The Super Bowl halftime performance has turned into a cultural phenomenon that even those who don’t watch football tune in. That’s because the halftime show has established itself as a cultural barometer of who’s important in the music scene, allowing them to live out their craziest fantasies on stage. Through the years, we’ve seen Janet Jackson’s slip in 2004, Beyonce’s reunion with the rest of Destiny’s Child in 2013, and Left Shark during Katy Perry’s performance in 2015. But did you know that inviting famous pop stars to perform only started in 1991?
The halftime show has existed since the start of the Super Bowl in 1967, but the performers were usually marching bands from different universities. That changed in 1991, when the organizers invited New Kids on the Block to perform. Since then, it has evolved into the visual extravaganza that we know today.
Below, we list down all the Super Bowl halftime performances since then, from Diana Ross’s helicopter exit to Prince’s spectacular performance in the rain:
1991: New Kids on the Block with Disney characters, Warren Moon, and 2,000 local children
The first Super Bowl halftime show that featured a pop star was in 1991, when they invited boy band New Kids on the Block. They shared the stage with Disney characters and 2,000 children to sing “Step By Step” and “It’s a Small World After All.”
1992: Gloria Estefan with Olympic Figure skaters Brian Boitano and Dorothy Hamill
Gloria Estefan started the long-form Super Bowl halftime performance show, performing for 12 minutes compared to NKotB’s four minutes. This year’s performance was described as “winter magic,” featuring Olympic Figure skaters Brian Boitano & Dorothy Hamill. Estefan sang “Living For Love” and “Get On Your Feet.” The production stepped up, too.
1993: Michael Jackson
Michael Jackson’s performance at the Super Bowl was described as one of the most watched events in American television history, which encouraged producers to invite pop stars to perform. Jackson performed “Jam,” “Billie Jean,” “Black or White,” “We are the World,” and “Heal the World.” He spent one whole minute just standing on stage, reveling in the crowd’s cheers. The King did not disappoint.
1994: Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt, and The Judds
The Super Bowl took a country route in 1994, inviting Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt, and The Judds to perform “Tuckered Out,” “It’s a Little Too Late,” “T-R-O-U-B-L-E,” “No One Else on Earth,” and “Love Can Build a Bridge.”
1995: Patti Labelle, Indiana Jones & Marion Ravenwood, Teddy Pendergrass, Tony Bennett, Arturo Sandoval, Miami Sound Machine
The 1995 Super Bowl performance was more of a theater play, featuring shirtless dancers, a ninja, spikes, what looked like a sacrifice, offering to the gods, and Indiana Jones flying in via parachute.
1996: Diana Ross
After the unusual halftime performance with Patti Labelle, Super Bowl made up for it with Diana Ross, who performed 10 songs, including “Stop in the Name of Love” and “I Will Survive.” She flies to the stage on a platform with fireworks, has tons of outfit changes (including a cape that covers the entire stage), and exits via helicopter, sitting on the edge as if she were on a park bench.
1997: The Blues Brothers (Dan Aykroyd, John Goodman and James Belushi), ZZ Top, James Brown, and Catherine Crier
1997 was an unusual year for Super Bowl, as it invited The Blues Brothers, who aren’t technically singers. They were saved by James Brown, who sang “I Got You (I Feel Good)” and “Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine;” and ZZ Top, who performed “Tush” and “Legs.”
1998: Boyz II Men, Smokey Robinson, Martha Reeves, The Temptations, and Queen Latifah
The 1998 Super Bowl halftime performance was a tribute to 47 years of Motown, with The Temptations performing “Get Ready” and “I Can’t Help Myself.” Boyz II Men closed the show with “Motownphilly” and “A Song For Mama.”
1999: Gloria Estefan, Stevie Wonder, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and Savion Glover
Gloria Estefan returns to the Super Bowl, this time with Stevie Wonder, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, and Savion Glover. The performance was themed soul, salsa, and swing, and featured stilts, vintage cars, and sexy music.
2000: Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, and Toni Braxton
To open the millennium, Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, and Toni Braxton performed a Circue du Soleil style performance sponsored by Disney. To be honest it reminds us of The Lion King.
2001: Aerosmith, NSYNC, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, and Nelly
The 2001 Super Bowl halftime performance was the most ’90s thing to have ever happened: Aerosmith, NSYNC, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, and Nelly performing “Bye Bye Bye,” “I Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing,” and “It’s Gonna Be Me.”
U2’s performance at the Super Bowl halftime show was a tribute to those who passed away in the September 11 attacks, with the band performing “Beautiful Day,” “MLK,” and “Where the Streets Have No Name,” while the names of those who died were shown on a large banner.
2003: Shania Twain, No Doubt, and Sting
The 2003 Super Bowl halftime show had a curious setlist: Shania Twain opened the show singing “Man! I Feel like a Woman!,” followed by No Doubt singing “I’m Just a Girl.” Sting joined them for the final number, “Message in a Bottle.”
2004: Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Jessica Simpson, Kid Rock, Nelly, and P. Diddy
2004 is when it all went down: Janet Jackson was having fun on stage, sharing it with Justin Timberlake, Jessica Simpson, Kid Rock, Nelly, and P. Diddy. She looked like she was having a great time, singing “All For You,” “Rhythm Nation,” and “Rock Your Body.” Then that happened.
Watch out for part two!
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