The Best Part of the Super Bowl Experience is Halftime!
There are a great many people who will tell you that the only time they rush to their television sets during the Super Bowl broadcast is when they are expecting to see the ‘best of the best’ perform live on stage. Another large group will tell you that the only thing they’re waiting to see during the Super Bowl are the Budweiser Clydesdales and what they’re going to do this year to take the viewer’s breath away. Or, perhaps it will be Betty White eating a Snickers that will have viewers rolling on the floor with laughter. But, let’s face it, without the halftime show some of the past Super Bowls would have been nothing more than a really dull game. I mean really. When the score is 40-0, it’s not a big shocker as to what team is going to win, but the halftime show is more than likely going to provide something truly memorable.
It is amazing to note that for the very first Super Bowl, the star of the halftime show was the University of Arizona, Grambling State Marching Band. Yup, halftime shows from the outrageously funny to the outrageously boring began with this marching band that took the field for Super Bowl I – which didn’t come close to being a sell-out, by the way, and wasn’t even called the “Super Bowl.” But for seven of the first eight Super Bowls ever played, marching bands were the highlight of the evening, which is why they make our list of the best halftime shows.
There are many lists like this one, and although most agree, others do not (like us). So today we are breaking down the best halftime shows ever presented (at least, the ones we agree on.)
It was in 1988 at Super Bowl XXII that the immortal Chubby Checker joined the legendary, Rockettes, to put on a show that included eighty-eight grand pianos. Even though Chubby’s hit song, The Twist, had not been exactly popular for quite some time, the crowd totally got into the oldies, as The Rockettes did what they do best!
Mick Jagger is always headline news, and the Super Bowl XL committee did a fantastic job of bringing him to their stage. In fact, they even increased the size of the stage, which was created to look like the Stones’ trademark “lip/tongue logo.” But it was not the thrilling stage, or even the memorable music that brought this halftime show to life, it was the fact that the world was watching a sixty-two-year-old Jagger strut his stuff just as well as he did thirty years before – perhaps better. It was also, hysterically, when ABC introduced the first ever ‘five-second delay,’ allowing the censors to cut ‘offensive’ lines from two of the three songs. Come on, guys – it’s Mick Jagger for ****‘* sake. The crowd needed the ultimate “Satisfaction,” and they got it in spades.
Super Bowl XXX gave the world the ‘Diva Extraordinaire.” Diana Ross is the Queen of her time period, but the singer still has it and still makes sure that she puts on a perfect show, with four costume changes completed as she sang lines from her classic hits. Not to mention, this woman knows how to make an entrance, a performance, and most definitely an exit – considering that when she was done Ms. Ross hopped into a helicopter, swung her legs out the side and flew off into the sunset, singing “Take Me Higher.” When you got it – flaunt it!
In Super Bowl XXXV, every genre of music lover was entranced and fully sated with the culmination of the legendary Aerosmith, a little pop from N’Sync and Britney Spears, and a good solid hit of hip-hop provided by Nelly. These genres collided when MTV decided to produce a show that no one would ever forget. Although N’Sync and Aerosmith headlined, the true memorable moment came when the closing number – which is still the most popular song in history – was taken on by Aerosmith and the others singing, “Walk This Way.” Frankly…MTV would’ve been better off allowing Aerosmith and Run-DMC to do this famous duet, but we can’t have everything.
One of the most stunning halftime shows had nothing to do with fireworks or disco balls or neon lights of any kind. Super Bowl XXXII gave the world a tribute to Motown’s ‘best,’ to mark their 40th anniversary. The Temptations appeared first and Smokey Robinson followed. When Queen Latifah joined in and sang the perennially popular, “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” the crowd went nuts, as Boyz II Men then popped up from under the stage and sang “Motown Philly.” “Dancing in the Streets” was the grand finale to this seriously ‘grand’ performance.
Super Bowl XXXVIII is the halftime show that certainly was not highly-rated for the singing or the performance; it appears on most lists just because of the faux pas that occurred that no one can seem to forget. Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake took the stage, but Jessica Simpson, Nelly, P. Diddy and Kid Rock also performed. Why are these stars omitted when speaking about this show? Simple. Janet Jackson’s wardrobe “malfunctioned” when Justin Timberlake ripped off part of Jackson’s outfit (which he was supposed to do, by the way) at the end of the song, “Rock Your Body.” Either he ripped a bit too hard, or her “star” wasn’t glued on correctly (ouch), because her bare breast was revealed on national television, creating a widespread debate and a major crackdown on indecency in broadcasting. “Nipplegate” became the reason why MTV was banned from producing any future halftime shows, and why CBS had to pay an exorbitant fine of $550,000. Although, if you ask most of the male viewers, they will say that MTV offered the best halftime show in the history of the NFL.
Prince! Whether he was currently known as or formerly known as at the time, he appeared as the one and only performer for the Super Bowl XLI halftime extravaganza. The 1980s icon offered a stellar show, beginning with his ever-popular song, “Let’s Go Crazy.” “Along The Watchtower,” “Proud Mary,” and the Foo Fighters’ “Best Of You” was sung by the noble performer until he ended it all with the most notable song he ever sang – “Purple Rain.” Oddly enough a downpour began, but it did nothing to dampen Prince’s performance. His hair and colorful outfit stayed intact, and fans were inspired.
The most heartbreakingly beautiful halftime show occurred during Super Bowl XXXVI. Only months after the September 11th terrorist attacks, people across the globe were still in a state of pain – still trying to figure out the how’s and why’s of what had happened in our country. U2 came on stage and delivered an amazing tribute to America and the victims of 9/11, opening their performance with “Beautiful Day,” and concluding with the most intense and stunning rendition of their hit song, “Where the Streets Have No Name.” The 9/11 victims’ names scrolled on a towering backdrop behind the incredible band, and the end featured Bono opening his jacket to reveal a stars-and-stripes lining. The whole stadium erupted, and at home, everyone screamed out for their country. All of us came together to make sure that 9/11 would never be forgotten, and we would carry on no matter what enemy attempted to stop us.
There is a great deal of back and forth between U2’s performance and this final one that we have ranked as the ‘best.’ Although Bono’s halftime show was beyond moving, beyond thrilling, it was Super Bowl XXVII that most people will forever remember. A star that was larger than life, and one that we thought would be around for a very long time took the stage.
In 1993, Michael Jackson was the King of Pop – a title he would carry for the rest of his days on this earth and far into the afterlife. Moonwalking through smoke and incredible pyrotechnics, Jackson gave the world everything from “Billie Jean” to “Black and White.” This consummate performer was surrounded by children as he offered his final song, “Heal the World.” This was the very first time that NBC aired the entire halftime performance live, and from then on no network would ever ‘cut away’ from the show again. This was a true star who was far mightier than any Super Bowl ever played.
The NFL has confirmed that the headliner for the 2012 Super Bowl will be yet another 80’s icon – Madonna. You never know what to expect from this “Material Girl,” and no matter how old she gets, she will always be the woman who did it best. (No. Lady Gaga is simply a bad imitation…sorry). The costumes, the performances, the ‘snub’ at society – and people like Dan Rather – Madonna represents a time period, like Prince and Michael Jackson, where the world was happier. Music was fun, life was good, 9/11 hadn’t occurred and Americans all seemed to get along with one another. Perhaps Madonna can be the catalyst who restores that camaraderie and kindness. I truly hope so, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
Until Next Time, Everybody.