Ranking the Past 20 Halftime Shows from Best to Worst
Super Bowl LV has concluded. The confetti has dropped. The stats have been entered into the record books. Was it a super spreader event? Too early to call. In a shocking twist, Tom Brady won another super bowl ring, who could have seen that coming? To be frank, the game was hard to watch, so instead of recapping a blowout that never felt close, let’s revisit the halftime performance and see where it stacks up.
The Weeknd writes what can best be described as pop music for ghosts to do cocaine to. It’s the perfect music to party to if you’re really sad. It’s an odd choice for a superbowl halftime show, but much better than a lot of the other acts Pepsi has wrangled up in past years.
So while the rest of the internet argues about whether or not Tampa Tom is the GOAT, let’s give a definitive ranking of the past 20 halftime shows for the big game.
1 — Prince (2007)
Pouring rain. Giant silk sheet. Prince.
2 — Katy Perry (2015)
She rode a giant lion into the stadium and was supported by Lenny Kravitz and Missy Elliot. Closing with “Firework” also always kills.
3 — Beyonce
And a Destiny’s Child reunion to boot.
4 — Bruno Mars
Who doesn’t enjoy listening to a little Hawaiian man sing about love? Red Hot Chilli Peppers were a welcome addition, too.
5 — Lady Gaga
Probably the second best entrance to a halftime show.
6 — Shakira and J Lo (2020)
¡Jeb! Bush’s favorite halftime show.
7 — U2 (2002)
Beautiful Day was what we needed to hear in a post 9/11 World.
8 — The Weeknd (2021)
Incorporating masks and social distancing into the art style will help this age well.
9 — Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Kid Rock, Jessica Simpson, Nelly, P. Diddy [AKA Titty Halftime Show] (2004)
Definitely the most infamous one. Bonus points for Janet Jackson’s breast, but loses points for being associated with Kid Rock.
10 — Paul McCartney (2005)
He’s a Beatle, automatic top 10.
11 — Madonna (2012)
Lots of special guests, including Cirque du Solei.
12 — The Rolling Stones (2006)
Mick Jagger puts in way more effort than probably any other man on this list. Kudos to him.
13 — Bruce Springsteen (2009)
Would have been way higher up the list if it was at the Meadowlands or if the Giants were playing.
14 — Justin Timberlake (2018)
Weird Prince hologram, but “Cry Me a River”, ya know?
15 — Coldplay (2016)
This one receives too much hate. Solid cameos from past performers Beyonce and Bruno Mars.
16 — Shania Twain & No Doubt
Probably the weirdest pairing, including special guest, Sting.
17 — Tom Petty (2008)
Decent set, but kinda forgettable.
18 — The Who (2010)
The most “old man” feeling of the “old man” halftime shows.
19 — Maroon 5 (2019)
Adam Levine has a lot of generic tattoos, but at least Big Boi and British rap icon, Travis Scott, saved the day.
20 — The Black Eyed Peas (2011)
Not even Usher could save us from too much Fergie.