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Super Bowl Halftime Shows: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Rose T.

by Rose T. in Entertainment

Nov 21, 2015 · 7:34 AM PST

Katy Perry Super Bowl Halftime Show

What makes a great Super Bowl halftime show? According to the NFL, it’s a combination of big name music acts, marching bands, patriotism, and pyrotechnics. It’s kinda like a Michael Bay directed music video, but with even more product placement.

Prior to 90s, the Super Bowl halftime show were nothing like the full blown entertainment spectacular that they are today. Ahead of the Super Bowl’s 50th anniversary, we’ve been highlighting some of the best, worst (actually mostly worst) and weirdest moments, and not even the halftime entertainment is safe. Here’s a look back at the most memorable (and forgettable) halftime shows in recent history.

The Good:

Prince (Super Bowl XLI)

If singing on a giant phallic shaped stage was enough to get you excited, then Prince’s erotic guitar solo probably gave you an eargasm. His Super Bowl set was electric, and full of enough testosterone to fuel a Cialis commercial. It even started showering during Purple Rain. It doesn’t get much more perfect than that. Game, blouses!

Michael Jackson (Super Bowl XXVII)

Few performances have come close to MJ’s legendary halftime show at the Rose Bowl in 1993. From the moment he rocketed onto the stage, the King of Pop commanded the audience: no collaborations necessary. The thrilling medley included iconic hits like Billie Jean, Black and White and Jam. The show ended with a touching rendition of Heal the World, a song whose socially conscious message is still relevant 20 years later.

Paul McCartney (Super Bowl XXXVIII )

Following the fallout of “Nipplegate” (if for some reason you’re unfamiliar, read on), the NFL brought in Sir Paul as a peace offering to angry viewers. Although he was considered a safe bet by many, few were disappointed with the former Beatles’ singer. As with all of his performances, McCartney delivered an energetic medley, which climaxed with a Hey Jude sing-a-long. No cheesy collaborations. Just pure artistry.

The Bad:

The Black Eyed Peas and Usher (Super Bowl XLV)

The Black Eyed Peas were riding on a wave of success, until they made the mistake of bringing their auto-tuned studio sound to a live setting. What resulted was a full blown assault on the ear canals. What little hope Slash’s cameo could provide was quickly lost the moment Fergie started murdering Sweet Child O’ Mine with her voice. Usher came too, for some reason, secretly hoping viewers would forget he was ever there. After this cringe worthy performance, The Black Eyed Peas fell into obscurity, where they rightly belong.

Tony Bennett and Patti LaBelle (Super Bowl XXIX)

In an effort to promote the release of their new theme ride, Disney produced an Indiana Jones themed halftime show that even Harrison Ford wouldn’t touch with a 50-foot pole. The premise? The Vince Lombardi trophy was stolen and Indy and Marion are sent to locate it. Throw in an awkward soundtrack backed by Patti LaBelle and Tony Bennett, and you have a recipe for disaster.

The Blues Brothers (Super Bowl XXXI)

How do you screw up a Super Bowl Halftime Show featuring ZZ Top and James Brown? Replace the late John Belushi with his mediocre younger brother, then give him lots of air time. To make things worse, James Brown and ZZ Top both pre-recorded their vocals, destroying what little credibility this Oscar Mayer Weiner produced trainwreck could muster. Something was funky, and it certainly wasn’t the Godfather of Soul.

The Ugly:

Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson (Super Bowl XXXVIII)

2004 will go down in history as the most infamous Super Bowl Halftime Show of all time. The highly publicized wardrobe malfunction known as “Nipplegate” altered the course of history. Ms. Jackson was blacklisted from MTV. The FCC cracked down on on-air indecency. Nipplegate even gave rise to Youtube. Ten years later, Janet is left wondering how one bedazzled boob ruined her career.

(Photo credit: By Huntley Paton from Huntersville, N.C., USA Uploaded by C.Jonel (Katy Perry at Super Bowl XLIX) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)

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