Top 10 Cringiest Halftime Show Moments

VOICE OVER: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: William Regot
When something goes wrong at a Super Bowl halftime show, the mistake can be larger than life. For this list, we're looking at moments from Super Bowl Halftime Shows that offended people, or were awkward/cringe worthy. Our list includes Fergie, Left Shark, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Justin Timberlake, Maroon 5 and more! Did YOUR favorite cringe moment make the list? Let us know in the comments below!
Written by William Regot

Top 10 Cringiest Halftime Show Moments

When something goes wrong at a Super Bowl halftime show, the mistake can be larger than life. Welcome to WatchMojo, and today, we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Cringiest Halftime Show Moments. For this list, we’re looking at moments from Super Bowl Halftime Shows that offended people, or were awkward/cringe worthy. We're not necessarily saying the whole performance was bad. These are specific moments from performances that can still be weird even if the overall musical performance was good.

#10: Fergie Singing “Sweet Child o’ Mine”

The whole Black Eyed Peas performance from their 2011 halftime show was a disaster, from their stilted dance moves to their outlandish outfits. However, when former Gun N’ Roses guitarist Slash first came out playing the opening riff to “Sweet Child o’ Mine,” things looked like they could liven up. But then Fergie started singing, killing any hope for momentum. Instead of trying to perform the song in her unique voice, she tried to sound like Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose, as if that’s something Slash or anybody else wanted to hear.

#9: A Disney Filled Mess

In 1991, Disney produced the Super Bowl halftime show, and it’s hard to pinpoint what was the cringiest moment. It could have been the little kids dressing up like football players and cheerleaders doing a cheesy song and dance number. Or the costumed Disney characters who joined them including Minnie Mouse, Goofy, and Roger Rabbit. The main act for the halftime show was The New Kids on the Block, because that’s the perfect group to entertain football fans, right? Rather than air the show live, ABC decided to show a news report on the Persian Gulf War. It’s safe to say that ABC made the right decision.

#8: A Halftime Show on Ice

As part of the theme “Winter Magic,” the 1992 halftime show featured performers dressed in white and blue dancing to “Winter Wonderland” and “The Nutcracker.” The show also highlighted the U.S. Olympic skating team, and Brian Boitano and Margaret Hamill got a chance to show their talents on the rink. This is yet another example of a halftime show that doesn’t try to appeal to the average football fan and instead just wants to appeal to people who only tune into football once a year for the Super Bowl. The following year, the Super Bowl got it right by getting Michael Jackson to perform.

#7: The Left Shark

While Katy Perry was singing “Teenage Dream” at her 2015 Halftime Show, she was joined by two backup dancers in shark costumes within some sort of beach setting. What made the sharks so memorable was how much the one on the left was obviously struggling to keep up with the choreography. Viewers accused the shark of going “rogue,” and it was all anyone could talk about from the Super Bowl and the days following. The only thing more ridiculous than a dancing shark is one that doesn’t know what he’s doing.

#6: Indiana Jones and the Shameless Marketing Gimmick

For the 1995 halftime show, Disney decided to go with an Indiana Jones theme to promote a new ride, Temple of the Forbidden Eye, which hit Disney theme parks that year. As expected, the Indiana Jones inspired show was a giant spectacle full of sets and characters from the film series. This included impersonators for Indiana Jones and Marion, who acted more like Willie from “Temple of Doom,” obnoxiously shouting “Indy!” when she was in trouble. Not even guest singers Patti LaBelle and Tony Bennett could save this trainwreck.

#5: The Red Hot Chili Peppers Faking Their Performance

When the Red Hot Chili Peppers played at Bruno Mars’ 2014 Halftime Show, it was apparent the band didn’t have their instruments hooked up. Despite the loud sounds blaring from the speakers and enthusiastic guitar picking coming from the players. This led to accusations that the Red Hot Chili Peppers had faked their performance at the halftime show. Shortly after, the band came clean, and bassist Flea wrote a statement on the band’s website explaining their actions, saying that it was the NFL’s idea that “only the vocals be live” and “the bass, drums and guitar be pre-recorded.”

#4: Maroon 5

Following the controversy surrounding Colin Kaepernick and the unwillingness for any NFL team to sign him, several musical acts decided to sit out the Super Bowl halftime show in 2019. However, Maroon 5 answered the call and got flack for doing so. Critics believed all major artists should have boycotted the halftime show to support Kapernick and punish any company that silenced protest. To defuse the controversy, the band decided to give 500,000 dollars to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America, yet it still hung over the band while they played their set.

#3: An Elvis Impersonator’s Magic Flop

Before the 1990s, Super Bowl halftime shows didn’t focus on pop stars. Case in point, the main act for Super Bowl XXIII’s halftime show in 1989 was an Elvis impersonator who performed magic tricks under the name “Elvis Presto.” Not making that up. During the show, Elvis Presto, accompanied by four backup singers, performed a card trick where the audience was asked to pick from four cards. The card they picked was based on how loud their applause was. Fortunately, the NFL decided not to continue in this direction for future halftime shows.

#2: A Tribute to Prince

Playing in Minneapolis in 2018, Justin Timberlake decided to display a video projection of Prince as an homage to the late artist. Timberlake sang “I Would Die 4 U” along with the video, part of which was taken from the movie “Purple Rain.” Fans protested that Timberlake was being disrespectful to Prince’s memory, especially after he had promised that he wouldn’t use a hologram. In a 1998 Guitar World interview, Prince expressed disapproval of technology that brought back musical legends for collaborations, so Timberlake most likely wouldn’t have had his blessing.

#1: Janet Jackson’s “Wardrobe Malfunction”

Unsurprisingly, Justin Timberlake also takes the top spot for his appearance at the 2004 halftime show where he removed a piece of clothing from Janet Jackson showing TV viewers her bare breast. Whether this was the intended climax of the halftime show or an honest “wardrobe malfunction, this incident brought the show to a screeching halt, while Ms. Jackson covered herself with a look of shame. Then, of course, there was the outrage from angry parents, and the clip was shown repeatedly on television so we could relive the cringe over and over and over again...