Is there anything more instantly iconic than a Super Bowl halftime show? Ever since the ’90s – that’s when network executives started bringing on pop stars at halftime to ensure no-one switched channels – the performances have been wild, excessive tributes to the American way. Here are 20 of the most memorable to get you hyped up for the upcoming one...
21. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (2008)
Petty’s 2008 halftime show was considered to be a bit safe and sedate, but that didn’t stop it from being also, you know, really good. He did all his biggest hits: “American Girl,” “Free Fallin’,” “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” and of course “I Won’t Back Down.” During that last one, the audience were passionately singing along.
Sadly the world lost Petty in 2017, when he passed away at the age of just 66. During the tributes to him many remembered his career-defining performance at the Super Bowl. That had been an event which featured the famous “helmet” catch from David Tyree of the New York Giants and yet Petty had been just as much the star of the show.
20. Paul McCartney (2005)
Everyone remembers what happened at the Super Bowl halftime show in 2004. That infamous “wardrobe malfunction” caused absolute chaos. So the following year the very uncontroversial Paul McCartney was chosen for the halftime show (and presumably his outfit was checked and double-checked.) But you don’t need to be shocking to put on a good performance.
McCartney did everything asked of him and more. He played through his greatest hits with LED lights flickering all around him, fans raised their own lights once “Hey Jude” got started, and very few people went away disappointed in the end. The stage may have been X-shaped, but absolutely nothing was X-rated.