NFL: The 10 Most Memorable Halftime Shows in History

Brandon Galvin@bgny3Featured ColumnistMay 10, 2011

NFL: The 10 Most Memorable Halftime Shows in History

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    HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 1:  Singers Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake perform during the halftime show at Super Bowl XXXVIII between the New England Patriots and the Carolina Panthers at Reliant Stadium on February 1, 2004 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Do
    Donald Miralle/Getty Images

    Every football fan hates it—halftime.

    We cringe every time knowing the first half of action is over and we have to sit there waiting impatiently for the action to resume.

    Usually, we use this extended break to use the restroom, re-up on the food and drinks, stretch and toss the pigskin in the street or backyard.

    Over the past 20 years, though, the Super Bowl halftime show has become a big deal in the entertainment world. With all eyes watching, it is an honor for musicians to be part of the halftime show for the biggest sporting event of the year.

    We all remember where we were when Janet Jackson decided to let Justin Timberlake expose her to the world. I was playing football in the street—good thing the Internet was working that night!

    The Super Bowl is the home of the greatest halftime shows. Here are the top 10 most memorable shows in NFL history.

10. The Rolling Stones, Super Bowl XL

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    The Rolling Stones are one of the greatest acts in music history. They can rock a crowd like no other. In Detroit, with a fantastic stage, they performed their hits "Start Me Up," "Rough Justice" and the classic "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction."

    Although the music did not represent the city of Detroit (where was Eminem to perform "Lose Yourself" and "8 Mile Road?") the Stones still put on a great show as usual.

    This time, though, with a five-second delay, ABC actually censored lead singer Mick Jagger at the end of "Start Me Up" and during "Rough Justice," as the lyrics were too sexual.

9. Diana Ross, Super Bowl XXX

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    Diana Ross is not just one of the great female singers of all time, but one of the greatest singers of all time.

    As the NFL celebrated 30 strong years of the Super Bowl, Ross performed just about every hit in the book, including "I Will Survive" and "Take Me Higher."

    As much as it pains us to see her leave, the highlight of the show wasn't the pyro, but the helicopter that lifted her away from us.

    Ladies and gentlemen, we have liftoff!

8. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Super Bowl XLIII

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    All hail the Boss!

    Not many know how to work a crowd like Bruce Springsteen, displayed by his interaction with the crowd.

    With the E Street Band behind him, the Boss was ready to take center stage. You could feel his excitement throughout the performance, highlighted by his uncontrollable slide down the stage.

    Springsteen performed "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," "Born to Run," "Working on a Dream" and "Glory Days."

7. The Who, Super Bowl XLIV

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    Despite not having a crowd around them, The Who performed on an amazing stage with fantastic lighting and pyro creating the atmosphere.

    CBS, which aired the Super Bowl that year, were smart enough to get The Who to perform at halftime and play songs also used for a few of their hit TV shows.

    The all-time great band performed "Pinball Wizard," "Baba O'Riley," "Who Are You," "See Me, Feel Me" and "Won't Get Fooled Again."

6. Aerosmith, Super Bowl XXXV

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    The show started off with a hilarious skit featuring Chris Rock, Ben Stiller and "The Super Group."

    Aerosmith brought an entourage of pop culture icons at the time to help them perform at the halftime show en route to one of the most entertaining performances of all time.

    'N Sync, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige and Nelly aided the legendary rock band for the night as they sang "Walk This Way."

    Other songs performed at the event included "Jaded," "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing," "Bye Bye Bye" and "It's Gonna Be Me."

5. Paul McCartney, Super Bowl XXXIX

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    In wake of the Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction, Paul McCartney was deemed a "safe" choice to represent at the halftime show.

    Regardless of the reasoning behind the move, he was a fantastic choice.

    In the presence of a true legend, everyone ate up the McCartney performance, as he performed hits "Drive My Car," "Get Back," "Live and Let Die" and my personal favorite of the bunch, "Hey Jude."

4. Prince, Super Bowl XLI

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    Prince was accompanied by incredible lighting effects and, of course, the rain that made his performance so memorable.

    His glow-in-the-dark marching band, stage and audience were even able to highlight Prince, who already commands the stage with his aura.

    He performed "We Will Rock You," "Let's Go Crazy," "Baby, I'm a Star," "Proud Mary," "All Along the Watchtower," "Best of You" and finally capped the performance with his hit "Purple Rain."

    The show was, of course, highlighted by the controversy regarding Prince's phallic if people didn't know this was going to make an appearance.

3. Michael Jackson, Super Bowl XXVII

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    Arguably the greatest entertainer ever, it was only fitting for Michael Jackson to bless the greatest sporting event ever.

    Jackson, with the help of a choir made up of thousands of children, sang the song "We Are the World."

    He also performed other classics "Jam," "Billie Jean" and "Black and White."

2. U2, Super Bowl XXXVI

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    U2's performance is extremely memorable, as it was the first Super Bowl halftime show following the tragic terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 on the United States.

    As the legendary rock band performed "Beautiful Day," "MLK" and "Where the Streets Have No Name," names of victims lost during the attacks scrolled across the screen. 

    It was easily the most emotional halftime performance of all time, capped off by lead singer Bono revealing the red, white and blue stripes of the American flag printed inside his jacket.

1. Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake, Super Bowl XXXVIII

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    Easily the most controversial halftime performance of all time, this performance is still talked about to this very day. Every time you think "halftime show," you have to think about Super Bowl XXXVIII.

    We don't even care about the other performers or which songs they sang. The only thing we care about is how the show ended.

    This was the jaw-dropping performance that saw Justin Timberlake rip off a piece of Janet Jackson's costume to reveal her breast with a star-shaped ring around her nipple. 

    It wouldn't be too difficult to top the controversial performance, but don't expect it to happen as the NFL and networks search for "safe" performances in light of this groundbreaking event.


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