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OPINION: Best Super Bowl Halftime Shows of the 21st Century

Updated: Nov 15, 2023

By Morgan Cole

The 55th Super Bowl will have the most unique halftime show we’ve ever seen in the history of football. The Super Bowl is known for its iconic halftime performances that show popular artists singing and dancing in front of a large crowd. This will not be the case this year due to the ongoing pandemic. Instead, a limited number of people will be allowed to attend the Super Bowl, and they will be required to wear masks. The artists would normally be surrounded by several backup dancers but those dancers will be limited this year to ensure safety.

I think it’s important that we take a look back and appreciate the past 20 years of vast Super Bowl halftime shows before we all watch The Weeknd perform at the 55th Super Bowl this Sunday.

Here’s my top five list of the best Super Bowl halftime shows since the year 2000.

5. Paul McCartney ‒ 2005

Easily the most tranquil out of the top five is Paul McCartney’s Super Bowl halftime in 2005. Although the production had no dancers, stunts, or surprises, it remains a top Super Bowl performance.

McCartney mentioned in a behind the scenes video that he liked how the performance wasn’t flashy.

The production featured classic Beatles’ songs like “Drive My Car,” “Get Back” and “Hey Jude.”

Overall, as much as fans would have loved to see all four Beatles on stage at the Super Bowl, McCartney was able to pull off a killer performance of the band’s songs himself.

4. Beyoncė ‒ 2013

Beyonce’s fabulous dancing was paired with creative lighting and surprise guests in this halftime show.

The performance began with a Vince Lombardi quote playing from the speakers while light figures of Beyoncė popped up around the stadium. This chilling start pulled the entire audience into what ended up being one of the top Super Bowl halftime shows of the 21st century.

Toward the end of the show, Beyoncė brought Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams on stage to perform with her. This was significant because all three were members of Destiny’s Child ‒ a music group that sparked the beginning of Beyonce’s career.

3. Katy Perry ‒ 2015

Palm trees and tigers and sharks, oh my! This 2015 Super Bowl halftime show had so many surprises in it that I don’t even know where to start.

I don’t think anyone realized how much they needed to hear Lenny Kravitz’s rendition of, “I Kissed a Girl” until we were blessed with his performance with Katy Perry at the 49th Super Bowl. Kravitz is a legend, and his guest appearance in the show is one of the reasons that this production was so iconic.

Perry started her performance on a massive tiger while singing her hit single “Roar.” This was a creative and dramatic way to begin the show in comparison to others; where the headliner simply begins on stage.

The dancing sharks were a fan favorite, with many fans creating memes of the sharks on Twitter.

2. Prince ‒ 2007

“Can you make it rain harder?” Prince said before his legendary performance at the 41st Super Bowl according to a behind-the-scenes video.

Prince was told prior to the show that it hadn’t rained at a Super Bowl in 40 years and that he had nothing to worry about. Although it ended up pouring rain during the halftime show, Prince pulled off an impeccable performance.

This show was so unique because most of the songs that Prince performed were not his own; he wasn’t advertising himself in any way.

Prince did his own rendition of “We Will Rock You” by Queen, “All Along the Watchtower” by The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and “Best of You” by Foo Fighters.

And, to top it all off, Prince performed arguably one of his most famous songs “Purple Rain” in the pouring rain at the 41st Super Bowl.

  1. Lady Gaga ‒ 2017

The No. 1 Super Bowl halftime show of the 21st century goes to the woman who literally jumped off the top of the stadium and proceeded to do backflips on the way down. Would you expect anything less from Lady Gaga?

The first seven minutes of the production were upbeat; Gaga was either dancing on stage or spinning in the air. After a few fun songs, Gaga sat down and sang her slow song “Million Reasons” while playing the piano. This showcased Gaga’s true musical talent because she was clearly tired and out of breath, and yet there wasn’t a single flaw in her voice.

After that brief intermission from pop songs, Gaga finished off her outstanding performance with a huge dance number to her hit single “Bad Romance.”

Her mic drop moment (she actually did drop her mic at the end but this is beside the point) was when she jumped off a large platform and caught a football in the air.

It will be interesting to see how The Weeknd performs in the 55th Super Bowl this Sunday with limited backup dancers and a significantly smaller audience. It’ll be something we’ve never seen before. But, this year’s unique Super Bowl will give the choreographers and set designers the opportunity to take their creativity to the next level.

And, if they do it right, The Weeknd could end up on the next list of the top Super Bowl halftime shows ‒ even amidst a global pandemic.


What has been your favorite Super Bowl halftime show? Let us know on InstagramTwitter, or leave a comment!

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