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The Student News Site of Lynbrook High School

Horizon

The Student News Site of Lynbrook High School

Horizon

Ranking the Best Super Bowl Halftime Performances of All-time

Whats your all-time favorite Superbowl Halftime show?
Maha Ajmal
What’s your all-time favorite Superbowl Halftime show?
  1. Michael Jackson (1993)

After the “King of Pop” hit the stage at Super Bowl XXVII in 1993, the halftime show would never be the same. Arguably the greatest pop star of all time, Michael Jackson made history, and his performance maintains its relevance 31 years later, deserving of the title of the greatest halftime performance of all time. 

Before 1993, the Super Bowl halftime featured marching bands and drill teams, but Jackson was the first pop star to take the stage. Following his explosive entrance where he utilized stunt doubles and the stadium’s jumbotrons to make it seem as though he was getting launched out of the screen, the real Jackson stepped on stage and stood completely still. Despite the cheering from the roaring crowd, he did not break his silence. After almost two minutes, he removed his glasses from his face, fireworks were set off, and the music began. His silence built the suspense to allow him to put on the most memorable performances in halftime history. It featured some of the biggest pop hits at the time, and inevitably, Jackson’s iconic dance moves. He started with a medley of “Jam” and “Why You Wanna Trip on Me,” followed by “Billie Jean” and “Black or White.” His entrance had already shocked the audience, but his finale left them speechless. Jackson was joined by a choir of over 3,000 children singing “Around the World” by Daft Punk and “Heal the World” alongside an inflatable globe and a video montage of Jackson participating in various humanitarian events. Jackson side slid, kicked, and moonwalked his way to the top, and he changed the Super Bowl forever. His performance left behind an immense legacy in the pop culture world, making it impossible to top. 

 

  1. Bruno Mars, Featuring the Red Hot Chili Peppers (2014)

The multi-talented popstar Bruno Mars truly delivers the complete package when it comes to performing. He not only has a unique set of vocal cords and a wide range, but he is an incredible dancer, and he can play seven different instruments. He delivered a performance that is still talked about and highly revered. His captivating stage presence had the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, in awe. When Mars’ talent joined forces with the iconic rock band The Red Hot Chili Peppers, they delivered a hot performance, landing them the second position on the list. 

Kicking off Super Bowl XLVIII halftime in 2014, the entire stadium went dark except for fireworks and flashing lights coming from the stage. The only music heard was the harmonization from a children’s choir positioned at the bottom of the stage. They were singing the background music of one of Mars’ most popular songs, “Billionaire.” Mars entered the stage and showcased his versatility by giving a powerful drum solo before beginning the show. He hit it off with “Locked out of Heaven.” He then continued with “Treasure,” “Runaway Baby,” and ended with “Give It Away,” featuring the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The fusion of Mars’ R&B sound with the Red Hot Chili Peppers created a dynamic and electric finale that had the entire stadium jumping. It was an extremely memorable moment that left an impression on the music industry. 

 

  1. Shakira and JLo, Featuring Bad Bunny and J Balvin (2020)

Latina powerhouses Shakira and JLo brought the house down in Hardrock Stadium, in Miami, Florida, and delivered the most-viewed halftime performance of all time. They amassed over 260 million views to date, and their performance was hot, energetic, and unforgettable. 

History was made at Super Bowl LIV as this was the first all-Latin halftime performance and the first performance that had two women headlining. Both women have clearly distinct styles of performing, as Shakira delivered a playful and colorful Latin set, compared to JLo, who had a dazzling, over-the-top, Vegas-style show. Both sets were focused on dance moves, dance troupes, and visuals. 

After Shakira rose from a circular platform in center field, she launched into “She Wolf.” She then played an electric guitar where she honored her rock roots and played “Empire” and Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.” She finished with “Whenever, Wherever” before Bad Bunny took the stage. He delivered “I Like It” and “Chantaje” before the grand finale. Shakira body surfed into the crowd while she finished with her iconic song “Hips Don’t Lie” and handed the stage over to JLo. 

JLo rose to the stage to the tune of “Jenny from the Block ” accompanied by dancers with canes. Then she and her dancers shimmied to “Waiting for Tonight”and began a tightly choreographed set. Impressed by her athleticism at 50 years young, JLo danced through “Love Don’t Cost a Thing” before she greeted J Balvin and Bad Bunny to the stage. The two delivered “Qué Calor ” and Balvin’s hit “Mi Gente” before the grand finale. 

JLo’s 11-year-old daughter, Emme, surprised the audience as she appeared on stage with a children’s chorus all dressed in white to help her mom sing “Let’s Get Loud” while she was draped in a gigantic American flag. Shakira reentered to join JLo as she ended with “Waka Waka” where the two were accompanied by Latin percussionists and dance moves. The two had everyone dancing as their lively performance brought the energy. Two women should share the stage sometime soon because when two powerhouses collide, a masterpiece is produced. 

 

  1. Lady Gaga (2017)

Lady Gaga is a multi-talented performer who always makes a statement. Her unique style never fails to shock the media, as she can be seen dressing in anything from space-age bodysuits to dresses made of deli meat. Her innovative creativity and her musical skill set combined to create an unforgettable Super Bowl LI halftime show that astonished the media.

Gaga began standing at the top of the NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas, as she delivered an emotional medley of “God Bless America” and “This Land Is Your Land.” She then dove into the stadium, defying gravity before delivering an unforgettable performance. 

She began with “Poker Face” as she was levitating around the stage accompanied by smoke and fireworks. Following “Poker Face,” she was joined by her dancers all dressed in silver to perform “Born This Way.” She moved into “Telephone” and “Just Dance” before the entire stadium went dark. The audience lit up the stage with lights as Gaga performed “A Million Reasons” on the piano. She showed off her incredible vocal range and multi-talented nature before her big finale. She ended energetically in an all-white outfit with “Bad Romance” and left it all on the stage. 

 

  1. Beyoncé, Featuring Destiny’s Child (2013)

As soon as Beyoncé was shown on the screen posing next to a huge fire-lit silhouette of herself, it was clear that Super Bowl XLVII halftime performance was going to be centered around visual effects. With a lineup of dancers dressed in all black costumes, Beyoncé cat walked onto the stage and used doubt and criticism from fans as fuel to blow the crowd away. 

Beyoncé’s performance of the National Anthem at former-President Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony in 2013, not even two weeks before the Super Bowl, was not received well by the media. Her name was surrounded with negativity, and her halftime performance was not extremely anticipated. 

Despite the controversy, Beyoncé performed a legendary show and proved the entire nation wrong. She opened with “Love on Top” before going on to “Crazy in Love.” She then sang “End of Time,” where she stood before an electronic screen depicting multiple images of herself and sang “Baby Boy.” The climax of her set was when she reunited with fellow Destiny’s Child Members, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams. They launched into a rendition of Destiny’s Child’s “Bootylicious” before cranking the energy in Caesars Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, to the max. They ended with “Independent Woman: Part 1 before Beyoncé closed out the show. 

She kept the crowd energy up with “Single Ladies” and ended electrically with an emotional performance of “Halo.” 

 

  1. Justin Timberlake (2018)

In 2018 at Super Bowl LII, Justin Timberlake made the media remember what made him such a great performer. Paying tribute to his album Man of the Woods, dressed in a camouflage suit, he danced his way through the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and fell back on his roots to perform his greatest hits.

He began his performance in a more intimate venue within the stadium singing to a smaller audience before he emerged onto the main floor. He danced his way across a pathway that stretched across the field to the stage. He started with “Filthy” before moving into “Rock Your Body” then “Señorita,” and he had the crowd clapping along to his incredible dance moves. He moved into his iconic song “SexyBack” before singing “My Love” and jumping off the stage to continue the performance on the field. He led his troupe of dancers across the field and was accompanied by a marching band to perform “Suit and Tie.” Then, the entire stadium went dark and was lit by the audience’s flashlights as Timberlake played the piano and played “Until the End of Time” and “I Would Die 4 U” as a tribute to pop legend Prince.

For his finale, he had the crowd clapping along to “Mirrors” and hundreds of dancers on the field performing while holding large mirrors. This created a unique reflection throughout the stadium, lighting up the darkness. For his final song, the stadium lights turned back on and the high energy from the beginning of the performance returned. Timberlake ended with “Can’t Stop the Feeling” and moved through the stands. 

 

  1. Prince (2007)

Prior to Super Bowl XLI in 2007, heavy rain fell over Miami, causing a sense of dread to wash over those attending the game and those involved in the halftime show. The audience needed energy, and Prince gave them just that. Lighting up the stage and giving an electric performance, 

Accompanied with an explosion and strikes of lightning, Prince made his entrance and began by playing “Let’s Go Crazy.” Next, he was accompanied by the Florida A&M University marching band, where he played a medley of his songs “Baby, I’m a Star,” “1999,” and “Proud Mary,” by Creedence Clearwater Revival. He then played a medley of Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower and the Foo Fighters’ “Best of You.” He filled the stadium with his lively energy when he played one of his most iconic songs, “Purple Rain,” on his purple guitar as his finale. Prince was really the sunshine after the rain, and he lifted the spirits of live attendees and the rest of the country that was watching.

 

  1. The Weeknd (2021)

The Weeknd brought his After Hours era to Super Bowl LV and produced one of the most unique and controversial halftimes ever in 2021 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. 

His performance was centered around Vegas-inspired visuals and was full of lights. His show began with a choir harmonizing “Call out My Name” before The Weeknd emerged in his iconic red suit. He began with “Starboy” while the choir eerily danced behind him before moving into “The Hills.” As he passionately sang, smoke and fireworks were being set off behind him, increasing the energy in the stadium. He then grabbed the camera and entered a light tunnel built inside his stage to sing “Can’t Feel My Face.” Then, the smaller room he was in started to flood with dancers dressed exactly like him, but they all had bandaged faces. He re-emerged into the stadium to his uniquely built set to sing his hit “Save Your Tears.” He was then accompanied by an orchestra to sing “Worth It.” 

His finale began with all the lights going out and the stadium being re-illuminated by his bandaged dancers who were now on the field. He and his dancers performed choreography before breaking character and haphazardly running around the field. As soon as The Weeknd resumed singing, his dancers were almost hypnotized and began dancing again. He finished with his hit song “Blinding Lights,” before his hundreds of dancers fell to the ground, creating a dramatic and memorable ending.

 

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About the Contributors
Alexis Raynor, Print Editor-in-Chief
Hi! My name is Alexis Raynor, and I am a member of the Class of 2024 and a managing editor for Horizon. I love to dance and hang out with my friends. I am also a part of the school kickline team and love writing for Horizon!
Maha Ajmal, Assistant Editor
Hi! I am a member of the Class of 2026 and an arts and graphics editor for Horizon. I am also a member of the Student Diversity club and the publicist for the Crafting Smiles club. In my free time, I like to paint and read.