The 10 Greatest Super Bowl Halftime Shows Of All Time

There is no greater spectacle in the world of sports than the Super Bowl, which has come full circle since its inception in the late '60s, when the Green Bay Packers were kings of the NFL. The style of play has changed, with more emphasis on passing and scoring in the name of TV ratings, and the entertainment - including the commercials - has also undergone quite a transformation, particularly the halftime show. The Super Bowl halftime show has become an event unto itself, with the target demographics shifting dramatically in the early '90s. The 1986 performer was Up with People (for the umpteenth time); by 1991 it was New Kids on the Block. Here are the Ten Best Super Bowl Halftime Performances.

10. Salute to Motown - Super Bowl XXXII.

While the venue for the Motown show was questionable (San Diego), the show was great, featuring some of the true heavyweights of the era, including Martha Reeves, the Temptations and Smokey Robinson, along with modern acts like Queen Latifah and Boys II Men. Throw in the Grambling State marching bang and you've got a hot Super Bowl halftime show before such was even fashionable.

9. The Rolling Stones - Super Bowl XL.

The Rolling Stones didn't do anything wrong... They just didn't do anything that they hadn't already done a million times before. Considering the age of the average viewer, Baby Boomer-era entertainment might have sent viewers elsewhere for a more contemporary form of halftime talent.

8. Ella Fitzgerald, Carol Channing and Al Hirt - Super Bowl VI


When you take into account the fact that pro football was aimed at a more mature audience in 1972, the halftime show for Super Bowl VI was about as good as it was going to get. With the contest being played in New Orleans, the theme was A Tribute to Louis Armstrong. The lineup featured Ella Fitzgerald, one of the great female jazz vocalists of all time.

7. The Who - Super Bowl XLIV.

 Like the Stones before them, The Who would have been a better choice about 20 years before they actually got tabbed to play the Super Bowl halftime show in 2010. As many in talk radio pointed out, most of the people watching the game were too young to have ever remember having seen The Who play before. They did a great job, but bollocks to Pete Townsend for not smashing his red Stratocaster. It might've been his last chance to do that in front of a big audience.

6. Prince - Super Bowl XLI

The artist formerly known as an unintelligible symbol would have warranted a higher rating, with his virtuoso guitar performance on "Purple Rain", had it not been for the blatantly phallic instrument he chose to play. C'mon, Prince... Or whatever your name is these days.

5. Rockin' Country Sunday - Super Bowl XXVIII

In a nod to the popularity of country music, the League put up a lineup featuring some of the biggest country stars of all time, including Clint Black, Tanya Tucker and Travis Tritt. The country flavor carried over from the previous year, when The Star Spangled Banner was belted out by Garth Brooks.

4. Bruce Springsteen - Super Bowl XLIII

The Boss took it upon himself to be placed in the Top Three. Known for moody performances, Springsteen reverted to his live-wire stage roots, really putting on a rollicking show. He easily beat the expectations, and made the competition Puppy Bowl all the less watchable.

3. Michael Jackson - Super Bowl XXVII

The King of Pop's appearance after the 1993 season (before everything in his world turned strange) marked the first time a major international star had been booked. Jackson's remarkable four-song performance in Pasadena also hinged the halftime show as a ratings-grabber.

2. Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake - Super Bowl XXXVIII

 This is highly rated, not because it was a particularly memorable halftime show, but because of the last few seconds when Justin Timberlake ripped off Janet Jackson's velcro breast cover, revealing - gasp - her near-naked breast on live TV (she had the good taste to wear a pasty). The NFL, suddenly wishing for an Up with People reprisal, booked Paul McCartney for the following season's Super Bowl halftime show.

1. U2 - Super Bowl XXXVI

 In a stirring tribute to 9/11 victims, whose suffering had begun barely 12 weeks prior, the Irish supergroup blasted out "Where the Streets Have No Name" as the names of the fallen were run up a pair of unfurled banners onstage. Only a band like U2 could have handled that moment of gravitas, and they did it at halftime in which the Super Bowl was won, fittingly enough, by the Patriots.