I’m going to preface this by referencing the “modern era” only because it wasn’t until the early 90’s when the halftime show began to feature pop music acts in an attempt to boost viewership (and sponsorship opportunities).
(Fun Fact: The Grambling State University Marching Band has performed at the most Super Bowl halftime shows (6).)
So for the purposes of the conversation, I’m going to limit my choices to the modern era (early 90’s and beyond).
My top 5 Super Bowl Halftime performances of the Modern Era:
5. Michael Jackson-1993 (I include it mainly because it’s just so odd! He pretty much just stands there for a couple of minutes before he starts “singing”.
It’s heavily lip synced, but it’s the performance that made the halftime performance a coveted spot with the really big stars who would follow his lead. Would have preferred more of his real hits (From “Thriller” and “Bad”) and less of the syrupy ballads that marked his work at the time )
4.) Bruce Springsteen-2009 (Would have been higher, but as a confirmed Springsteen fanatic, I had to deduct points for including a medley of hits.)
3.) Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake, etc-2004 (Not my favorite performance by any stretch, but come on… “wardrobe malfunction” became a permanent part of our culture that day.)
2.) Bruno Mars-2014 (The best “show” in the sense that he didn’t miss a beat. I would actually have preferred less of the Red Hot Chili Peppers & more Bruno. He was a star beforehand, but he left the stage a SUPERstar.)
1.) U2-2002 (The first Super Bowl post 9-11. Forget the Super Bowl, this is one of the most powerful and emotional performances in ANY venue…by the only band who could pull it off.)
Honorable Mention: Prince (2007), Paul McCartney (2005)
Apologies to two of my favorite bands of all-time, The Rolling Stones and The Who, but their performances just didn’t translate to the format in my opinion.
That’s my top 5. How about yours?