Sometimes the Super Bowl halftime show is wilder than the actual game. From wardrobe malfunctions and uncoordinated dancers dressed as sharks to superstars jumping from the roof and surprise celebrity appearances, a lot can go down in the short break between halves.
Maroon 5 is headlining this year’s show and will feature Travis Scott and Big Boi. But here’s a look back at some of the most memorable halftime shows in Super Bowl history.
Michael Jackson changes halftime forever
We have to thank the King of Pop for making halftime shows the over-the-top productions that we expect today. During his 1993 performance at the Super Bowl in Pasadena, California, Michael Jackson immediately grabbed the audience’s attention by standing completely still in silence on stage for nearly two minutes. He then performed a mashup of his hits, including “Billie Jean,” and ended the show with “Heal the World” alongside hundreds of children who rushed on stage.
Prince sings “Purple Rain” in a rain storm
As rain poured down on Miami’s stadium in 2007, Prince commanded the stage, dancing around on the slick surface and playing four different electric guitars. Before the show, he reportedly asked the production crew if they could “make it rain harder.” Prince not only performed his beloved hits – including “Purple Rain” – but also played covers of Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” “Proud Mary” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, a medley of “All Along the Watchtower” by Bob Dylan and Foo Fighters’ “Best of You.”
Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction”
It has become the most infamous halftime show of all time.
We all know the story: 2004. Houston, Texas. Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson. An exposed breast. 140 million television viewers. A whole lot of controversy. Fourteen years later, Timberlake returned to headline the Super Bowl 52 halftime show, but without Jackson.
Left shark steals Katy Perry’s show
As Katy Perry performed her hit song “Teenage Dream” on the Super Bowl stage in 2015, she was joined by two dancing sharks.
The shark on the right clearly knew all the dance moves. The shark on the left… not so much. “Left shark,” as he was called in viral, online memes, flailed his flippers and seemed to forget that he was dancing next to a pop star and being watched by millions of people worldwide. Turns out, the seemingly random moves were all planned. One of Perry’s dancers, Bryan Gaw, finally fessed up to being left shark.
He told NPR in 2018 that he was playing a character – “I'm in a 7-foot blue shark costume. There's no cool in that.” So he decided to be a little goofy, and his movements turned out looking extra-goofy on the huge stage.
Beyoncé and Bruno Mars crash Coldplay’s performance
For Super Bowl 50, there had to be an epic halftime.
It was supposed to be Coldplay’s show. But then Beyoncé and Bruno Mars showed up. Bruno Mars kicked off his performance during the 2016 Super Bowl in Santa Clara, California, with his hit “Uptown Funk.” Then Beyoncé entered the stadium with an entourage of backup dancers dressed in black and gold, singing “Formation.” Beyoncé and her crew had a dance-off with Bruno Mars, and if you watch the video, it’s clear Queen Bey won.
Lady Gaga jumps from the roof
After singing a medley of “God Bless America” and “This Land is Your Land” with hundreds of drones creating an American flag behind her, Lady Gaga appeared to jump from the roof of NRG Stadium in Houston. She then floated into the stadium and started singing “Poker Face.” The whole performance was impressive, but she didn’t actually jump from the roof. The beginning segment with the drones was prerecorded, and during the live set, she was lowered down from the roof by harnesses.