Performing at the Super Bowl may be the pinnacle of pop superstardom, the biggest, most spectacular gig you’ll ever play as an artist. However, it used to be the exact opposite of appointment TV.
Don’t believe it? Cases in point: Do you remember the captivating “Be Bop Bamboozled” at the Orange Bowl in 1989? Or that killer halftime show featuring the Rockettes and Chubby Checker and 88 grand pianos in 1988? No, no you do not. Ditto any one of those four annoyingly contrived Up With People performances in the late 70s and early 80s, or Carol Channing (twice).
Before the King of Pop, the Super Bowl halftime show was an endless wasteland of college marching bands and maddening flag-spinning tributes, from salutes to Hollywood (twice), to Duke Ellington, to Motown, to the Caribbean, to the Big Band Era. We also got the New Kids on the Block (1991) not singing any of their biggest hits and Gloria Estefan (1992) providing the soundtrack for Olympic figure skaters Dorothy Hamill and Brian Boitano of “What would Brian Boitano do?” fame, because nothing says a Minnesota Super Bowl like the lead singer of the Miami Sound Machine.
Then we got Michael Jackson at the Rose Bowl in 1993 — and the Super Bowl has never been the same.
For Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis at U.S. Bank Stadium, Justin Timberlake will make history as the only performer to ever grace the world’s biggest stage three times. What’s in store for JT’s big Super Bowl comeback?.
He’s certainly got his work cut out for him after last year’s.
Here is the complete list of previous Super Bowl halftime performers and themes:
2016: Coldplay, Beyonce, Bruno Mars
2015: Katy Perry, Lenny Kravitz and Missy Elliott
2014: Bruno Mars, Red Hot Chili Peppers
2011: The Black Eyed Peas, Usher, Slash
2010: The Who
2009: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band
2008: Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
2007: Prince and the Florida A&M marching band
2006: The Rolling Stones
2005: Paul McCartney
2004: Janet Jackson, Kid Rock, P. Diddy, Nelly and Justin Timberlake
2003: Shania Twain, No Doubt and Sting
2001: “The Kings of Rock and Pop” featuring Aerosmith, ‘N’Sync, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige and Nelly
2000: “A Tapestry of Nations” featuring Phil Collins, Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias, Toni Braxton and an 80-person choir
1999: “Celebration of Soul, Salsa and Swing” featuring Stevie Wonder, Gloria Estefan, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and tap dancer Savion Glover
1998: “A Tribute to Motown’s 40th Anniversary” including Boyz II Men, Smokey Robinson, Queen Latifah, Martha Reeves and The Temptations
1997: “Blues Brothers Bash” featuring Dan Akroyd, John Goodman and James Belushi (also featuring “The Godfather of Soul” James Brown and ZZ Top)
1996: Diana Ross celebrating 30 years of the Super Bowl with special effects, pyrotechnics and stadium card stunt. Finale featured Diana Ross being taken from the stadium in a helicopter
1995: “Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye” featuring Tony Bennett, Patti LaBelle, Arturo Sandoval, the Miami Sound Machine and stunts including fire and skydivers. Finale included audience participation with light sticks
1994: “Rockin’ Country Sunday” featuring Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Travis Tritt, Wynonna & Naomi Judd. Finale included flashlight stunt
1993: “Heal the World” featuring Michael Jackson and 3,500 local children. Finale included audience card stunt.
1992: “Winter Magic” including a salute to the winter season and the winter Olympics featuring Gloria Estefan, Brian Boitano and Dorothy Hamill
1991: “A Small World Salute to 25 Years of the Super Bowl” featuring New Kids on the Block
1990: “Salute to New Orleans” and 40th Anniversary of Peanuts’ characters, featuring trumpeter Pete Fountain, Doug Kershaw & Irma Thomas
1989: “Be Bop Bamboozled” featuring 3-D effects
1988: “Something Grand” featuring 88 grand pianos, the Rockettes and Chubby Checker
1987: “Salute to Hollywood’s 100th Anniversary”
1986: “Beat of the Future”
1985: “A World of Children’s Dreams”
1984: “Super Bowl XVIII’s Salute to the Superstars of the Silver Screen”
1983: “KaleidoSUPERscope” (a kaleidoscope of color and sound)
1982: “A Salute to the 60s and Motown”
1981: “A Mardi Gras Festival”
1980: “A Salute to the Big Band Era” with Up with People
1979: “Super Bowl XIII Carnival” Salute to the Caribbean with Ken Hamilton and various Caribbean bands
1978: “From Paris to the Paris of America” with Tyler Apache Belles, Pete Fountain and Al Hirt
1977: “It’s a Small World” including crowd participation for first time with spectators waving colored placards on cue
1976: “200 Years and Just a Baby” Tribute to America’s Bicentennial
1975: “Tribute to Duke Ellington” with Mercer Ellington and Grambling State band
1974: “A Musical America” with University of Texas band
1973: “Happiness Is.” with University of Michigan marching band and Woody Herman
1972: “Salute to Louis Armstrong” with Ella Fitzgerald, Carol Channing, Al Hirt and U.S. Marine Corps Drill Team
1971: Florida A&M band
1970: Carol Channing
1969: “America Thanks” with Florida A&M University band
1968: Grambling State band
1967: University of Arizona and Grambling State marching bands