Super Bowl halftime performances are a popular spectacle in American society. If an artist clinches the halftime show, it essentially means they’ve made it. They’re representing what’s popular in the country at the time. It’s a big honor. The biggest artists have been part of this event.
For the sake of context for those unfamiliar with this event, I wanted to give a little history. The Super Bowl is the annual championship game of the National Football League. It has served as the final game of every NFL season since 1966, replacing the NFL Championship Game. The game almost always takes place on a Sunday in February. Adding a show at halftime serves as the event’s fundamental link to pop culture. This facet of the event helps broaden the television audience and nationwide interest. Originally, the halftime show didn’t feature pop artists, but traditional university marching bands, drill teams, and other performance ensembles.
Fun fact: The Grambling State University Marching Band has performed at the most Super Bowl halftime shows, featuring in six shows including at least one per decade from the 1960s to the 1990s.
Starting in 1991, the halftime show began to feature pop music acts such as New Kids on the Block and Gloria Estefan. Adding pop music performances helped increase the viewership and it became a hyped-up show that people looked forward to tuning in for every year. Some people (including me) tune into the Super Bowl just to watch the Halftime Show. Another interesting fact is that the most-watched halftime show on network broadcast was The Super Bowl XLIX halftime show starring Katy Perry with a TV audience of 118.5 million in 2015. Her show may not have made my list, but it’s interesting to know that hers was the most viewed (The J.Lo, Shakira show holds the most YouTube views).
This year’s Super Bowl is special for us personally because after 33 years, our hometown team, the Cincinnati Bengals, are headed to the Super Bowl, and we couldn’t be happier for them! As we edge closer to the historical 2022 Super Bowl, I wanted to look back on some of my favorite Super Bowl halftime shows. Will this year’s measure up? We’ll have to wait and see!
Super Bowl Halftime Show 2001
This is such an interesting one to look back on because of the variety of big artists they threw together. The theme this year was “The Kings of Rock and Pop.” The 2001 halftime show featured ‘N Sync, Nelly, Aerosmith, Britney Spears, and Mary J Blige. The performance first began going back and forth between ‘N Sync and Aerosmith. Each group alternated, performing two songs on their own before they came together to sing “Walk This Way” which is where the other artists came in for guest appearances. First, Britney Spears sang with Stephen Tyler while Mary J. Blige appeared with ‘N Sync. I think this one is amazing because of the time these artists came together. Both ‘N Sync and Spears were at the top of their game in 2001, and to bring them together with a classic artist like Aerosmith...genius. I love it, even if it is a little chaotic at times.
Super Bowl Halftime Show 2007
There are some artists that cannot be touched, who go down in history as one of the greats. Prince is most certainly one of those greats. This performance is simply incredible. From the way he commands the stage, to the incredible guitar solos, to the way he commands the audience with untouchable charisma and confidence, his halftime show was unforgettable. Other halftime shows used multiple artists to draw viewers in, but Prince was big enough on his own to command the attention of everyone in that stadium. It rained on this Super Bowl, and as the game neared closer, workers setting up the halftime show were worried that Prince wouldn’t want to perform in the rain. But to their surprise, he looked up at the sky and wondered aloud, “Do you think you can get it to rain harder?” Despite the rain making the stage slippery, Prince and his backup performers made it look dry as can be as they maintained their choreography with precision. There’s nothing like seeing Prince perform “Purple Rain” in the rain.