The Best (and Worst) Super Bowl Halftime Shows

We recently watched the incredible game that would determine who would be competing in Super Bowl LIII. While many (most?) people will be glued to their screens as the Patriots and the Rams duke it out on the field, there are others of us who enjoy the Super Bowl for the opportunity to eat nachos and wings, watch witty commercials, and enjoy the halftime show.

Unfortunately, not every halftime show is as spectacular as it could be. Granted, the singers are performing for over 100 million people, which could be a bit nerve-wracking. But nerves don’t always explain the underwhelming or outright bizarre performances. Here we take a look at some of the best (and one of the worst) halftime shows throughout the years. Let’s hope that Maroon 5 (who will be headlining this year, joined by Travis Scott and Big Boi) ends up on the better part of this list.


4. Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child — 2013

If ever there was a question as to whether Beyoncé is an incredible performer or not, it was put to rest following this fierce display. She can sing, she can dance, and she can absolutely put on a show. (And who else can pull off that outfit in front of millions of people?!) What made it even better, though, was the fact that this acted as a long-awaited reunion for Destiny’s Child. Queen Bae, Kelly Rowland, and Michelle Williams knocked it out of the park (or scored a touchdown, a metaphor which would be more appropriate given the circumstances) during this halftime show.

3. Bruno Mars and Red Hot Chili Peppers — 2014

The show began with a line of children holding hands while singing. Then we cut to Bruno Mars banging it out on a set of drums (who knew he could play so well?). Then the band took the stage — all dressed like Bruno — and played, sang and danced it out. The energy that this group brought to the stage was infectious. Just when you thought it couldn’t get more entertaining, the Red Hot Chili Peppers joined Bruno on the stage and blew it out of the water with “Give it Away.” What would have seemed to be a very odd pairing of bands turned out to be a brilliant combination.

2. Prince — 2007

Oh, Prince, how we miss you. When the fans in the audience realized that they were allowed to rush the stage (which was in the shape of Prince’s “Artist Formerly Known As Prince” symbol) the looks on their faces were priceless. And who can blame them? For this performance, Prince just looked like he was having so much fun. (And that is part of the reason he was such an incredible performer — he always looked like he was enjoying himself.) The halftime show was chock-full of well-known cover songs, and then we got Prince singing his heart out to Purple Rain.

1. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers — 2008

This performance just did everything right. We had the obligatory light show (which was kind of cute, as an arrow pierced a heart before the band took the stage), and then we had Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers do what they do best. They performed some of their classic songs that everyone could sing along to (“American Girl,” “Won’t Back Down,” and “Free Fallin'”), and they did it well. There were no silly dance moves or gimmicks. Just an incredible band playing songs that people wanted to hear, making everyone happy. Shouldn’t it always be that way?


Elvis “Presto” — 1989

We’re not completely sure what this was, or why the organizers of the Super Bowl thought that this would be a good idea. There were women in poodle skirts and guys in letter jackets dancing on the field as an Elvis impersonator performed relatively poorly. The oddest part was that he didn’t even look much like Elvis — I’ve seen better impersonators marry people at chapels in Las Vegas. Finally, this was in 1989 — 12 years after the death of Elvis. So the timing was also odd. It didn’t coincide with any important anniversaries. So strange, and so not well done.