Super Bowl: Half-time highs

Super Bowl Sunday is almost upon us.

As well as a tantalising match-up between Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos to look forward to, as always the half-time entertainment will be high on the agenda.

Coldplay have their chance this time around, but will their efforts match-up with our top five performances?

Katy Perry

Perhaps a somewhat surprising pick in the top five half-time shows, but be honest with yourselves, who didn’t enjoy Perry’s powerful performance from last year’s Super Bowl? It was somewhat lacking in subtlety, entering the stadium as she did riding atop a massive mechanical lion, during her opening number ‘Roar’, and bowing out with a literal bang as fireworks accompanied her closer, ‘Firework’.

Just in case

But throw in a couple more hits from the catalogue, a costume change or two and some cameos from Lenny Kravitz, Missy Elliott, and a certain dancing ‘left shark’, and you have a thoroughly entertaining fifteen minutes on your hands. No? Still not convinced? Just me then.


Much like Perry, Prince’s performance at Super Bowl 41 in 2007 was very literal too, although unintentionally so, closing with the epic ‘Purple Rain’ during a torrential downpour in the Miami setting.

Just in case

As well as further hits of his own – ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ and ‘Baby, I’m a Star’ – Prince’s setlist featured a who’s who of classic rock covers, including Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’, Foo Fighters’ ‘Best of You’, Creedence Clearwater Revival’s ‘Proud Mary’, and Bob Dylan’s ‘All Along the Watchtower’. What’s not to like?


With the world rocked after the tragic event of September 11, 2001, the half-time show at Super Bowl 36 less than five months later, took on greater emotional and cultural significance. Shouldering that responsibility were U2, with Janet Jackson, who was originally booked in, stepping aside – probably for the best given her half-time efforts a couple of years later, but more on that in a bit.

Just in case

U2 lifted things with a spirited rendition of ‘Beautiful Day’, before dedicating an emotionally-charged performance of ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ to the victims of the September 11 attacks, whose names were projected onto a screen behind the stage, Bono opening his jacket at the end to reveal the American flag printed into the lining.

Bruce Springsteen

Notorious for his concerts running over due to his evergreen, energetic performances, there was a worry the football would be forgotten once Springsteen took to the stage at Super Bowl 43. That wasn’t quite the case as the Pittsburgh Steelers clash with the Arizona Cardinals would prove to be one of the best season finale’s in recent memories, but The Boss’ interval efforts more than matched up.

Just in case

While top tracks ‘Glory Days’ and ‘Born to Run’ were obvious high notes, let’s be honest, there is really just one thing the show will be remembered for, and that’s Springsteen sliding straight into a camera as he literally tore into his opening number, ‘Tenth Avenue Freeze Out’. He recovered – albeit somewhat gingerly – gave a sheepish grin, and then rocked out, before hopefully giving his knees a good icing afterwards.

Michael Jackson

He is the King of Pop for a reason. Jackson was largely responsible for the birth of another modern-day musical movement, the Super Bowl half-time show. Before Jackson’s efforts at Super Bowl 27 in 1993, the game break mostly was a showcase for novelty variety acts and college marching bands.

Just in case

Jackson changed all that, making quite the entrance, shooting up from under the stage, then standing motionless for a minute while the 100,000 strong crowd at the Rose Bowl in Los Angeles screamed in adoration. He launched into hits ‘Billie Jean’, and ‘Black or White’ and ended things with ‘Heal the World’, as the world watched on – it was the first Super Bowl where the audience figures actually increased during the half-time show. His sister had a go a couple of decades later, with her efforts no doubt memorable, but for a very different reason.