The Super Bowl is this weekend, and we’re all dying to know what the halftime show is going to be like. (By which we mean, a barrage of marketing gimmicks will force us to find out what the halftime show is like, and there’s a chance we might die.) So for Throwback Thursday, we’re looking back on some of the more memorable performances in Super Bowl halftime history.
No matter what we tell ourselves, Super Bowl halftime shows are rarely important. They’re sort of on par with Grammy performances in that they typically bring together two or three not very similar artists who come out on stage and … do some stuff … and then there are fireworks and then it’s over. No matter what kind of dessert Katy Perry comes dressed as on Sunday, chances are it’ll only be a dim memory by next year. There’s only one halftime show that can truly be described as iconic, only one that left any kind of lasting mark on the culture. That show, of course, is the Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake extravaganza of 2004.
Janet opens the show by lip syncing her way through a perfectly acceptable medley of her hits “All for You” and “Rhythm Nation.” Then she’s joined by Justin Timberlake who performs a rendition of his song “Rock Your Body.” While delivering the climactic line “Gonna have you naked by the end of this song,” Timberlake “accidentally” tore off a piece of Jacksons’s top, baring her right breast on live TV and exposing millions of football fans to nearly three seconds of unblurred boob. Thankfully, Middle America survived the ordeal. While this was obviously a stunt designed to shock and surprise, you have to hand it to them. The incident not only made a Super Bowl halftime show momentarily interesting, it also added a valuable phrase to the cultural lexicon. This was the day that “wardrobe malfunction” was born, and where would be without that?
It’s hard for me to pick my favorite Super Bowl halftime moment, because unless I really care about the performer, I flip over to watch the greatest annual halftime spectacle of them all: the Animal Planet Puppy Bowl! Putting forth the cutest puppies that they can wrangle up, Animal Planet claims there is an objective, but mostly it’s just lil’ balls of fur tussling, yawning, or just plain being cute. While the clips on actual Puppy Bowls are hard to find on YouTube, this video is an impressive representation of what your average Puppy Bowl entails. Still, it would have been great to have some clean Puppy Bowl VI footage, where Yums out of OKC was the star player that year …
No lineup of the most memorable halftime shows would be complete without this knockout performance from Beyonce and Destiny’s Child in 2013. (Mmmmmm, “mental poison.”) Just … good luck, Katy Perry. Good. Luck.
Easily considered one of the worst halftime shows in Super Bowl history, the Black Eyed Peas put on an incredibly lackluster performance that could barely cobble together all of the elements that made up this shitshow. Easily the best moment was when Usher got on stage, only to have will.i.am ruin it by poorly attempting to act as his hypeman.
If anything, this performance can serve as a reminder that if you want a Tron-themed show, maybe you should use the guys who actually created the soundtrack (Daft Punk) instead of the guy who steals from them.
Tell us about your favorite Super Bowl halftime moments in the comments below.