The 7 Best Super Bowl Halftime Shows Of All Time

michael jackson superbowl halftime show

Photo: Getty Images/Mike Powell

From Prince‘s ‘Purple Rain’ to U2‘s ‘Where The Streets Have No Name,’ the Super Bowl halftime show has been home to great performances by artists.Here are our picks for the best. (They’re in chronological order, not order of greatness.)

1. Michael Jackson (1993)

2. Aerosmith, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, Nelly, 'N Sync (2001)

The Super Bowl halftime show has often tried to book the artists who were leading the pop culture zeitgeist, and while some of them have put on great performances, others have stumbled. However, the 2001 combination of artists managed to be a perfect capsule of who was popular at the time as well as entertaining.

Aerosmith performed two solo numbers, 'I Don't Want to Miss a Thing' and 'Jaded,' while 'N Sync chose 'It's Gonna Be Me' and 'Bye Bye Bye' for their numbers. The entire group sang Aerosmith's 'Walk This Way' to close out the show.

3. U2 (2002)

The Irish band's performance was the first halftime show after the Sept. 11, 2001, and the performance included large backdrops onto which were projected the names of many of the victims who died in the attacks.

After the band performed 'MLK,' 'Beautiful Day' and 'Where the Streets Have No Name,' frontman Bono revealed an American flag on the lining of his jacket. Many called it a stirring and respectful tribute.

4. Paul McCartney (2005)

The former Beatle and Wings member took the stage and performed hits from both of his bands, including Wings' 'Live and Let Die' and the Beatles' 'Get Back,' 'Drive My Car' and 'Hey Jude.'

'Jude,' the last song in his performance, became a stadium-wide singalong with McCartney conducting.

5. The Rolling Stones (2006)

The famously racy group told the network beforehand that they were OK with song lyrics being censored in the wake of the 2004 Janet Jackson halftime scandal, and some of the words in the Stones' songs during the set were cut off when ABC-TV silenced singer Mick Jagger's microphone.

The band performed 'Rough Justice,' '(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction' and 'Start Me Up.'

6. Prince (2007)

It's hard to beat 'Purple Rain' in... well, the rain.

The singer performed with the Florida A&M University Marching 100 Band and played a mammoth set which consisted of seven songs, starting with 'We Will Rock You' and continuing on to 'Let's Go Crazy,' 'Baby, I'm A Star,' 'Proud Mary,' 'All Along the Watchtower,' 'Best of You' and that rendition of 'Purple Rain.'

7. Bruce Springsteen (2009)

The Boss took the stage -- with the E Street Band, of course -- and performed with a choir and The Miami Horns. Before the show, Springsteen had been interviewed by sportscaster Bob Costas, who told the singer that he assumed Springsteen would be toning down his moves onstage slightly to accommodate his age.

Whether it was directly related to his interview with Costas was unclear, but Springsteen did jump onto a piano early on in the set. During the performance, Springsteen and the rest performed 'Working on a Dream,' 'Glory Days,' 'Born to Run' and 'Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out.'

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