Pop Culture

From Bruno Mars to Left Shark: 10 most unforgettable Super Bowl halftime shows

Thanks to Bruno Mars, Left Shark and a somewhat-secret Destiny's Child reunion, long gone are the days when marching bands were enough halftime entertainment to maintain the attention of Super Bowl viewers.

AP, Getty Images

About two hours after Super Bowl 50 kicks off Feb. 7, Coldplay will headline the halftime show, perhaps with a little help from previous collaborators in Rihanna and 2013 headliner Beyoncé. And because the past three decades in particular have yielded some undeniably unforgettable halftime shows, the seven-time Grammy Award winners have some tough acts to follow.

In the meantime, TODAY.com has ranked the 10 most memorable Super Bowl halftime shows from "Oh, yeah, I remember that one!" to "If you don't remember this one, consult a physician immediately." (Keep in mind that "most memorable" and "best" mean two different things.)

10. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (2009)

Jamie Squire / Getty Images
TAMPA, FL - FEBRUARY 01: Musician Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band perform at the Bridgestone halftime show during Super Bowl XLIII between the Arizona Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers on February 1, 2009 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Bruce Springsteen

Bruuuuuuce and Co. sneaked onto this list because of the viral moment when Springsteen slid on his knees and accidentally smashed his jean-covered crotch into a TV camera lens. Other than that memorable gaffe, this halftime show falls into the solid-yet-comparably-forgettable category shared by fellow rock icons Paul McCartney (2005), the Rolling Stones (2006), Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (2008) and the Who (2010).

9. Madonna, Nicki Minaj, M.I.A., LMFAO and CeeLo Green (2012)

Al Bello / Getty Images
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 05: Madonna (R) performs during the Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Madonna

Memorable and Madonna go hand in hand when a live and international audience is involved — especially with an emerging Nicki Minaj in tow — but arguably M.I.A.'s middle-finger flip caused the most commotion. The whole thing yielded an "SNL" sketch lampooning the highs and lows, including Andy Samberg's especially goofy impression of the random tightrope guy, as well as an appearance by "SNL" musical guest Katy Perry, who'd lead her own halftime show three years later.

8. Beyoncé and Destiny’s Child (2013)

Gerald Herbert / AP
Beyonce performs with Kelly Rowland, left, and Michelle Williams, right, of Destiny's Child, during the halftime show of the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Sure, "Love on Top" and "Baby Boy" sent the Beygency into a Beyoncé frenzy (a Freyonzé, if you will), but when the rumors of a Destiny's Child onstage reunion turned out to be true, Twitter essentially exploded. Teaming up for DC hits "Bootylicious" and "Independent Women," as well as Beyoncé's monster "Single Ladies," the trio lived up to the hype, which, in the social-media age, is almost impossible to do.

7. Aerosmith, 'NSYNC, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige and Nelly (2001)

AP
Singer Britney Spears, flanked by Steven Tyler of Aerosmtih, second from left, and hip-hop star Nelly, second from right, join 'N Sync members Justin Timberlake, far left, and Lance Bass, far right on stage for the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXV on Sunday, Jan. 28, 2001, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Amy E. Conn)

We're not sure what we saw, but we certainly remember seeing it. Ben Stiller's crucial pre-taped introduction/pep talk thing. 'NSYNC's peppy "Bye Bye Bye" awkward segue into Aerosmith's sappy "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing." The athletic-sock-as-bracelet fad that lasted only as long as Britney was onstage. Mary J. Blige and Nelly bringing power vocals and rap skills, respectively, to Aerosmith's "Walk This Way." Loud noises. The only thing missing from this "TRL" all-star spectacular was that MTV show's former host, and current TODAY co-anchor, Carson Daly.

6. Bruno Mars and Red Hot Chili Peppers (2014)

Paul Sancya / AP
Bruno Mars performs during the halftime show of the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

Judging this one by its cliché intro (Dramatic lighting! Kids holding hands and singing in unison!) would be a mistake. With that out of the way, Mars made almost everyone a believer with a soulful and synchronized spectacular that entranced audiences of all ages with the help of catchy tunes, an impeccably dressed horn section and dance moves that would have made James Brown shout with glee. The Chili Peppers were there, too, we guess, but this show was really about the 14-minute trip to Mars.

5. Michael Jackson (1993)

Rusty Kennedy / AP
FILE - This Feb. 1, 1993 file photo shows Pop superstar Michael Jackson performing during the halftime show at the Super Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. Quincy Jones sued Jackson's estate on Friday, Oct. 25, 2013, claiming that he was owed millions in royalties and fees on music that's been used in post-death Jackson projects including the "This Is It" concert film. Jones produced Jackson's "Off the Wall," "Thriller" and "Bad" albums. (AP Photo/Rusty Kennedy, file)

M.J.'s bizarre collection of body-doubles led to a lip-synced amalgam of selected hits and a chorus of more than 3,000 kids. The buildup to this event was staggering, in large part because — with apologies to recurring Super Bowl trumpeter Al Hirt — Super Bowl halftime shows by comparison weren't very memorable before then. Without the King of Pop, this list might be a 49-way tie for least memorable halftime show.

4. Katy Perry, Missy Elliott, Lenny Kravitz — and Left Shark (2015)

David J. Phillip / AP
FILE - In this Feb. 1, 2015, file photo, singer Katy Perry performs during halftime of the NFL Super Bowl XLIX football game in Glendale, Ariz. The dancing sharks that stole some of the spotlight during Perry's Super Bowl halftime show have taken a bite out of an artist's bid to sell small figurines of them. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File)

Advertised as headliner Katy Perry with special guest Lenny Kravitz, the performance also introduced a new generation to the genius of Missy Elliott. But the performer who stole the show — and hijacked social media for weeks on end — was the spontaneously named Left Shark, who didn't quite seem to have the dance moves down. Almost lost in the shuffle was Perry, who kept things light and fun while singing her greatest hits, riding a giant mechanical jungle cat and keeping things thoroughly entertaining from beginning to end.

3. Prince (2007)

Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - FEBRUARY 04: Musician Prince performs during the "Pepsi Halftime Show" at Super Bowl XLI between the Indianapolis Colts and the Chicago Bears on February 4, 2007 at Dolphin Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Prince

It may not have been the most memorable Super Bowl halftime show, but in this writer's opinion, Prince's gimmick-free exhibition of musical supremacy was the all-time best. Rocking a medley that included "Let's Go Crazy" and "1999," Prince also inhabited captivating covers of "Proud Mary," "All Along the Watchtower," and "Best of You." In the middle of a naturally occurring downpour, he closed with a "Purple Rain" so jaw-dropping, it persuaded rough-and-tumble football fans in the stands to sing along with the coda's soaring falsetto.

2. U2 (2002)

Getty Images
03 Feb 2002: Singer Bono of the band U2 performs during Superbowl XXXVI at the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Patriots won 20-17, with a 48-yard field goal by kicker Adam Vinatieri with 10 seconds left in the game . DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Just months after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the most emotional Super Bowl performance opened with U2's electrifying rendition of the optimistic "Beautiful Day." Lights dimmed for Bono's reverent take on the song "MLK" while names of 9/11 victims scrolled up the stage backdrop. For the finale of "Where the Streets Have No Name," when Bono shouted, "America!", the crowd responded with a deafening roar, prompting Bono to belt a note that brought goosebumps, and perhaps some catharsis, to viewers still coping with the tragedy aftermath.

1. Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, P. Diddy, Kid Rock and Nelly (2004)

AP
FILE - In this Sunday Feb. 1, 2004 file photo, entertainer Janet Jackson, left, covers her breast after her outfit came undone during the half time performance with Justin Timberlake at Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston. Sony Electronics and the Nielsen television research company collaborated on a survey ranking TV's most memorable moments. Other TV events include, the Sept. 11 attacks in 2001, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the O.J. Simpson murder trial verdict in 1995 and the death of Osama bin Laden in 2011.(AP Photo/David Phillip, File)

Two words: "Wardrobe malfunction." No matter how you felt about it, this unforgettably revealing moment caused an instant stir and remained a talking-point at water coolers and Supreme Court rulings years after the game ended. You're more likely to remember the resulting cultural rift than the other halftime show performers (P. Diddy, Kid Rock and Nelly were onstage at some point, too, we're told) or even who won the game. (The Patriots beat the Panthers that year, and, yes, we had to look that up.)

Follow TODAY.com writer Chris Serico on Twitter.

  • Slideshow Photos

    Getty Images

    Super Bowl halftime snapshots since 1991

    From the Boss to Madonna to the Blues Brothers to the most famous "wardrobe malfunction," a look back at memorable Super Bowl shows.

  • Super Bowl XXV - Buffalo Bills v New York Giants

    Super Bowl halftime snapshots since 1991

    of

    New Kids on the Block

    New Kids on the Block perform at Super Bowl XXV in Tampa, Florida, on Jan. 27, 1991. The boy band was rolled into a Disney tribute to "It's a Small World" and a salute to U.S. troops. The show didn't air until after the game as ABC aired coverage of Operation Desert Storm. 

     

    Oh, the game? The New York Giants beat the Buffalo Bills 20-19.

    NFL
  • Super Bowl halftime snapshots since 1991

    of

    Gloria Estefan

    Gloria Estefan entertains the crowd during the halftime show at Super Bowl XXVI in Minneapolis on Jan. 26, 1992. The show featured a "winter magic" salute to the 1992 Winter Olympics with figure skaters Brian Boitano and Dorothy Hamill. 

     

    Oh, the game? The Washington Redskins beat the Buffalo Bills 37-24.

    AP
  • Michael Jackson

    Super Bowl halftime snapshots since 1991

    of

    Michael Jackson

    Michael Jackson performs during halftime at Super Bowl XXVII at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, on Jan. 31, 1993. The King of Pop performed "Jam," "Billie Jean," "Black or White," "We Are the World" and "Heal the World." The performance is credited with turning the halftime event into a serious entertainment spectacle for all future games. 

     Oh, the game? The Dallas Cowboys beat the Buffalo Bills 52-17.

    Getty Images
  • Super Bowl halftime snapshots since 1991

    of

    Clint Black, The Judds, Travis Tritt, Tanya Tucker

    Rockin' Country Sunday featured Clint Black, Wynonna and Naomi Judd, Travis Tritt and Tanya Tucker during halftime of Super Bowl XXVIII at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Jan. 30, 1994. 

     

    Oh, the game? The Dallas Cowboys beat the Buffalo Bills 30-13.

    AP
  • US Singers Tony Bennett (L) and Patti LaBelle perf

    Super Bowl halftime snapshots since 1991

    of

    Tony Bennett, Patti LaBelle

    Tony Bennett and Patti LaBelle join Miami Sound Machine during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXIX in Miami on Jan. 29, 1995. The show featured a fake Indiana Jones trying to find the Vince Lombardi Trophy. 

     

    Oh, the game? The San Francisco 49ers beat the San Diego Chargers 49-26.

    AFP-Getty Images
  • Diana Ross

    Super Bowl halftime snapshots since 1991

    of

    Diana Ross

    Diana Ross performs at the halftime show during Super Bowl XXX at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, on Jan. 28, 1996. She sang a few lines from several songs, made four costume changes and even left in a helicopter during "Take Me Higher." 

     

    Oh, the game? The Dallas Cowboys beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-17.

     

    Oh, the game? The Dallas Cowboys beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-17.

    Getty Images
  • 1997 Super Bowl Halftime Show

    Super Bowl halftime snapshots since 1991

    of

    The Blues Brothers, James Brown

    For a Blues Brothers Bash halftime show at Super Bowl XXXI in New Orleans, John Goodman, Dan Aykroyd and Jim Belushi performed as The Blues Brothers alongside James Brown on Jan. 26, 1997. ZZ Top also got in on the fun with "Tush" and "Legs." 

     

    Oh, the game? The Green Bay Packers beat the New England Patriots 35-21.

    FilmMagic
  • Super Bowl halftime snapshots since 1991

    of

    Queen Latifah, Smokey Robinson

    It was a salute to Motown's 40th anniversary at Super Bowl XXXII in San Diego on Jan. 25, 1998. Queen Latifah, left, and Smokey Robinson, right, joined Boyz II Men, bottom, and Martha Reeves and the Temptations for a celebration of the legendary record company. 

     

    Oh, the game? The Denver Broncos beat the Green Bay Packers 31-24.

    Getty Images file
  • Super Bowl halftime snapshots since 1991

    of

    Stevie Wonder, Gloria Estefan

    Stevie Wonder, left, and Gloria Estefan were part of the Celebration of Soul, Salsa and Swing halftime show at Super Bowl XXXIII at Pro Player Stadium in Miami on Jan. 31, 1999. 

     

    Oh, the game? The Denver Broncos beat the Atlanta Falcons 34-19.

    Getty Images
  • Super Bowl halftime snapshots since 1991

    of

    Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias

    Christina Aguilera and Enrique Iglesias perform "Celebrate the Future Hand in Hand" during halftime of Super Bowl XXIV at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta on Jan. 30, 2000. Phil Collins ("Two Worlds") and Toni Braxton ("We Go On") also sang for the Tapestry of Nations theme. 

     

    Oh, the game? The St. Louis Rams beat the Tennessee Titans 23-16.

    Getty Images
  • MTV Super Bowl Halftime

    Super Bowl halftime snapshots since 1991

    of

    'NSync, Britney Spears, Aerosmith

    Chris Kirkpatrick and Justin Timberlake of 'NSync join Britney Spears and Aerosmith's Joe Perry onstage during MTV's Super Bowl XXXV halftime show at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, on Jan. 28, 2001. 'NSync and Aerosmith traded hits before teaming with Britney for "Walk This Way." 

     

    Oh, the game? The Baltimore Ravens beat the New York Giants 34-7.

    Image Direct via Getty
  • Super Bowl halftime snapshots since 1991

    of

    U2 9/11 memorial

    Bono and Irish rockers U2 performed a stirring tribute to the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVI at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans on Feb. 3, 2002. The band opened with "Beautiful Day" and concluded with "Where the Streets Have No Name" as victims' names scrolled upward on a backdrop. 

     

    Oh, the game? The New England Patriots beat the St. Louis Rams 20-17.

    Getty Images
  • 2003 Super Bowl XXXVII Halftime Show

    Super Bowl halftime snapshots since 1991

    of

    No Doubt, Sting

    Musicians Gwen Stefani of No Doubt and Sting perform during halftime of Super Bowl XXXVII at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego on Jan. 26, 2003. Shania Twain headlined the show, performing "Man! I Feel Like a Woman" and "Up!" No Doubt performed "Just a Girl" and joined Sting for "Message in a Bottle." 

     

    Oh, the game? The Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Oakland Raiders 48-21.

    Getty Images
  • Super Bowl XXXVIII: Panthers v Patriots

    Super Bowl halftime snapshots since 1991

    of

    Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake

    Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake perform during the halftime show at Super Bowl XXXVIII at Reliant Stadium in Houston on Feb. 1, 2004. The "wardrobe malfunction" seen 'round the world featured Timberlake tearing away a piece of Jackson's top to expose part of her breast during "Rock Your Body." The cultural and legal fallout lasted for years. 

     

    Oh, the game? The New England Patriots beat the Carolina Panthers 32-29.

    Getty Images
  • Image: Super Bowl XXXIX Halftime Show

    Super Bowl halftime snapshots since 1991

    of

    Paul McCartney

    Paul McCartney performs during the Super Bowl XXXIX halftime show at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, Fla., on Feb. 6, 2005. The ex-Beatle was the NFL's answer to fallout from Janet Jackson's breast exposure the year before. Sir Paul kept it clean with "Drive My Car," "Get Back," Live and Let Die" and Hey Jude." 

     

    Oh, the game? The New England Patriots beat the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21.

    Getty Images
  • Sprint Super Bowl XL Halftime Show

    Super Bowl halftime snapshots since 1991

    of

    The Rolling Stones

    Musicians Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts and Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones perform during the Super Bowl XL halftime show at Ford Field in Detroit on Feb. 5, 2006. The aged rockers tore through "Start Me Up," "Rough Justice" and "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction." 

     

    Oh, the game? The Pissburgh Steelers beat the Seattle Seahawks 21-10.

    Getty Images
  • Image: Super Bowl XLI: Pepsi Halftime Show

    Super Bowl halftime snapshots since 1991

    of

    Prince

    Prince performs at Sun Life Stadium in Miami for the halftime show at Super Bowl XLI on Feb. 4, 2007. "We Will Rock You," "Let's Go Crazy" and "All Along the Watchtower" were among the songs. He finished with "Purple Rain" in a downpour, his logo-shaped guitar protruding from his hip in an infamous shadow projection. 

     

    Oh, the game? The Indianapolis Colts beat the Chicago Bears 29-17.

    Getty Images
  • Image: Tom Petty

    Super Bowl halftime snapshots since 1991

    of

    Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

    Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers perform at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, on Feb. 3, 2008. The rocker went straight for the classics, playing "American Girl," "I Won't Back Down," "Free Fallin'" and "Runnin' Down a Dream." 

     

    Oh, the game? The New

    AP
  • Bridgestone Super Bowl XLIII Halftime Show

    Super Bowl halftime snapshots since 1991

    of

    Bruce Springsteen

    Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band perform at the halftime show during Super Bowl XLIII at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Feb. 1, 2009. The Boss' setlist included "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," "Born to Run," "Working on a Dream" and "Glory Days." 

     

    Oh, the game? The Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Arizona Cardinals 27-23.

    Getty Images
  • Image: Daltrey and Townshend of The Who perform during NFL Super Bowl XLIV halftime show in Miami

    Super Bowl halftime snapshots since 1991

    of

    The Who

    Roger Daltrey, left, and Pete Townshend of the Who acknowledge the crowd during their halftime show at Super Bowl XLIV in Miami on Feb. 7, 2010. The British rockers performed hits including "Pinball Wizard," Baba O'Riley" and "Won't Get Fooled Again." 

     

    Oh, the game? The New Orleans Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts 31-17.

    Reuters
  • Image: Bridgestone Super Bowl XLV Halftime Show

    Super Bowl halftime snapshots since 1991

    of

    The Black Eyed Peas

    Fergie, left, and apl.de.ap of the Black Eyed Peas perform during the Super Bowl XLV halftime show at Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Feb. 6, 2011. The Peas did their best impression of extras from "Tron" and even trotted out Guns N' Roses guitarist Slash for a little "Sweet Child O' Mine." Usher also joined in the fun. 

     

    Oh, the game? The Green Bay Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25.

    Getty Images
  • Image: Madonna performs during the halftime show in the NFL Super Bowl XLVI football game in Indianapolis

    Super Bowl halftime snapshots since 1991

    of

    Madonna

    Madonna performs during the halftime show for Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis on Feb. 5, 2012. The Material Girl's set included "Give Me All Your Luvin," "Vogue," "Music," "Express Yourself" and "Like a Prayer." She was joined by Nicki Minaj, LMFAO and M.I.A. — who made headlines when she flipped off the camera. 

     

    Oh, the game? The New York Giants beat the New England Patriots 21-17.

    Reuters
  • Image: Pepsi Super Bowl XLVII Halftime Show

    Super Bowl halftime snapshots since 1991

    of

    Beyonce

    Beyonce performs during the Super Bowl XLVII Halftime Show at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. The diva performed "Love On Top," "Crazy in Love," "Baby Boi" and "Till the End of Time." She was joined by former Destiny's Child singers Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams. They together sang "Bootylicious," "Independent Woman Part I" and "Single Ladies." 

    Oh, the game? The Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers 34-31.

    Getty Images
  • Image: File of Bruno Mars performing during the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards in New York

    Super Bowl halftime snapshots since 1991

    of

    Bruno Mars

    Bruno Mars performed the halftime show of Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2, 2014.  Bruno Mars sang alongside his band the Hooligans with special guests the Red Hot Chili Peppers. He performed, "Billionaire," with a children's choir, "Locked out of Heaven," followed by "Treasure," "Runaway Baby," "Give it Away" (featuring The Red Hot Chili Peppers) and "Just the Way You Are," in tribute to the U.S. Armed Forces.

    Oh, the game? The Seattle Seahawks defeated the Denver Broncos 43–8 at the MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.

    Reuters
  • Image: Katy Perry

    Super Bowl halftime snapshots since 1991

    of

    Katy Perry

    The Super Bowl XLIX halftime show took place on Feb. 1, 2015, at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona as part of Super Bowl XLIX. It featured Katy Perry, with singers Lenny Kravitz and Missy Elliott as special guests. Perry's song list included "Roar," Dark Horse," "I Kissed a Girl," (with Lenny Kravitz) "Teenage Dream," California Gurls," "Get Ur Freak On, " with Missy Elliot, and she finished with her anthem, "Firework."

    The halftime show attracted 118.5 million viewers, the largest audience in the history of the Super Bowl.

    Oh, the game?  The New England Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks, 28–24, to earn their fourth Super Bowl title.

     

    AP
Closed Captioning
apply | reset x
font
size
T
T
T
T
color

Coldplay’s Chris Martin: We’re ‘honored’ to play the Super Bowl

Play Video - 0:29

Coldplay’s Chris Martin: We’re ‘honored’ to play the Super Bowl

Play Video - 0:29

More video

TOP