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

Oh, yeah, there was that whole "wardrobe malfunction" thing, too.
/ Source: TODAY

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, 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)

Bridgestone Super Bowl XLIII Halftime Show
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 SpringsteenJamie Squire / Getty Images

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)

Bridgestone Super Bowl XLVI Halftime Show
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 *** MadonnaAl Bello / Getty Images

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)

Beyonce, Kelly Rowland, Michelle Williams
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)Gerald Herbert / AP

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)

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)AP

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)

Bruno Mars
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)Paul Sancya / AP

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)

Michael Jackson
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)Rusty Kennedy / AP

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)

Image: Katy Perry
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)David J. Phillip / AP

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)

Super Bowl XLI: Pepsi Halftime Show
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 *** PrinceJed Jacobsohn / Getty Images

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)

Superbowl XXXVI  X
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 ImagesGetty 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)

Janet Jackson Justin Timberlake
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)AP

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 writer Chris Serico on Twitter.

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