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Sounding OFF: Top 10 Super Bowl Halftime Performances

Super Bowl LII Halftime Show

It’s almost time for the big game… Super Bowl LII will undoubtedly be one of the television’s biggest nights, with viewers tuning in all across the country to watch the Philadelphia Eagles take on the New England Patriots in a rematch for the ages.

Justin Timberlake returns to the halftime stage, this year, almost 14 years after a shocking fashion faux pas where he exposed Janet Jackson’s right breast to some 140 million viewers watching at home. Audiences are not sure what to expect from the now 34-year-old father of one, but if last year’s halftime show with Lady Gaga is any indication, it will certainly be something everyone will be talking about on Monday morning.

Halftime entertainment has been an essential part of the Super Bowl since it began 52 years ago. But, it wasn’t until Super Bowl XXV that we began to see the type of spectacle that has a third of the American population tuning in.

Before the kick-off, this week, Sounding OFF takes a look back at some of the biggest and most memorable halftime performances from the past.

Super Bowl XXV

Prior to 1991, the Super Bowl had seen many noteworthy performers take the stage, including Chubby Checker, Pete Fountain, Ella Fitzgerald, and several collegiate marching bands.

The halftime show was produced by the Walt Disney Company, with the theme, “It’s a Small World,” a tribute to 25 years of the game. The production featured some of the most beloved Disney characters on stage with 2,000 local children, who joined the boy group, New Kids on the Block for their performance of “This One’s For the Children.” Unfortunately, due to breaking news coverage on Operation: Desert Storm, the show wasn’t broadcast until after the conclusion of the game. Nevertheless, it was the start of the halftime spectacle we know today.

Super Bowl XXVII

Viewership started to wain in 1992, after many viewers tuned out for a special episode of the Wayans Brothers’ sketch comedy show, In Living Colour. To attract more viewers, producers got the late “King of Pop” to perform a medley of his hits. Michael Jackson sent viewership through the roof, with one of the most watched performances in Television history.  

Super Bowl XXXII

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Motown, R&B/soul group The Temptations took to the halftime stage with Boyz II Men, Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves, Queen Latifah, and the Grambling State University marching band.

Super Bowl XXXV

Timberlake actually made his Super Bowl debut in 2001 as part of the boy band N’Sync. The halftime show was produced by MTV and featured an all-star performance from the “Kings of Rock and Pop,” which included Aerosmith, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, and rapper, Nelly.

Super Bowl XXXVI

In the memory of those lost on September 11, 2001, the Irish rock band U2 performed a medley of songs, including “Beautiful Day,” an upbeat track about losing everything but still finding joy in what one has, “MLK” from the 1984 album The Unforgettable Fire, and “Where the Streets Have No Name,” from their 1987 album, Joshua Tree.

Super Bowl XXXIX

Following the controversial “wardrobe malfunction” which took place during the halftime performance also featuring Jessica Simpson, Diddy, Nelly, and Kid Rock… the NFL decided to go a more conservative route. The half-time show featured former-Beatle and legendary songwriter Paul McCartney who gave a captivating performance of hits like “Drive My Car,” “Get Back,” “Live and Let Die,” and “Hey Jude.”

Super Bowl XLI 

Prince will go down as one of the most legendary Super Bowl performances to date. Sponsored by Pepsi the halftime performance opened with a rendition of “We Will Rock You” by Queen, which he followed with his timeless classics “Let’s Go Crazy” and “Baby I’m a Star.”

Viewers were stunned by his captivating performance of classic rock anthems by Creedence Clearwater Revival and Jimi Hendrix, which he followed with a breathtaking cover of “Best of You” by The Foo Fighters.

Super Bowl XLIII 

Following the halftime performance by the late-Tom Petty, in 2008, the Super Bowl really started to seem like it was aiming for family-oriented musicians and “The Boss” fit the mold perfectly. Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band performed a few of their biggest hits, including “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out,” “Born to Run,” “Working on a Dream”, and the ever nostalgiac “Glory Days.”

Super Bowl XLVII

Before causing a stir with her Black Panther-inspired performance of “Formation,” Beyoncé took the stage in 2013, where she was joined by Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams of the girl-group Destiny’s Child, for a special live performance of their songs “Bootylicious,” “Independent Women Part I” and Queen Bey’s own “Single Ladies.”

Super Bowl LI

While pop singer Katy Perry would make “left-shark” an internet sensation, Lady Gaga was busy mastering acrobatics for her over-the-top performance at Super Bowl LI, last year. The performance was also the first time that the halftime show has ever acknowledged members of the LGBT community.

To check out this year’s performance, be sure not to miss Super Bowl LII on Sunday, Feb. 2 at 6:30 p.m. EST

 

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