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Super Bowl Halftime Shows: What are the best and worst performances of all-time?

The Super Bowl halftime show generates almost as much interest as the game itself, but the performances weren’t always the grand spectacles they are today.

¿Cuánto tiempo se tarda en montar y desmontar el halftime show del Super Bowl?

The Super Bowl Halftime Show has been around as long as the competition has, and just like the game itself, it has evolved since it made its debut in 1967.

In the beginning, university marching bands provided the entertainment during the halftime break, which was then seen mostly as a time to go to the bathroom or get some snacks. This changed in the 1990s, when popular musical acts began to entertain the audience with a mini-concert.

New Kids on the Block

The first to break into the scene were the New Kids on the Block, whose performance is often cited as one of the worst. This was not because they lacked talent- they simply did not get the chance to sing their biggest hits as they had to share the stage with a Disney Kiddie choir and Disney characters as part of the tribute to the Super Bowl’s 25th anniversary, which was produced by the Walt Disney Company.

Michael Jackson

Two years later, the NFL realized they could attract a massive audience and drum up interest in the game with the show and called on major superstar power in the figure of Michael Jackson. His performance is considered one of the best in NFL history, beginning by standing absolutely still for a minute and a half before breaking out into his biggest hit, Billie Jean.

After Jackson, other artists were under pressure to deliver electrifying performances that were needed on this large a stage, and achieved varying degrees of success.

Although choices for the best and the worst are subjective, there are some elements to look into when determining which triumphed and which ones bombed.

Super Bowl LVIII:

The elements of success

The Super Bowl Halftime Show is expected to be an extravaganza, over-the-top, and a feast for the senses. Great production value is a must, with sensational sets, effects, costumes, and dancers. The minimum for a successful concert of course is an abundance of musical talent, stage presence, and that intangible quality, the X-factor.

Successful shows also have a feel of cohesiveness, where the audience sees those 15 minutes or so as making sense. Taking into consideration all these, here are some of the best acts to make an appearance at Super Bowl Halftime Shows.


It was actually Taylor Swift who was rumoured to be taking on the challenge of the 2022 Halftime Show, but her re-recording process was not done and a deal was not signed. On September 25, 2022, the NFL announced that Rihanna would headline the Halftime Show, marking the Barbadian artist’s first live performance in five years. Her show was a resounding success, more than 121 million viewers across TV and digital platforms and during the week, her studio albums sold a total of 142,000 and her songs received 62.2 million on-demand streams across the US. As well as this, it was later confirmed that Rihanna was pregnant during the 11-song set performed at State Farm Stadium.


Prince’s appearance in 2007 is acknowledged by many to be one of the best (if not THE best) Super Bowl shows. From the iconic stage that was in the shape of his symbol, to the skies cooperating when he sang Purple Rain, his performance was mythical.


Beyoncé's 2013 appearance featured a long-awaited reunion of Destiny’s Child. Her execution of her hits Crazy in Love, Independent Women, and especially Halo, showed exactly why she is the queen.

Katy Perry

Katy Perry drew in the biggest live TV audience for a Super Bowl Halftime Show in 2015 by riding a giant lion onstage as she sang Roar. She shared the spotlight with Missy Eliott and Lenny Kravitz in the show which received critical acclaim.

The best of hiphop

A couple of years ago, icons of hiphop pulled together the top artists in the genre with Dr. Dre, Snoop, Mary J. Blige, 50 Cent, Eminem, and Kendrick Lamar singing hit after hit in a jam-packed performance that made the most of every second of the 15-minute show.

Diana Ross

Diana Ross delivered an outstanding concert with her biggest hits, and considering it was 1996, the magnitude of the production was impressive. She descended from the sky to begin the show, and ended it by flying off in a helicopter.

Shakira and J. Lo

Shakira and Jennifer Lopez’s show in 2020 holds the record for being the most searched-for in history. The two Latina icons whipped up a frenzy with J. Lo pole dancing and Shakira’s hips not lying.

The other side of the coin: Black Eyed Peas

As for the acts that didn’t fare as well, there’s the 2011 Black Eyed Peas headliner which received much criticism for not being able to capture the interest of the live audience. Having Slash and Usher appear did not prevent the show from being described as “hideous”, “a bore”, and simply “disastrous”.

Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake’s 2018 reappearance at the Super Bowl 14 years after the controversial nipple-revealing incident involving Janet Jackson was bland, even described as the most boring Halftime Show in the modern era. The show’s highlight and saving grace was a duet of I Would Die for You with a two-dimensional Prince.

Adam Levine

The most memorable part of Adam Levine’s 2019 appearance was him taking off his shirt. His rendition of his non-high-octane hits like Harder to Breathe did not get the audience going. The singer was the best the NFL could come up with that year, given that stars like Rihanna and Cardi B refused to perform in the wake of the league ousting Colin Kaepernick after he knelt at the start of an NFL game to protest police brutality.

After such a long wait, the Super Bowl is set to finally begin on Sunday 11 February 2024, with kick-off at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada, scheduled for 6:30 p.m. ET/3:30 p.m. PT. The Halftime Show this year, if you don’t already know, will be performed by Usher, the singer behind songs such as Yeah! and DJ Got Us Falling In Love Again.