Best of Halftime Shows!
The biggest sporting event of the year and one of the most watched programs of all time is only TWO days away! The biggest football game of the year will be held this Sunday February 4, 2018 in the U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The match of the year will be battled between the Philadelphia Eagles and the best and perhaps most hated team in the NFL (excluding their die-hard fan base of course) the New England Patriots.
However, behind the game, and the long-awaited commercials, the most anticipated moment of the night and of every year is the coveted big game halftime performance. Over the years, some of the most popular and pivotal musicians of their era have dazzled hundreds of thousands of fans at the biggest event of the year. Granted, we may not enjoy the music of all of these artists, but the shows are usually over the top and wildly entertaining.
Up until around the early 90’s most of the halftime shows were performed by high school or college marching bands or by the educational group Up For People. Once the producers and the NFL realized using relevant musicians would garner more views and higher ratings, things changed.
This year, international pop sensation and recovering boy band alumni, Justin Timberlake. This is the third time Justin will be on a halftime show stage. The first was in 2001 with his band NSYNC along with other special guests (keep reading to find out who). The second was in 2004 along with pop icon Janet Jackson. Yes, you know what halftime show I’m referring to. The spectacle which has now somewhat diminished to a “wardrobe malfunction” is probably the most infamous halftime show in history. It certainly is one of the most talked about. Luckily for Timberlake, this incident wasn’t enough to keep him out of another show as he will be the main headliner this year.
In honor of this special event, we will look at a few of the greatest halftime shows throughout the years.
Exactly eleven years ago this big game Sunday, arguably the best halftime show ever was performed by one of the most iconic musicians in any genre, Prince. This year, the game will be held in Prince’s hometown of Minneapolis. The Prince of Funk took the stage on February 4th, 2007. The game and concert were held at the beautiful Dolphin Stadium in Miami, Florida. His 12-minute performance included hit songs like “Proud Mary,” “We Will Rock You,” “All Along The Watch Tower” and peaked at the song “Purple Rain” when a steady stream of “rain” engulfed the field. You really can’t top a Prince show.
ZZ Top/Blues Bros/James Brown (97)
Ok, so this wasn’t necessarily the best halftime performance, it was a little bit of a hodgepodge and somewhat messy. But, this Oscar Meyer-produced show featured the God Father of Funk, the Blues Brothers with Jim Belushi, John Goodman, and Dan Akroyd, and the Texas blues boys ZZ Top. This game was held in the Super Dome in New Orleans. ZZ Top’s performance was the best part of the show, save for the awkward women “dancing” on the stage. The show was just an all-out party with some of the most recognizable acts of the time.
Tom Petty (2008)
Following Prince’s amazing 2007 performance wouldn’t be an easy challenge for any musician. But, the committee easily chose Tom Petty to fill those shoes, and he delivered. The 42nd game was held in Glendale, Arizona and featured the famed match up of the New York Giants and New England Patriots. Petty and his Heartbreakers played some of their classic convertible road trip classics like “American Girl” and “Free Fallin’” to a screaming and delighted audience. Unfortunately, we lost Tom Petty in October 2017, but watching great performances like this keeps his spirit and music alive. RIP Tom!
Bruce Springsteen (2009)
With The Boss’s immense and overwhelming popularity since around the early 70’s, I’m surprised it took that long for Springsteen to head this event. The 43rd game took place in Tampa, Florida at Raymond James Stadium at featured a powerful Bruce Springsteen at the peak of his game. He was able to squeeze the intensity of his full-length show into an incredible twelve-minute slot complete with his all-time greatest hits.
Ella Fitzgerald (1972)
This is more like an honorable mention, because no video is readily available from way back in 1972. For the first 5 halftime shows, there were only marching bands present, which remained until about 1992. However, in 1972, “The First Lady of Jazz” Ella Fitzgerald became the first African American Woman to perform at a halftime show. Really, she was the first well-known musician to perform at the biggest game of the year. This historic moment essentially laid the groundwork to allow artists like Beyonce to headline a halftime show forty-one years later.
Around five months after the most devastating terrorist attack on the United States, the country was still deep in mourning. Everyone needed a moment to relax, unwind, and celebrate America. That moment came at the Superdome in New Orleans in 2002. The halftime show was played by Bono and company to an emotionally charged crowd that really needed the “Beautiful Day.” The concert was a beautiful tribute to those who lost their lives.
The early 2000’s were an interesting time for music, the boyband and pop craze was slowly fading away and classic rock was still holding steady. The halftime show began with Justin Timberlake’s first halftime appearance in his internationally renowned band NSYNC. Then, on the complete opposite side of the spectrum came Aerosmith. If that combo wasn’t strange enough, the two groups combined forces and were joined by the hot pop star Britney Spears and rap star Nelly. Honestly, it wasn’t as bad as it sounds.
Paul McCartney (2005)
After the infamous incident at the 2004 show, they needed someone strong and impactful to change the view of the halftime show. That’s where Beatles founder Paul McCartney comes in. He was the best choice for this situation and put on a stellar performance in Jacksonville, FL. Filled with Beatles classics and some of his originals, the concert was just what it needed to be.
The Rolling Stones (2006)
Nearly forty years after the British blues-rock sensation Rolling Stones began their journey, they were finally asked to perform at the game 40 halftime show. Why it took so long for them to play is a mystery, but the show was an exciting and typical Stones concert that it really doesn’t matter. Playing their hits like “Can’t Get No Satisfaction,” “Start Me Up,” and “You Make a Dead Man,” the long-time rock greats did what they have been doing best for about 56 years!
Michael Jackson (1993)
The King of Pop’s performance in Pasadena, California still remains as one of the great halftime shows of all time. The show was jam packed with nonstop entertainment from start to finish. It even featured the amazing guitarist Jennifer Batten who we discussed in the “Greatest Women In Rock.”