It's a highlight for the music and sporting calendars every year: the Super Bowl.
The annual league championship game of the National Football League (NFL), the Super Bowl has a long and storied history, and has served as the final game of the NFL season since 1966. Outside of its importance in US sports, the yearly spectacle holds significance in the music industry too, thanks to its memorable halftime show which showcases the very best performers in popular culture each year.
Since 1993, the halftime show has featured huge pop and rock acts from around the world. It's a highly anticipated event, clocking in at around 12 minutes each year, which draws huge viewing figures and becomes a worldwide talking point for weeks following.
2024 saw Usher take to the stage as headliner, with special appearances from Alicia Keys, Jermaine Dupri, H.E.R., will.i.am, Lil Jon, Ludacris and included the marching band Sonic Boom of the South. It was a career spanning performance full of energy, and an opportunity that Usher referred to as the "honor of a lifetime".
In celebration of another incredible show, we've taken a look back over the years at some of the most iconic and memorable Super Bowl performances in history.
Super Bowl XLI
2007's Super Bowl halftime show remains one of the most heralded in history. Music legend Prince headlined the affair, having previously been disinterested in performing at the yearly spectacle, before finally changing his mind in 2006.
It's a testament to the vision and talent of Prince that only one rehearsal had taken place at the stadium previous to the now-iconic performance, which - in spite of the relentless rain - went off seemingly without a hitch.
Atop a stage shaped like his famous "Love Symbol #2", Prince delivered a 12 minute performance that was a passionate and effortless medley of Prince hits including "Let's Go Crazy" and "Baby I'm A Star", alongside nods to fellow music legends, such as Jimi Hendrix, Foo Fighters, and Tina Turner.
As the downpour continued into the final act of the performance, Prince concluded the show with a snippet of "Purple Rain", and an unforgettable guitar solo that only Prince could do justice. Drenched to the skin, the stadium filled with purple light: this performance is one that has been difficult to top ever since.
Super Bowl LVII
Rihanna's Super Bowl LVII halftime performance at State Farm Stadium Arizona, sponsored by Apple Music, etched its place in history as the most-watched halftime show to date with over 121 million viewers eagerly tuning in (surpassing Katy Perry's 2015 performance).
The R&B icon’s return to the stage after a five-year hiatus ignited burning anticipation among fans worldwide. Leading up to the event, speculation buzzed about potential surprise guests, yet none could have predicted the reveal of Rihanna's blossoming baby bump, which caused an onslaught of social media excitement.
Positioned atop seven LED-lit platforms suspended anywhere from 15 to 60 feet above the field, Rihanna delivered a momentous megamix of her greatest hits, including "Rude Boy," "Only Girl (In The World)," "Work," and "Umbrella," captivating audiences for a mesmerising 13-minute performance. Critics lauded Rihanna's seamless execution and choreography.
The performance proved to be a commercial triumph for Rihanna, as her song catalogue experienced a significant surge in streams and sales post-show, with multiple albums re-entering charts worldwide, solidifying Rihanna's legacy as one of the foremost influencers of the 21st century.
Super Bowl XLVII
Beyoncé's Super Bowl XLVII halftime performance, held at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans in 2013, stands as a monumental moment in pop culture history. Sponsored by Pepsi, the electrifying show drew an estimated 110 million viewers worldwide, solidifying its status as one of the most-watched halftime performances ever.
Beyoncé's highly anticipated return to the stage after giving birth to her daughter, Blue Ivy, ignited immense excitement among fans. As the lights dimmed and the stage sprang to life, Beyoncé delivered a powerhouse performance that captivated viewers from start to finish.
From the opening beats of "Love on Top" to the unforgettable finale of "Halo," Beyoncé showcased her unparalleled talent as a singer, dancer, and performer. The show also featured a nostalgic reunion with her former Destiny's Child bandmates, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams, elevating an already iconic performance to new heights.
Critics lauded Beyoncé's flawless execution and dynamic choreography, praising her for delivering a halftime show that will be remembered for years to come.
Michael Jackson (1993)
Super Bowl XLVII
Michael Jackson's iconic performance at the Super Bowl XXVII halftime show took place at the Rose Bowl in California in 1993, marking a groundbreaking moment in Super Bowl history.
Utilising body doubles, pyrotechnics, and the participation of 3500 local children, Jackson revolutionised the halftime show experience. His medley of greatest hits, including "Billie Jean," "Black or White," and "Heal the World," captivated audiences and set a new standard for halftime entertainment.
With an estimated 135 million viewers, it remains one of the most-watched events in television history. Jackson's halftime show not only showcased his musical prowess but also blended elements of dance and spectacle, elevating the halftime show from a mere intermission to a must-see event in its own right.
Aerosmith & NSYNC (2001)
The Super Bowl XXXV halftime show, known as "The Kings of Rock and Pop", took place in 2001 and was sponsored by E-Trade. Headlined by the legendary bands Aerosmith and NSYNC, it marked a memorable moment in music history.
The show kicked off with NSYNC performing "Bye Bye Bye," with fans surrounding the stage: a first in Super Bowl history. Aerosmith followed with "I Don't Want to Miss a Thing," delivering an iconic performance, leading into NSYNC - accompanied by Tremors featuring The Earthquake Horns - then performing huge hit "It's Gonna Be Me."
Steven Tyler, known as the 'Demon of Screamin', joined in for the final line before Aerosmith's unforgettable rendition of "Jaded." The show concluded with a memorable collaboration, as both bands united to perform "Walk This Way," joined by Britney Spears, Nelly (who rapped part of "E.I."), and Mary J. Blige, making a grand entrance with powerful walks down the stage.
This performance has been hailed by some outlets as one of the best Super Bowl halftime shows to date.