Best and worst halftimes

Photo courtesy of Blake Israel

The world’s most anticipated music event has often ended in disappointment, but the Super Bowl halftime show has seen some of the most legendary performances to ever be featured on television. 

Rihanna gave the world a good show, but most people focused on her baby bump rather than the amazing songs.

It is disappointing that the takeaway will largely be her pregnancy considering she put together a set list containing all Billboard Hits as well as presented some of the most breathtaking visuals a halftime show has ever seen. 

Previous to that came Dr. Dre and his band of successes that showcased the evolution of rap in a sensational homage to California culture. Both of these past Super Bowls have showcased incredible artists that have set an incredibly high standard for the artist next year; however, prior to this came, in my mind, a four-year skid of lackluster performances. 

The Weeknd can get a pass considering he was gifted a pandemic as 2021 was his year to take the stage. I felt he gave a performance that would have been cool to be present for, but it did not translate well to TV nor did it engage me past the first song. 

Shakira and Jennifer Lopez had one of the more interesting shows, but beyond sex appeal, the songs were not common to everyone’s ear and
did not do much entertaining for me personally.

The 2019 show goes down as one of my least favorite shows ever, if not the worst I have ever seen. Maroon 5 headlined and the only large take away was an aged Adam Levine awkwardly stripping down to just pants; however, last year’s controversies showed how willing he was to strip no matter the circumstances. 

Maroon 5 managed to be worse than their predecessor: Justin Timberlake. Timberlake’s flop of a show was highlighted by an awkward selfie with a teenage boy in the stands which proceeded to trend higher on Twitter than the show itself. Timberlake also sang no largely recognizable songs besides “SexyBack,” which also just came off as awkward as he made seductive eyes at the camera. 

Previous to this four-year skid came Lady Gaga’s performance, which outshined the first half of the game that year. From jumping off the roof of the stadium as an entrance to stage diving into the crowd for the ending, she brought everything and then some to this performance. 

This is hands down my favorite halftime show of all time. The combination of song choice to choreography to visuals is just so satisfying and pleasing to watch and listen to. 

This show can only be rivaled by Prince’s 2007 show and Beyoncé’s 2013 Superdome sensation. Prince’s show is considered by most to be the best
halftime show of all time. 

Aided by the poor weather, Prince’s performance of “Purple Rain” was too good for words to describe and stole the whole show. Prince’s show was so legendary that Timberlake even tried to emulate it; he failed, but he still tried. 

Beyoncé’s show was pure vocals, visuals and fun. The reunion of Destiny’s Child just added so much more to this and contributed a heart warming feel to a show that was already balancing sexy, uplifting and sad songs. 

Her ability to command the stage with her powerful voice just took the show away and Beyoncé’s natural presence was more than enough to cement this as the top halftime show of all time.

Overall, the modern day Super Bowl halftime show has seen more flops than successes in my eyes, but when a show is successful, it sets high standards for those to follow. In the past two years, Dr. Dre and Rihanna have significantly raised the bar for what a halftime show can and should be. They truly did revive what was looking to be a consistent level of mediocrity within the shows. 

My all-time favorite shows have to go to Lady Gaga, Prince, Rihanna, Beyoncé and Dr. Dre in that order. 

These stars really brought their all to the show and it was clear they invested a lot of time in making the show their own rather than entrusting it to others to display their art publicly. 

As I previously expressed, Maroon 5 is my least favorite halftime show with Justin Timberlake following close behind. The fact that this pair was in consecutive years just makes it that much worse. 

Whoever decides to take on the challenge of being next year’s performer has very difficult shoes to fill, but one can only hope they too cement themselves as a legacy.