Contact Us

Top Five Super Bowl Halftime Show Performances

Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Paul McCartney
Jamie Squire / Donald Miralle / Brian Bahr, Getty Images

Let’s face it, any proper list of the top Super Bowl halftime performances is going to be dominated by classic rock acts. If any good came from Janet Jackson’s infamous wardrobe malfunction during the 2004 halftime show, it’s that for the next half dozen years the NFL chose to give classic rockers such as Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney the home field advantage in terms of booking. 

Of course, the music chosen for halftime shows has regrettably swung back to the world of pop in recent years. So as we prepare for Bruno Mars (and granted, the Red Hot Chili Peppers) to perform at this year’s big game, we take a fond look back at the Top Five Super Bowl Halftime Show Performances:


2008

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Super Bowl XLII
 
 

Tom Petty is more concerned with performing songs than he is about putting on a "show." So if his 2008 appearance maybe lacked a bit in the way of visual stimulation, it certainly didn't come as a surprise. He’s from the school of Dylan; as the years go by that becomes more and more apparent in not only the way that he delivers his vocals, but also in his overall presence. As fans rushed towards the stage (which was visually very attractive), Petty opened with the fan favorite ‘American Girl.’ A sea of yellow lights waving through a deep blue hue provided the backdrop for ‘I Won’t Back Down,’ followed by ‘Free Fallin',’ which allowed guitarist Mike Campbell his moment to shine.

 
2006

The Rolling Stones

Super Bowl XL
 
 

Let's go to the Rolling Stones play by play! Mick Jagger blasted right out of the gate with ‘Start Me Up’ and ran around the iconic tongue logo stage gyrating the entire way. There was a visual surprise in the fact that the tongue itself was merely a red blanketed cover that once lifted revealed a pit of fans underneath. The band made their presence known with guitarists Keith Richards and Ron Wood playing off one another, while Charlie Watts was as always the glue holding the entire operation together. Showcasing their then-new song ‘Rough Justice’ seemed logical, but they may have fared better to play another mega hit. All was forgiven when Jagger commented, “This one we could have done at Super Bowl I you know, but everything comes to he who waits,” before ripping into a sassy version of ‘(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction’ that led Jagger to dance around the stage like a banshee. Touchdown!

 
2009

Bruce Springsteen

Super Bowl XLIII
 
 

A total showman, Springsteen projected a full 100 yards of charisma as he proudly introduced the E Street Band. Re-watching them open with ‘Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out’ instantly reminds one of just how much Clarence Clemons will be missed. Springsteen’s choice to play ‘Born To Run’ seemed highly appropriate, as was ‘Working On A Dream’ which allowed a full-fledged choir and the audience to participate. Calling over guitarist Little Steven to duet on ‘Glory Days’ capped off this high-energy performance, which even included a referee getting into the act. It was a top-notch halftime from beginning to end.

 
2007

Prince

Super Bowl XLI
 
 

OK, we're gonna take some flack for this one, we know. But watch it again, and see if there's isn't more classic rock in here than you realized! Opening with a clip from Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You,’ The Artist Formerly Known as "The Artist Formerly Known as.." quickly had the audience in the palm of his hand. The underrated guitarist immediately launched into ‘Lets Go Crazy’ while strutting around on a wet stage (it was pouring rain) as if he hadn’t noticed. ‘Baby I'm a Star’ was the cue for an entire marching band to get funky, and was followed by a version of Creedence Clearwater Revival's ‘Proud Mary.’ A sincere nod to Jimi Hendrix (and Dylan) followed as he played a piece from ‘All Along The Watchtower,’ which seemed painfully short considering it merged into ‘Best Of You’ by the Foo Fighters. Typically rain is uncomfortable in an outdoor venue, but if you got soaked during the ‘Purple Rain’ finale, this may have proved the exception to that rule.

 
2005

Paul McCartney

Super Bowl XXXIX
 
 

McCartney looks as cool and collected as you might expect coming from a Beatle that had ‘Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band’ in the bag well before the very first Super Bowl was played in 1967. Using large runways to project video, it almost looked like McCartney was a one-man show (at times) on a large, flashy, game board. The overall view was probably superb for those located in the nosebleed sections, while those close to the stage must have been thrilled when he sat at the piano for a fantastic version of ‘Live And Let Die.’ Every hand in the house was high in the air as the fireworks started to launch. McCartney then ran his very own successful version of the two-minute drill, encouraging the crowd to accompany him for the closer, ‘Hey Jude.’

 

Next: Top Rock Concert Opening Songs

Best of the Web

More From Around the Web

Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your points and personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

*Please note that your points, prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account with your Facebook account, just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing profile and VIP program points. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to http://ultimateclassicrock.com using your Facebook account.

*Please note that your points, prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

Register on Ultimate Classic Rock quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!

Not a Member? Sign Up Here

Register on Ultimate Classic Rock quickly by logging in with your Facebook account. It's just as secure, and no password to remember!