The 5 most memorable Super Bowl halftime performances ahead of Usher's 2024 show

Virgin Radio

9 Feb 2024, 12:36

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It’s one of the most highly-anticipated nights of the year to bring sports and music together, and has hosted some incredible live acts over the years.

The coveted spot on the Super Bowl halftime show has been a long-standing tradition within the NFL and a big opportunity to entice pop culture fans to the world of American football.

The first halftime show performance took place in January 1967, with the University of Arizona Symphonic Marching Band, Grambling State University Marching Band and the Anaheim High School drill team and flag girls. That’s a long way away from the A-List musicians and iconic artists who have graced the stage since.

R&B royalty Usher will take to the infamous stage for the Super Bowl LVIII game in Kansas this Sunday (11th February), and in true all time legend fashion, the Confessions Part II hit maker has promised us the world, with many guest stars rumoured to appear alongside him.

When you've got over 30 years in music, 20 UK top ten hits and 9 albums to choose from, it is certainly a site to behold!

With all that to look forward to, here's a look back at Virgin Radio’s five most memorable Super Bowl halftime performances:

U2 (2002)

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The Irish rocker’s performance was hailed as being one of the most poignant and personal rock & roll moments of all time.

Taking to the stage just months after the 9/11 attack, Bono and the band paid tribute to the victims while also putting on a show to remember.

They started with ‘Beautiful Day’, before moving onto ‘MLK’ while projecting the names of those who died in the tragic terrorist attack on a giant screen.

In a move which was seen as both anti-war yet a loving tribute to the US, Bono revealed an American flag sewn into his jacket in an emotional and fitting end to the touching performance.

Watch the performance here

Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake (2004)

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Potentially memorable for all the wrong reasons, this Super Bowl performance for the 2004 game caught the attention for something other than music.

The likes of Jessica Simpson, Kid Rock, P. Diddy and Nelly took to the stage, but it wasn’t until Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake performed Rock Your Body together that things really kicked off.

Janet's performance should be remembered as one with sharp choreography, which Janet is famous for, but instead, her performance of Rock Your Body with Justin ended in disaster.

Part of Janet’s costume was ripped off by Justin, accidentally exposing her in what was then referred to as ‘nipple-gate’.

While there have always been rumblings about whether or not the incident was staged, Janet's career unfortunately took a hit due to the flashing, and the strict thoughts on indecency on telly meant Janet bore the brunt of the criticism.

Beyoncé and Bruno Mars crash Coldplay’s halftime show (2016)

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There aren’t many halftime shows that can properly twist and turn through different genres, but when it comes to headliners Coldplay, they gave fans across the world plenty of different things to enjoy back in 2016.

They rocked the house with Viva La Vida, before Bruno Mars burst into his ultimate earworm track Uptown Funk alongside collaborator Mark Ronson behind the decks. Breaking into a leather-clad dance routine, Bruno looked right at home on the Super Bowl stage, before Queen Bey herself joined in from the pitch.

It was the debut of her stellar track Formation, which went on to usher in a new era, sound and feel to her already illustrious career.

The two minute performance was enough to cement her title as one of the more memorable performances to take place during the sporting event. She did take a tiny tumble during part of the routine, but brushed it off so quickly, you’d be forgiven for missing it entirely. She’s just that good.

Watch the performance here.

Madonna Medley (2012)

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It’s Madonna - so obviously this was a go-big-or-go-home scenario for the Queen of Pop. Luckily for us and the millions watching, she did indeed go very, very big.

Turning the stadium into a Roman colosseum, Madge was carried like royalty to the stage, with more gladiators on the pitch than football players during the game.

Her 13-minute Super Medley was pop-banger after pop-banger. It kicked off with a sparkling Vogue remix before launching into a multicolour performance of Music. Tightrope walkers and acrobats flexed all over the stage, before Madonna joined cheerleading forces with Nicki Minaj and M.I.A for Give Me All Your Luvin’.

It wasn’t without controversy though, as rapper M.I.A was sued by the NFL for an eye-watering $16 million for putting up her middle finger during the performance.

Prince and the infamous thunderstorm (2007)

And last but certainly not least, if anyone deserves to be in a top Super Bowl moments list, it’s Prince, who stared down Mother Nature herself to put on the unforgettable performance.

In the middle of a Miami thunderstorm, Prince pulled out all the stops to cover numerous rock and roll classics, including We Will Rock You and Neil Young’s All Along The Watchtower. It was his performance of Purple Rain - in the literal rain - that will forever be etched in the halftime performance hall of fame. You couldn’t have planned it any better.

Watch the full performance here.

The Kansas City Chiefs will face the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LVIII on Sunday 11th February. The scheduled kick-off time for UK fans is 11:30pm on ITV1 and Sky Sports.