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Super Bowl halftime show: The 10 greatest performances, from Rihanna to Prince

The 58th edition of the Super Bowl will take place tonight (Sunday 11 February) at the Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Aside from the game itself, the biggest talking point of the Super Bowl is the halftime show, where some of the world’s most famous artists – from Bruce Springsteen to Katy Perry – have entertained fans at the stadium.

This time around, all eyes will be on Usher at halftime, as the R&B prepares to put on a spectacular event comprising his biggest hits.

Last year, Rihanna made jaws drop not only with her incredible performance, but with her shock pregancy reveal.

Meanwhile, 2022’s show was a hip-hop celebration, with joint headliners Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, Mary J Blige and Dr Dre.

Ahead of this year's Super Bowl, here are 10 of the all-time greatest halftime shows.

10) Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers – 2008

Tom Petty headlined the Super Bowl halftime show in 2008 (Getty)
Tom Petty headlined the Super Bowl halftime show in 2008 (Getty)

No frills, just good old-fashioned rock and roll. Tom Petty’s performance is often omitted from rankings of the best Super Bowl halftime shows, but we’re including it here because he absolutely crushed it. Kicking things off with “American Girl”, he followed it up with “Won’t Back Down”, “Full Moon Fever” and the emotional “Free Fallin’”, rounding off with a stirring rendition of “Runnin’ Down a Dream”.

9) Rihanna – 2023

Rihanna performing at the 2023 Super Bowl (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Rihanna performing at the 2023 Super Bowl (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

The Barbadian artist reigned over the 2023 Super Bowl with a first-class medley of pop showstoppers featuring “We Found Love”, “Work” and “Wild Thoughts”.

While RiRi’s performance was indisputably excellent, undoubtedly the biggest frenzy was caused by her red boilersuit, which revealed a bump that confirmed the pop star was pregnant with her and rapper A$AP Rocky’s second child.

It was classic from the “Only Girl in the World” star: attention-grabbing, headline-generating, full-bodied drama, and we loved it.

8) Paul McCartney– 2005

McCartney preceded the pop stars trying to outdo one another with extravagant stage designs and lavish costumes. Instead, he offered four beautifully played songs, of which the final one, “Hey Jude”, prompted an epic singalong with the crowd at Jacksonville’s EverBank Field Stadium.

7) Madonna – 2012

One of the few to outdo Katy Perry’s 2015 entrance was Madonna, three years earlier, who appeared on a giant golden chariot led by about a hundred buff men dressed as Roman soldiers. She brought out Nicki Minaj and MIA for “Give Me All Your Luvin’” and also performed hits “Like a Prayer”, “Music” and “Express Yourself”.

6) Katy Perry – 2015

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

There are few entrances as grand as standing on top of a giant golden lion with glowing eyes. Katy Perry went all out for her halftime show in 2015 with performances of “Roar”, “Dark Horse”, “California Gurls”, “Firework” and “Teenage Dream”. And who can forget the notorious Left Shark and his poor coordination?

5) Bruce Springsteen– 2009

“Put the chicken fingers down and turn your television all the way up,” the Boss ordered. Springsteen’s 12-minute set started out with “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” and also included “Born to Run”, “Glory Days” and “Working on a Dream”. Springsteen will make a cameo of sorts this year, as he stars in an advertising spot for Jeep.

4) Lady Gaga – 2017

One of the most outlandish halftime shows in recent memory, Lady Gaga began her performance by hurtling herself from the top of the stadium (attached to a harness, of course) – sparking a thousand memes. Once safely on the ground, she thrilled audiences with her biggest hits: “Poker Face”, “Born This Way”, “Telephone”, “Just Dance”, “Million Reasons” and “Bad Romance”.

3) Jennifer Lopez and Shakira

Shakira’s rock-heavy opener felt like a direct riposte to the tired notion that men are the only ones who can put on a show. The “Hips Don’t Lie” singer wielded her electric guitar like a weapon for “Empire”, before J-Lo touched down from the Empire State building – a nod to her native Bronx – for a frenzied and superbly choreographed series of dance routines. The duo didn’t so much erase as obliterate Maroon 5’s excruciating Super Bowl halftime show from the year before, with a high-octane, all-guns-blazing performance that went big on Latin pride.

2) Beyoncé– 2013

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Beyoncé basically ties with Prince for the greatest all-time Super Bowl performance. It was bold, it was fierce, it was virtually flawless. Bursting onto the stage with “Crazy in Love” after an acapella “Love on Top”, she threw down some of her best dance moves, before moving on to other hits including “End of Time” and “Baby Boy”. Lastly, there was a hysteria-inducing Destiny’s Child reunion with Michelle Williams and Kelly Rowland – a performance so powerful, the lights at the stadium cut out when it ended.

1) Prince – 2007

Prince performing during the Super Bowl in 2007 (Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
Prince performing during the Super Bowl in 2007 (Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The greatest. Of course, the Purple One wasn’t responsible for the rain that began to pour during his hair-raising 12-minute performance, which included covers of “We Will Rock You” and “All Along the Watchtower”. But the timing was so perfect, you wanted to believe he was. Following renditions of “1999/Baby I’m a Star”, Prince closed on “Purple Rain” in what has to be ranked among one of his greatest live performances of that song.

Follow the latest updates from the 2024 Super Bowl halftime show here.