Watch: Six Super Bowl halftime shows that actually kicked ass
I’ve more or less forgotten that the Super Bowl even happens. Chalk it up to ten years of living in Canada, where HOCKEY HOCKEY HOCKEY HOCKEY HOCKEY!!!!!!
What was I saying? Oh, yeah, I just realized the Super Bowl is happening this weekend, and that halftime will bring the cringeworthy combination of Bruno Mars and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. They’ll fall into a long line of absurd halftime show combinations, like Tina Turner, Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, Toni Braxton, and an 80-person choir (2000) — or Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, Chris Rock, Aerosmith, ‘N Sync, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, and Nelly (2001).
But a handful of Super Bowl shows have transcended their context to become incredible spectacles of pop entertainment. Here are the six that, I think, completely kicked ass and are worth watching again.
Michael Jackson (1993)
Before this performance, Super Bowl halftime shows were the stomping ground of marching bands and old country singers. Who doesn’t remember watching this as a kid and wondering which Michael was the real one? Or wondering how long he could stand there without moving? Classic early-90s nostalgia.
After too many of the aforementioned collaborative halftime shows, with token appearances by too many mediocre artists, Prince came along and started a much-need new wave of single performer shows. As a born entertainer, he took a sterile pop medium, made it his own, and hit a grand slam. Also: the phallic guitar silhouette thing.
It is completely inconceivable how this happened, but it did, and it was gay as hell and awesome.
Whatever is going on, wherever she is, Beyoncé is a born performer and incredible to watch. She also did a lot to end the ridiculous “wardrobe” malfunction conversation by wearing a perfectly functional wardrobe that showed lots of skin.
Bruce Springsteen (2009)
Like Prince, Springsteen feels most comfortable in front of a massive audience, and this performance felt no different from one of his legendary shows at Giants’ Stadium. It went down hill a bit when he insisted on closing with a song from Working on a Dream, but hey, at this point in his career he can do what he wants.
For all the glitter and glam of their live shows, U2 are still into playing everything live, and this performance had a weird way of bringing the Super Bowl back down to Earth. It was also a nice nod to that other time they played a three-song stadium set.