The Super Bowl is the biggest football game in the world as millions tune in to watch the contest that decides the NFL champion. However, the Super Bowl has become such a cultural phenomenon that non-football fans even tune in to watch the commercials and experience the pageantry. One of the most anticipated aspects of the game is the Super Bowl halftime show.
- 10. Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, Super Bowl LIV – 104.1 million viewers
- 9. Justin Timberlake, Super Bowl LII – 106.6 million
- 8. Black Eyed Peas, Super Bowl XLV – 110.2 million
- 7. Beyoncé, Super Bowl XLVII – 110.8 million
- 6. Madonna, Super Bowl XLVI – 114 million
- 5. Bruno Mars, Super Bowl XVLIII – 115.3 million
- 4. Coldplay, Super Bowl 50 – 115.5 million
- 3. Lady Gaga, Super Bowl LI – 118 million
- 2. Katy Perry, Super Bowl XLIX – 121 million
- 1. Rihanna, Super Bowl LVII – 121.017 million
After Michael Jackson’s performance in 1993, the Super Bowl halftime show became a rite of passage for music royalty. Only the biggest and most popular stars are given the chance to perform at halftime. U2, Paul McCartney, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Beyoncé, and Lady Gaga have performed at the Super Bowl. Usher will add his name to the list when he performs at Super Bowl LVIII. Because of the massive audience, the Super Bowl halftime show is arguably the biggest concert in the world. Below are the 10 most-viewed Super Bowl halftime shows.
At Super Bowl LIV in Miami, the halftime show featured Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, two of the most prominent Latin pop stars of the last 30 years. In just under 15 minutes, J-Lo and Shakira combined to perform 16 songs, including popular anthems like Empire, Hips Don’t Lie, Jenny from the Block, Waiting for Tonight, and Waka Waka (This Time for Africa).
Each song featured impressively choreographed dance routines from each woman. Before becoming one of the most-streamed artists in the world in 2022, Bad Bunny joined Shakira onstage to sing I Like It and Chantaje. Lopez also had a guest on stage at one point when J Balvin accompanied her for a medley of Que Calor and Mi Gente.
During the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show, Justin Timberlake pulled off a part of Janet Jackson’s costume to reveal her right breast. Many fans called CBS to complain about the notorious incident. It remains one of the most controversial moments in halftime show history. Fourteen years later, Timberlake received his shot at redemption with the opportunity to perform during Super Bowl LII in Minnesota.
Timberlake performed a medley of his smash hits, including Rock Your Body, Señorita, and SexyBack. Unfortunately, Timberlake did not reunite with NSYNC. However, the Suit & Tie singer paid tribute to Minneapolis-native Prince, who died two years prior.
Considering the Super Bowl will be a good night for one fan base, the NFL aptly invited the band behind I Gotta Feeling, the Black Eyed Peas, to perform in Arlington, Texas, for Super Bowl XLV. I Gotta Feeling was on the setlist along with Boom Boom Pow, Let’s Get It Started, and Pump It. Special guests included guitarist Slash for a rousing rendition of Sweet Child O’ Mine and Usher for OMG.
The Black Eyed Peas were the first modern act to perform at the Super Bowl since the Timberlake-Jackson incident in 2004. Inviting the Black Eyed Peas to perform during the Super Bowl was viewed as the NFL’s way of attracting more young people to watch the game. Even though the performance was widely panned, it was the most-watched halftime show at the time.
It wouldn’t be the biggest event in the country without the presence of Queen Bey. In 2013, Beyoncé took the stage at Super Bowl XLVII and broke the internet as it became one of the most tweeted-about moments in Twitter’s history. After using a Vince Lombardi speech as her opener, Beyoncé jumped into her iconic discography, including Run the World (Girls), Love on Top, and Crazy in Love.
Unlike Timberlake, Beyoncé used this opportunity to reunite with Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child. The famous girl group performed Independent Women Part I and Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It). Beyoncé is so iconic that she returned to the Super Bowl halftime stage as a guest of Coldplay.
Since the King of Pop once performed at the Super Bowl, it’s only fair that the Queen of Pop had her turn. Madonna had the honor of performing at Super Bowl XLVI. Madonna used every single second of her 13-minute set, as the show felt like an experience more than a concert. After opening with the iconic Vogue, Madonna teamed with LMFAO to sing a mash-up of Music and Party Rock Anthem.
The LMFAO appearance kicked off a string of guests in the subsequent songs. Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. joined Madonna on stage for Give Me All Your Luvin’. Then the international popstar teamed with CeeLo Green and local drumlines and choir singers for Open Your Heart, Express Yourself, and Like a Prayer. Madonna was a true showperson throughout the performance, proving she still had the “it” factor.
Talented doesn’t even begin to describe Bruno Mars. Singer, songwriter, guitarist, dancer, drummer, and producer are only some of the titles held by Mars. The multihyphenate hit the stage at Super Bowl XVLIII with his band, The Hooligans. Dressed in gold jackets, Mars dazzled the crowd at MetLife Stadium, the rare outdoor venue in a cold city to have hosted the Super Bowl.
Mars has a high approval rating with the general public thanks to songs like Billionaire, Locked Out of Heaven, and Treasure. Toward the end of the setlist, the shirtless Red Hot Chili Peppers joined Mars and the Hooligans for a jam session as they sang Give It Away. Mars finished the performance with Just the Way You Are as a tribute to the United States Armed Forces.
Coldplay is one of the biggest musical acts on the planet. They are one of the few bands capable of playing sold-out stadiums on six continents. Booking Coldplay for the monumental Super Bowl 50 was an easy decision for the NFL because the band writes anthems designed to be sung by fans in large venues.
The band’s first four songs of the halftime show – Yellow, Viva la Vida, Paradise, and Adventure of a Lifetime – all fall under the crowd-pleasing category. Then, Coldplay made the smart move to bring out Mark Ronson, Bruno Mars, and Beyoncé for renditions of Uptown Funk and Formation. Fix You capped off a fairly successful and memorable halftime show.
Lady Gaga jumping off the top of the NRG Stadium is possibly the most memorable entrance to the halftime show in Super Bowl history. Gaga is no stranger to theatrics, so pulling off the daredevil stunt to start the Super Bowl LI halftime show was a piece of cake.
Gaga’s performance was pure electricity, as she passionately sang and danced to Poker Face, Born This Way, and Just Dance. Gaga was praised for mentioning the LGBTQ+ community during the show. The Grammy-winning singer ended the night with Million Reasons and Bad Romance, capping off an excellent halftime show by one of the best to ever do it.
In 2024, Katy Perry spends most of her time as a judge on American Idol. Ten years ago, Perry was one of the most influential pop stars in music. Because she has not released an album since 2020, it’s easy to forget Perry’s impact on pop culture. Perry’s third album, Teenage Dream, became the second album in history to have five No. 1 singles, an honor she shares with Michael Jackson. Perry proved her popularity with her halftime show at Super Bowl XLIX, which was the most-watched halftime show until 2023.
Perry kicked off her halftime performance with Roar as she sat atop a massive mechanical lion. Soon after, Lenny Kravitz joined in for I Kissed a Girl, which Perry followed with Teenage Dream and California Gurls. Missy Elliot had her moment to shine by performing Get Ur Freak On, Work It, and Lose Control. Despite these engaging performances, Perry’s halftime show is best remembered for Left Shark, a backup dancer who went viral for their crazy moves.
At the top of the Super Bowl mountain stands Rihanna. Bad Girl Riri owns the record for the most-watched Super Bowl halftime show (121.017 million viewers). Super Bowl LVII marked Rihanna’s first live performance in over five years. Rihanna reminded the world of her sensational discography, including Bitch Better Have My Money, Where Have You Been, We Found Love, Rude Boy, and Work.
Did I mention Rihanna did this all while pregnant? It’s arguably the greatest pregnancy announcement ever recorded. Rihanna closed her set with a trio of hits: Run This Town, Umbrella, and Diamonds. Even in the moment, Rihanna’s halftime show felt like an instant classic, and it still holds up one year later.