What do snowmen, magic, figure skating and the Statue of Liberty have in common? They were all key features of the first of three Gloria Estefan halftime shows. The bizarre "Winter Magic" themed-event featured Brian Boitano and Dorothy Hamill skating on tiny snowflakes in honor of the forthcoming Olympics. Why it also featured children in hammer pants rapping about Frosty the Snowman, we may never know. (A more appropriate title would have been "Winter Tragic.") Perhaps fittingly, this disaster of a show was trampled in the ratings by Fox's special live episode of In Living Color.
Can you say "diva"? Ross sang sections of eight of her hits while also managing to make four costume changes! That theatricality included climbing a golden mountain for "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" and exiting the stadium on a helicopter (!) during "Take Me Higher." Perhaps the staging of those songs was a little too literal, but you've got to give her massive spectacle and style points.
Who would've thought a classic rock group, a rapper, a pop star, a R&B queen and a boy band would make for one of the best halftime shows ever? This MTV-produced mash-up honored the spectacle of the event with rock legends Aerosmith, but the bubblegum pop that dominated the music network's airwaves in 2001 was also front and center. Brit was at the peak of her career and JT's high notes were a sign of the tremendous solo talent he'd become, but even Mary J. Blige and Nelly got in on the fun with the rousing closing number "Walk this Way."
For the first Super Bowl after 9/11, U2 transported their heart-shaped Elevation Tour catwalk set to the middle of the Louisiana Superdome and offered a moving tribute to those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks. The Irish rockers opened their set with "Beautiful Day," before transitioning into "MLK" and the classic "Where the Streets Have No Name," during which a massive scroll behind the stage displayed the names of the 9/11 victims. The performance, widely regarded as one of the best halftime shows in Super Bowl history, culminated with Bono displaying the American flag in the inner lining of his leather jacket. Subtle it wasn't, but it was touching for a nation still in mourning.
Thanks to Nipplegate, it's easy to forget that anyone other than Jackson and Timberlake were involved in this performance. (Alas, the TRL head trip of a performance featured Jessica Simpson in a silver bustier, Kid Rock in an American Flag poncho and Nelly driving onto the field in a red convertible -- and occasionally some singing.) Jackson's medley of hits could have saved the day until surprise guest Timberlake -- singing the lyric, "I'm gonna have you naked by the end of this song" -- ripped off part of Janet Jackson's elaborate ensemble, revealing a nipple shield over her right breast. Viewers were outraged, an FCC crackdown began, and the phrase "wardrobe malfunction" entered into our everyday vernacular.
Coming hot off of Nipplegate, Paul McCartney seemed like a safe choice to keep the halftime show clean, which he did. The former Beatle rocked the crowd with "Drive My Car," "Get Back," and "Live and Let Die" before leading the crowd of 84,000 in a sing-along of "Hey Jude." But we still bet the censor controller had his hands ready, just in case Paul got frisky!
Mick Jagger may have joked that "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" was so old that it could've been done at the first Super Bowl, but the band rocked Motor City on a stage shaped like the band's iconic logo. But since the performance came after Nipplegate, portions of "Rough Justice" and "Start Me Up" deemed sexually explicit were muted thanks to the new five-second delay. Even so, the Stones delivered a rollicking good time.
Purple rain, indeed! Inclement weather at Miami's Dolphin Stadium didn't stop Prince -- along with a full marching band clad in LED uniforms -- from giving a show-stopping performance. The legendary singer opening his set with the classic "Let's Go Crazy" before incorporating shortened covers of "Proud Mary," "All Along the Watchtower" and the Foo Fighters' "Best of You" into his routine. The set came to a close with the entire crowd chanting along to "Purple Rain" -- and Prince poking a little fun at the overcautious broadcasters with a silhouette of himself playing a provocatively-shaped guitar behind a waving sheet.
He threw guitars, danced on pianos and (crotch-)slid across the stage multiple times. After several years of older, seemingly "safe" halftime acts in the post-Janet Jackson era, Springsteen and his mighty E Street Band were the perfect compromise, serving up nostalgia via classic crowd favorites like "Born to Run" and "Glory Days" with a big helping of youthful energy and stage presence unrivaled by his veteran rock counterparts. Even better than his set list was Springsteen's interaction with both the crowd on the field, whom he coaxed into multiple singalongs, and the viewers at home, whom he instructed to "step back from the guacamole dip" and "put the chicken fingers down." The Boss always knows best!
Despite complaints about their inconsistent sound and old age ("Instead of breaking his guitar on stage, Pete Townshend broke his hip!"), The Who proved they were still one of the masters of arena rock. The band (absent the late Keith Moon and John Entwistle) wowed an audience of 100 million people with a rousing 12-minute set, including "Who Are You," "Won't Get Fooled Again," "Pinball Wizard" and "Baba O'Riley," full of pyrotechnics, concentric laser effects, face-melting licks and energy worthy of men a third their age.
Madonna described the Super Bowl as "the Holy of Holies in America," so it's no surprise she used her show as an opportunity to take viewers to church. The singer desperately clung to relevance throughout the Roman Empire-themed performance, which featured Nicki Minaj, CeeLo Green, M.I.A., LMFAO and numerous images of Madge from her glory days (as though the reminders of how much we used to love her would inspire a resurgence). But all the stunt cameos, slacklining and gospel choirs in the world couldn't distract from M.I.A.'s middle-finger salute to the camera, which easily overshadowed Madonna and her accompanying theatrics.
Although it was the worst-kept secret, viewers were still over the moon to see Queen Bey reunite with her former Destiny's Child group members. But thanks to Mrs. Carter's insane voice and fierce, sexy dance moves, that moment was just one of many standouts during her 14-minute set of favorites, including "Love on Top," "Single Ladies," and "Halo." (The show was so energetic, many joked that Beyoncé was the cause of a stadium blackout the halted the game in the second half.) The performance was watched by more than 104 million viewers, the second-most watched Super Bowl halftime show in history.