THE 12 MOST FABULOUS SUPER BOWL HALFTIME SHOWS
It’s Super Bowl weekend and for the gays that means gathering around to watch commercials while drinking vodka sodas and for 12 minutes looking up from their phones to see a music icon, preferably a diva, slay the stage in an highly-anticipated halftime show.
Not last year.
Expectations were low for Maroon 5‘s turn headlining in what was known as the Super Bowl Naptime Show. Other than Adam Levine’s non-FCC fined “wardrobe malfunction” that flaunted his muscled up and tatted torso, there really wasn’t anything to sing and dance about.
Thankfully this year, the NFL (and Jay Z) realized that the Super Bowl needs a diva. Gays demand a diva. Gals love a diva. Hetero bros won’t admit it, but even they prefer a diva. Everyone is happier with a diva. Pop diva. Rock diva. R&B diva. Rap diva. Country diva. Dance diva. Latin diva. Just give us a diva. Diva. DIVA. DIVA!
So this year we get DOS supreme divas. Queen Jennifer Lopez and Reina Shakira. Two A-list Latinas uniting the country against the Garbage President and his supporters. Make America Guayabera Again! WEPA!
So until J.Lo and Shaks destroy the field on Sunday, let’s reminisce and countdown to the most fabulously divalicious Super Bowl Halftime Shows of yore.
12. Patti LaBelle in 1995 at Super Bowl XXIX
Back in the day, the halftime shows had themes and in 1995 it was Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye, which obviously calls to mind… Patti LaBelle?!
This halftime show is literally insane. It’s like a bizarro Disney & Scientology co-production of Burning Man. I’m not tripping, you’re tripping!
Despite the ridiculous amusement park-style stage show featuring pyrotechnics,”Indiana Jones” parachuting into the stadium and an acted out storyline, The OG Lady Marmalade doesn’t miss a beat belting out Release Yourself, New Attitude and Can You Feel the Love Tonight (alongside Tony Bennett). And while her royally fierce headgear tries to grab the spotlight, Miss Patty reigns supreme making it all it look as easy as sweet potato pie.
But it’s still completely nuts!
11. Katy Perry in 2015 at Super Bowl XLIX
Left Shark. One to Grow On. Missy Elliott. Lenny Kravtiz. It seems I remember everything about Katy Perry’s halftime show except Katy Perry.
While she did sing the hits (Roar, Dark Horse, I Kissed A Girl, Teenage Dream, California Gurls and Firework) and wore three, um, interesting outfits, there’s no denying the Christian artist formerly known as Katheryn Hudson definitely did her best.
A for effort.
10. Shania Twain/No Doubt/Sting in 2003 at Super Bowl XXXVII
Shania Twain came thru drip drip!
Wearing a Matrix leather trench, bejeweled bra, mini-dress and thigh-high boots, the country queen was giving us Real Housewives of Orange County via Hollywood Blvd realness while turning out Man, I Feel Like a Woman and Up.
Gwen Stefani then popped up for Just A Girl , because why not, before joining ageless zaddy Sting for Message in a Bottle. In all, the schizo show was a touchdown for country, pop and rock gays everywhere.
9. Gloria Estefan in 1992 at Super Bowl XXVI & in 1999 at Super Bowl XXXIII
Beyonce wasn’t the first pop diva to perform at two Super Bowl halftime shows, that distinction goes to Cuban-American icon Gloria Estefan.
In ’92, the halftime show honored the Winter Olympics (that theme thing again!) so – prior to Estefan singing Live for Loving You and Get On Your Feet – audiences were subjected to a spectacle featuring marching bands, a giant Frosty the Snowman and the talents of gold medalist iceskaters Dorothy Hamill & Brian Boitano.
It’s completely bonkers and totally AMAZING!
In ’99, the show kept it less nonsensical with the musical theme of Soul, Salsa and Swing. Gloria was called to duty once again to headline alongside Big Voodoo Daddy and Stevie Wonder.
This time La Estefan, looking gorge, lit up the stage with her hits Oye!, Turn the Beat Around, You’ll Be Mine (Party Time) before dueting with Stevie for Another Star & My Cherie Amour.
Y’all, don’t sleep on Gloria, she is the real deal. Wepa!
8. Britney Spears, Aerosmith, NSYNC, Nelly & Mary J. Blige in 2001 at Super Bowl XXV
I know the Cult of Britney™ is going to come for me for putting her so low, but hear me out.
This entire performance was a lot of fun, but it was not the Britney Spears Show. It was all about Aersosmith (I Dont Want to Miss a Thing, Jaded) and NSYNC (Bye, Bye, Bye, It’s Gonna Be Me) with Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige & Nelly thrown in at the end for Walk This Way. No offense, but it’s true.
The theme was Kings & Queens of Rock & Pop, but the queens were just an afterthought. Had Ms. Spears and Mary J. actually been allowed to sing one of their own songs (ala Beyonce with Coldplay), I would have put this higher.
My apologies to the Britney Gays™, but on a positive note, Brit Brit sounded, looked and moved like a diva! #NeverForget
7. Michael Jackson in 1993 at Super Bowl XXVII
Whatever your feelings are about Michael Jackson‘s life off-stage, there’s no denying this performance was the game changer. The King of Pop was the first huge music star to undertake the halftime gig & take it to a new level – a classic diva tactic. His performance would inspire the halftime shows of future Super Bowl divas like Madonna, Beyonce and Lady Gaga.
It was one of the most watched events in TV history and the NFL made it their mission to book A-list acts going forward. The setlist featured Jam, Billie Jean, Black or White, We Are the World & Heal the World and ended with Michael singing alongside hundreds of children from around the world.
This halftime show is truly legendary and also serves as a bookmark in Michael’s legacy. Six months after the Super Bowl, Michael would go on to be accused of child sexual abuse for the first time.
6. Janet Jackson in 2004 at Super Bowl XXXVIII
Before the wardrobe malfunction, before Nipplegate, before Justin Timberlake threw her under the bus, before Les Moonves tried to destroy her career and before any of Janet Jackson‘s halftime show became a global scandal, the set included performances by Jessica Simpson (she actually just yells an intro), Diddy (Bad Boy for Life, Mo Money Mo Problems), Nelly (Hot in Herre) and Kid Rock (Bawitdaba, Cowboy). ‘Memba that? No? Don’t worry, hardly anybody else does.
What I remember is that Janet sang and danced her ass off to All For You & Rhythm Nation before JT pretended to not know he was going to expose her right breast during Rock Your Body. I’ll have you ruined by the end of this song!
History was made, fines were imposed, Janet was crucified and justice still needs to be served. #JusticeForJanet
5. Prince in 2007 at Super Bowl XLI
Prince in heels with a Rosie the Riveter headwrap in the pouring (purple) rain. Yes, yes, yasssss!
Only a real diva can battle Mother Nature and win!
The set list: Let’s Go Crazy, Baby I’m a Star, Proud Mary, All Along the Watchtower, Best of You, Purple Rain.
Fun fact: Straight guys often regard this as the best halftime show ever. I love it, just wish he included When Doves Cry or other hits over the covers.
Special shout out to the guitar solo projected onto a sheet aka the shadow malfunction. This is what it sounds like when censors cry!
4. Lady Gaga in 2017 at Super Bowl LI
Starting off with an aerial drone light show, unifying anthem God Bless America and protest song This Land is Your Land, quoting the Pledge of Allegiance’s “with liberty and justice for all” and faux diving off the roof of the stadium, Lady Gaga‘s halftime show was patriotic, spectacular & subversive without even humming one bar of her own song.
Gaga is arguably the biggest LGBT rights advocate of her pop generation, so to sing Born This Way with the lyrics “No matter gay, straight, or bi Lesbian, transgendered (sic) life” at the Super Bowl was not only expected and on brand but historic. Her full set list consisted of Poker Face, Born This Way, Just Dance, Million Reasons and Bad Romance.
On that night we were all little monsters, put our paws up & watched a star be reborn.
3. Beyonce in 2013 at Super Bowl XLVII & in 2016 at Super Bowl L
A diva is a female version of a hustler, and no one hustles like Beyonce.
Beyonce murders every performance, almost to her detriment. Her halftime show was beyond. The singing (Love on Top, Crazy in Love, End of Time, Baby Boy, Bootylicious, Independent Women, Single Ladies, Halo) the choreo, the Destiny’s Child reunion, all of it on point. I’m still gagging over Kelly’s bangs & Michelle’s hop jump entrance.
(unpopular opinion alert!)
Beyonce brings Super Bowl level quality to all her shows. To quote Queen Bey herself, “Flawless.” And that’s the problem. Re-watching this now you almost don’t know if it was from The Mrs. Carter, Formation, On The Run I & II tours, Coachella or an award show. It’s lost some of it’s impact. It’s grandeur. It’s ‘this is the big MF moment.’ Everything shouldn’t be the Super Bowl, but for Beyonce everything is and that makes the Super Bowl now seem less special.
Even while watching it back in 2013, on the heels of Madonna‘s monster of a show the year before, I thought it needed just a tad more pizzazz, some more zhuzh, a little more spectacular spectacular, because it was the SUPER BOWL and not the Mrs. Carter, Formation, On the Run I &II tours, Coachella or an award show moment.
OK, everyone breathe. This is MY OPINION. Step back, Beyhive. Do not hurt me. I still bow down. I do. I promise, I still love Beyonce. HELP!!!!!
Then three years later, Beyonce was back again and this time providing that pizzazz/zhuzh moment to Coldplay‘s (and oh no Bruno Mars, again!) halftime show.
For the first time Beyonce got political referencing the Black Panthers and also paid homage to Michael Jackson with her outfit. She sang Formation & Crazy in Love, and as per usual, didn’t blink.
She stole the show. She was the show. The Super Bowl was saved!
Make no mistake, Beyonce is the headliner even when she’s the guest star. All hail, Beyonce!
Ok, so are we friends again?
2. Madonna in 2012 at Super Bowl XLVI
Eight years after Janet’s wardrobe malfunction, Madonna was the first female solo artist to headline the Super Bowl. So naturally the Queen of Pop arrived with all the pomp & circumstance on her golden throne.
From there it continued in all its over the top, decadent, glamorous glory orchestrated with royal precision and announcing to the world to get ready because the night’s main event had started. The Madonna Bowl had arrived and with it dancers, gladiators, costumes, acrobatics, LED screens and a choir led by Cee Lo Green. She even managed to talk Nicki Minaj & MIA into playing her sidekick head cheerleaders. INSANE. (In all fairness, I wasn’t a huge fan of including LMFAO, but I guess they did have one of the biggest songs the previous year.)
Her Madgesty gave us Vogue, Music, Party Rock Anthem/Sexy And I Know It, Give Me All Your Luvin’, Open Your Heart and Like a Prayer.
In all, it was more than a show. It was a spectacle. It was theater. It was a circus and a club and a pep rally and a church service. It was a religious experience. And I was dead and brought back to life.
In that moment, Madonna ushered in the new era of the Super Bowl Pop Diva™ and paved the way for Beyonce, Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, J.Lo and, hopefully someday, Rihanna and Pink. And she did it all at the young age of 53.
Always remember kids, there’s only one Queen and that’s Madonna.
1. Diana Ross in 1996 at Super Bowl XXX
A true diva knows how to make a grand entrance and an even grander exit.
Let’s just get it out of the way. You can’t spell diva without a D and the D in diva stands for Diana Ross.
Back in 1996, Diana Ross did multiple on-set costume changes, sang Stop in the Name of Love, Baby Love, You Can’t Hurry Love, Why Do Fools Fall in Love, Chain Reaction, Reach Out & Touch Someone’s Hand, Ain’t No Mountain High Enough, I Will Survive and then got airlifted out of the Sun Devil Stadium with her feet hanging over the side. OUT OF A HELICOPTER!
Your helicopter in 5, Miss Ross! Miss Ross has left the building!
In the Super Bowl you go big or go home, unless you’re Diana Ross and then you go big and go home …in a helicopter!
Dirty Diana did THAT! She is the Supreme! The Boss! Icons & Legends, only!
No one will ever top this. Do not even try. No, ma’am. Forget it.
Here’s the full performance, because you must.
Honorable Mention: New Kids on the Block in 1991 at Super Bowl XXV
No, they aren’t divas, you just have to see it to believe it.
The theme was It’s A Small World with Disney characters, 2000 actual kids and the New Kids on the Block, natch!
The NKOTB Step by Step magic starts at the 10:30 mark. Enjoy!
Regardless of your plans on Sunday, I hope everyone has a lot of fun.
All hail J.LO and Shakira!
*DISCLAIMER: This story has been updated since initially being published on February 3, 2019.
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Where were you on Monday, February 2nd, 2009? Ten years ago, equality was a priority in the White House, Lady Gaga had her first #1 song and Instagram was non-existent. But on that night gay culture was forever changed with the launch of a little show on a little network hosted by a larger-than-life personality known as a #RuPaulsDragRace .The budget and ratings may have been much smaller then, but the impact was felt. Little did we realize that 18 years after Paris Is Burning, a new class of gays, kweens & Kardashians were about to have their weaves snatched by being ru-introduced to terms like realness, shade and read. More importantly, #RuPaul and the show put a spotlight on stories & amplified voices that were often silenced or overlooked and inspired a new generation to have pride in who they are & lip sync for their lives! Now everyone & their mutha wants to be a kween & mainstream outlets like Entertainment Tonight & People magazine cover #drag on the reg. Condragulations, RuPaul’s Drag Race. Happy 10th anniversary. Shantay you stay! ?????️? #RPDR #dragqueen #LGBT #gay