., Nicki Minaj & Cee Lo Green

“Super Bowl XLVI” (2012)

While many people thought that Madonna was past her prime and irrelevant for the Super Bowl halftime show, she certainly showed them all up, delivering one of the most spectacular performances in Bowl history. This show was pure theater – it had Roman soldiers, Madonna riding in on a golden throne, a marching band, a choir, and M.I.A. flipping off the camera (which landed her in a lot of hot water). However, it wasn’t just the spectacle that was on point – Madonna energetically performed some of her most well-known songs and proved to everyone that she can still put on a heck of a show.

#6: U2

“Super Bowl XXXVI” (2002)

This game was played only five months after 9/11, so Americans weren’t exactly in the mood for a rousing, cinematic affair. Luckily, U2 took a more subtle and emotional approach to their Super Bowl appearance. The band performed only three songs, and the names of those lost in the terrorist attacks were projected behind the band during “Where the Streets Have No Name”. To end the show, Bono revealed his American flag-lined jacket to deafening cheers from the audience. It was just what America needed at the time, and it is now rightly regarded as one of the most iconic Super Bowl halftime shows.

#5: Beyoncé

“Super Bowl XLVII” (2013)

Well, if you want the viewers and the spectacle, then there really is no going wrong with Beyoncé. Queen Bey absolutely lit up the Superdome with an energetic and confident performance, complete with a kickass stage design, and sparklers shooting from her guitarist’s axe. (Talk about a show that’s pure fire). But perhaps the best moment came when Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams shot up from the floor to join Beyoncé for “Bootylicious.” Twitter, naturally, went bananas. This one has easily solidified its place with the best of the Super Bowl halftime shows. When it comes to pure class and energy, there’s simply no beating the Queen.

#4: The Rolling Stones

“Super Bowl XL” (2006)

The Stones were going into Super Bowl XL amidst a whirlwind of controversy. Many citizens of Detroit, the host city, believed that The Stones weren’t the right group to accurately portray their musical culture. Not to mention the whole Janet Jackson wardrobe fiasco (which occurred two years earlier) was still a sore spot in general for any potential halftime performer. Luckily, the Stones are always a good pick for a dependable, kickass show. They played on a giant stage made to look like their trademark lips and tongue logo, and rocked the house with some of their most classic tunes. It wasn’t as flashy as Beyoncé or anything, but there’s no going wrong with an kick out the jams performance.

#3: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

“Super Bowl XLIII” (2009)

Springsteen and the Super Bowl seemingly go together like beer and chicken fingers, but Springsteen had continuously turned down the offer to play the halftime show. However, he finally accepted for Super Bowl XLIII, and mister, lemme tell ya, it was well worth the wait. Springsteen immediately commanded the stage by telling viewers to put the chicken fingers DOWN and to turn the volume UP, and he then proceeded to rock the stadium for this entire short set. The Boss, like the Stones, proved that you don’t necessarily need high-budget gimmicks or effects to be memorable. All you need is some timeless music, a lot of swagger, and the confidence to rock in front of hundreds of millions of people.

#2: Michael Jackson

“Super Bowl XXVII” (1993)

The Jacksons have certainly claimed their stake in Super Bowl history, although Janet’s share is probably not what she originally had in mind. Michael, on the other hand, deserves all the acclaim he has garnered over the years for his appropriately legendary performance at Super Bowl XXVII. Jacko was brought in to revitalize waning Super Bowl ratings, and he came through in flashy glory, erupting from the stage (which was followed by almost two minutes of pure crowd pandemonium) and backed up by a choir of 3,500 children. It was an enormous success, greatly influencing future Super Bowl halftime shows. The whole tradition wouldn’t be what it is today if it wasn’t for Michael Jackson.

Before we rock you with our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
Diana Ross
“Super Bowl XXX” (1996)

Paul McCartney
“Super Bowl XXXIX” (2005)

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
“Super Bowl XLII” (2008)

#1: Prince

“Super Bowl XLI” (2007)
Yep, this diminutive purple god set the musical standard for this biggest of jock events. Life is full of surprises. Prince took the massive stage (which was modeled after his logo) to perform various of his beloved jams. There was, fascinatingly, little overt spectacle in this show – it was just Prince absolutely shredding his guitar, and commanding the stage like no one else ever has or ever will. And, rather poetically, he ended the show with a tear-inducing rendition of “Purple Rain,” as rain cascaded around him and his gloriously funky guitar. It rocked, it was moving, and it is, we are confident to say, the best Super Bowl halftime show of all time.