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Super Bowl Halftime Shows, Ranked

The best of the biggest

Doriean Stevenson
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Who gave us the BEST Super Bowl halftime show?

Sure, there's a game and all. But the halftime show is always a star-studded big deal. We've seen everything from New Kids on the Block to Bruce Springsteen and everything in between, but what was the absolute most incredible halftime show of all time?

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26. Super Bowl XXV: New Kids on the Block

Decades ago, each Super Bowl halftime show came complete with a theme. In 1991, the theme was "A Small World: Celebrating 25 Years of the Super Bowl" and the artist was -- drumroll, please -- New Kids on the Block. Yep. What a difference another 26 years makes.

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25. Super Bowl XLV: Black Eyed Peas, Usher, Slash

Everyone thought throwing The Black Eyed Peas on stage with Usher would ignite any Super Bowl party. Then Slash showed up to add fuel to the fire. Whether you were a fan or not, the Slash and Fergie "Sweet Child O' Mine" performance was definitely one for the books.

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24. Super Bowl XLVI: Madonna

Was it a circus? Was it a marching band? Was it a Madonna army complete with acrobatic soldiers? We're still unsure. LMFAO, Cirque du Soleil, Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. backed up Madge for perhaps the most chaotic halftime show ever. There was so much going on that you may have missed M.I.A.'s inappropriate hand gesture.

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23. Super Bowl XXXI: The Blues Brothers, ZZ Top and James Brown

Super Bowl XXXI had the blues in a big way. And that, friends, was fantastic! James Brown, ZZ Top and none other than The Blues Brothers got funky together at halftime.

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22. Super Bowl XLIV: The Who

It's tough to follow Bruce Springsteen, and throwback rockers The Who felt that pressure in 2010. Though they are a classic band worthy of all the accolades, their halftime show was a bit of a snooze, especially when most viewers know them as "the band that gave us the CSI theme song."

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21. Super Bowl XXXIV: Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, Toni Braxton

Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias and Toni Braxton were all fantastic, and the entire show was narrated by Edward James Olmos, which is pretty amazing. Take a moment to consider the unique power of each of their voices!

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20. Super Bowl XXVIII: Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt, The Judds

The halftime show was power-packed in 1994. The mid-field stage welcomed Travis Tritt, Tanya Tucker, Clint Black, The Judds, Stevie Wonder and ... Elijah Wood? Yep. Rhythm, blues and the kid who would soon bring us a pretty important hobbit.

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19. Super Bowl XXIX: The Indiana Jones Halftime Show

When Patti LaBelle, Teddy Pendergrass and Tony Bennett came together for the Indiana Jones-themed show, the talent was top notch. But it would have been much better without the theme. This might be why we really don't see that happen anymore.

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18. Super Bowl LII: Justin Timberlake

In 2018, Justin Timberlake took the halftime show stage for the third time (his first with *NSYNC and infamous second with Janet Jackson). Though he didn't share the stage with any other artists -- unless you count his band, the Tennessee Kids -- he kept it kinda interesting with a Prince tribute and a meme-able moment with the now-named "Selfie Kid."

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17. Super Bowl XXXV: Aerosmith and *NSYNC

Are you ready for a strong blast of '90s awesomeness? Aerosmith and *NSYNC got busy midfield, welcoming Mary J. Blige, Nelly and Britney Spears. It wasn't the best halftime show on this list, but it was definitely the most fun.

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16. Super Bowl XXXIII: Gloria Estefan, Stevie Wonder, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

Gloria Estefan made her second halftime show appearance, and she brought Stevie Wonder and Big Bad Voodoo Daddy with her. It was a swingin' good time! It just proved that a random assemblage of artists on one stage can work out really well when this level of artistry is involved.

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15. Super Bowl LIII: Maroon 5, Travis Scott, Big Boi

The road to the 2019 halftime show had some hurdles, but the show went on -- and went well -- at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. SpongeBob Squarepants had a moment, Travis Scott set the stage on fire and Big Boi arrived in signature ATL fashion. With a shirtless finale from Adam Levine, it turned out to be a pretty good show after all.

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14. Super Bowl XXXVIII: Janet Jackson, P. Diddy, Nelly, Justin Timberlake

This was the one. The dreaded "Nipplegate" show. The one that was followed by a string of snooze-worthy shows all because Justin Timberlake got all heavy-handed and exposed Miss Jackson's right breast. P. Diddy and Nelly were also in attendance, but no one remembers that.

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13. Super Bowl XXXVII: Shania Twain, No Doubt, Sting

The only act that would have pumped more girl power into the Super Bowl XXXVII halftime show would have been The Spice Girls. Instead, Sting joined Shania Twain and No Doubt for the show. No disrespect to Sting's talent and (continued) relevance, but this just didn't make much sense.

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12. Super Bowl XLVIII: Bruno Mars and special guests The Red Hot Chili Peppers

Pre-bowl, the public was excited about Bruno Mars, but confused about his special guests: The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Lucky for them, the game itself was relatively boring, making the somewhat disconnected halftime show seem sort of exciting.

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11. Super Bowl XXXVI: U2

America was still reeling from the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 and, at such a tough time, few bands could have put on a more appropriate show than U2. They started with "Beautiful Day" and wrapped up as a list of those killed in the attacks scrolled behind them.

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10. Super Bowl XXX: Diana Ross

If you're looking for the most diva-riffic halftime show of all time, this is it. Diana Ross took the stage on a sparkling pedestal. She then sang her biggest hits as a slamming team of dancers did their thing around her. Not enough? She left the stage via helicopter. Supreme diva achievement unlocked.

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9. Coldplay, Beyoncé and Bruno Mars

Coldplay were scheduled to headline the Super Bowl 50 Halftime Show, but Beyoncé and Bruno Mars took it to the next level. The show was high-energy from beginning to end, and wrapped up nicely by paying homage to halftime shows of yore.

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8. Super Bowl XL: The Rolling Stones

Mick Jagger brought that never-ending energy that we all love when The Rolling Stones went hard for the halftime show in 2006. They went through all the big ones, from "Start Me Up" to "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction."

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7. Super Bowl XLIX: Katy Perry

A giant, sparkling animatronic tiger! Dancing sharks! A flying "The More You Know" star! Katy Perry's Super Bowl Halftime Show had exciting moments at every turn. To top things off, Lenny Kravitz was there playing guitar the only way he knows how: like a sex god. And Missy Elliott made her praised comeback. The result? The most watched, most talked about halftime show so far.

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6. Super Bowl XLVII: Beyoncé, Destiny's Child

This was Beyoncé's Super Bowl, and they don't call her "Queen Bey" for nothing. Every moment was flawless. And we can't forget about the highly anticipated Destiny's Child reunion. The show was so good that the stadium itself literally couldn't take it. Power went down at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and stayed down for more than half an hour.

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5. Super Bowl XLII: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers

This show may not have left you breathless, but you had to admit, it was pretty cool. From "American Girl" to "Free Fallin'," Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers brought American nostalgia to the Super Bowl in a real and beautiful way.

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4. Super Bowl XXVII: Michael Jackson

The once and forever King of Pop agreed to play the halftime show in 1993, and we are all eternally grateful. The crowd at The Rose Bowl absolutely could not handle it at the time, cheering for what seemed like hours when MJ initially took the stage. He played all of the favorites, including "Black or White" and "Billie Jean," and then left a stadium (and country) full of elated fans in his wake.

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3. Super Bowl XLIII: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band

The Boss took control of the Super Bowl, and it seemed he wasn't going to give it back. The band removed a verse from each song they performed in order to meet the 12-minute halftime show limit, and they almost didn't make it. What did make it? His legendary stage slide that ended with his crotch crashing into America's living rooms via a stageside camera man.

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2. Super Bowl XXXIX: Paul McCartney

It's no secret that Sir Paul McCartney is a talented guy, so he was able to put on a multifaceted halftime show. He kicked things off on guitar, scaling through a handful of Beatles tunes. Then he switched to the keys for "Live and Let Die." The best part was when he played "Hey Jude" and you could hear the crowd singing along. So what could possibly be better than that?

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1. Super Bowl XLI: Prince

There is simply no one like Prince. When he played his purple symbol guitar midfield at Super Bowl XLI, the world was in awe. As if performing "Purple Rain" wouldn't have been enough, it was actually raining in the stadium as he played. Next, he laid out a solo that was out of this world. Then, the crowd sang along with the outro, and it was magical. With that, Prince's halftime performance went down in history as the best ever.