Ranking the Super Bowl Shows That Left America Buzzing!

Ranking the Super Bowl Shows That Left America Buzzing!Source: X/Super Bowl
Jesse Hoffman
Published on February 12, 2024

The Super Bowl has always been much more than just a football game. It's an American tradition that includes high-octane commercials, and of course, the highly anticipated halftime show. A stage where careers can ignite like fireworks on the Fourth of July - the Super Bowl halftime slot has ushered in some of music's most unforgettable moments. Just ask anyone who's seen Lady Gaga dive from stadium roofs or watched Shakira and J-Lo bring down the house; these are the snapshots in time people talk about on Monday morning. But let's talk rankings, because some shows leave an indelible mark on history.

Recent rankings by KSAT have attempted to sift through the past two decades of halftime lore to crown the cream of the crop. Of course, as the styles have morphed from marching band modesty to the chart-toppers' short but sweet sets, comparisons span a wide array. From the star-packed Aerosmith and *NSYNC medleys of yesteryear to Bruno Mars’ showmanship that had MetLife Stadium on its feet. Meanwhile, the infamous "wardrobe malfunction" during Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake's performance has remained a point of contention and conversation for better or for worse.

But there are those performances that are simply burned into the collective memory. According to Entertainment Weekly, Katy Perry's Super Bowl XLIX showcase is hard to forget, largely thanks to an offbeat dance by a backup performer known now to all as "Left Shark." Memes aside, Perry, along with Missy Elliott's surprise appearance, gave viewers a pop concoction that was sweet to the last drop. Also on EW's list of greats is the first all hip-hop halftime show featuring Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, and a slew of rap royals who brought the house down without so much as involving a politics.

Diving back in time, another name that often surfaces when discussing Super Bowl halftime lore is the Material Girl herself. While Madonna's Super Bowl XLVI halftime show was packed with hits like "Vogue" and "Like a Prayer," it was M.I.A.'s controversial middle finger that captured post-game headlines. "Such a teenage, irrelevant thing to do," Madonna said of the incident, but the conversation had already moved past her own performance. And let's not forget the Stones – Mick Jagger and his bandmates may have had a few lyrics snipped for the censors post-Janet/Justin, but their Super Bowl set still strutted with a fiery vigor, reminding us all, that yes, sometimes a band can indeed get some satisfaction.

These shows and others are measured by their lasting cultural footprints, proving that sometimes, all an artist needs is a tight 12-15 minutes to make a statement that echoes beyond the stadium. Whether it's the technical finesse of a Bruno Mars drum solo or the full-throat roar of "I Don't Wanna Miss a Thing," Super Bowl halftime shows have become a seasonal rite, defining how we celebrate, debate and dissect the artistic zeitgeist - even if for just a moment before the second half kick-off.