This Sunday is the Super Bowl, the perfect opportunity to curl up on the couch with some epic snacks and — oh, what’s that? Been doing that all year already? Well, there’s nothing like live entertainment to liven things up, and early rumblings about The Weeknd’s halftime show indicate we should be expecting a pretty nuts performance. In between pigs in blankets and scanning the seats for Tom Brady’s supportive kids, we’re going to hit with a musical performance on which the artist has reportedly spent $7 million of his own money to make sure the theatrics stack up. It seems like The Weeknd knows he has some pretty steep competition when it comes to electrifying Super Bowl half time shows past.
Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, and Katy Perry have all taken football’s biggest day of the year by storm, and last year’s performance by Jennifer Lopez and Shakira may have raised the bar even higher. Whether you’re in it this Sunday for a love of the game or tuning in for halftime alone, here are the best shows of recent years to get pumped for this weekend.
Jennifer Lopez & Shakira, 2020
In addition to killer dance routines and fabulous fashion, J.Lo and Shakira made a pointed show of highlighting their Latina roots and even featuring young dancers in cages at their explosive 2020 show, a representation of their protest against the United States’ practice of family separation and keeping children in cages at the U.S.-Mexico border. Lopez’s daughter Emme made a memorable debut with a vocal solo, and they proudly flaunted the Puerto Rican flag in honor of their heritage at a time when immigrants’ rights in the U.S. have been starkly threatened.
Lady Gaga, 2017
Lady Gaga was in peak Gaga form at the 2017 Super Bowl, serving up spirited versions of “Poker Face,” Born This Way,” “Bad Romance,” and more. She also enlisted a swarm of drones, leapt off the roof of the stadium, and infused the entire show with metallic Gaga glamour madness. The only, tiny complaint? We wish Gaga would have brought up a fellow performer to join her in the show.
Katy Perry, Lenny Kravitz, & Missy Elliot, 2015
Two words: Left. Shark. Five years later, Left Shark’s antics are still burned into our mind, but Katy Perry, Missy Elliott, and Lenny Kravitz were all memorable in their own right too. Perry shot through the sky singing “Firework,” rode a giant lion singing “Roar,” and generally proved that she can rock the hell out of a theme. We’d be happy to see her back at the Super Bowl any day.
Beyoncé & Destiny’s Child, 2013
Picture it: The year is 2013. The Ravens are playing the 49ers. At halftime, the lights dim: Then, suddenly, Beyoncé. One Beyoncé figure lit up in flames, and the real Beyoncé, standing on a pedestal and ready to rock your world with renditions of “Crazy in Love,” “Baby Boy,” “Halo,” and — just when you think you’re going to explode from how amazing it all is — she brings in the rest of Destiny’s Child to sing “Single Ladies.” This performance killed. No notes.
Madonna, LMFAO, Nicki Minaj, & Cee Lo Green, 2012
What do you get when Madonna, Nicki Minaj, and Cee Lo Green walk into a room? A kickass Super Bowl performance, apparently. Who would’ve guessed? Madonna showed up as a Greek goddess carried by a group of soldiers, sang a mashup of “Music” with LMFAO’s “Party Rock Anthem,” and featured Nicki Minaj and MIA on her performance of “Give Me All Your Luvin.” It was pop heaven — and a performance only Madonna could have pulled off.
Britney Spears, Aerosmith, Mary J. Blige, Nelly & ‘NSYNC, 2001
Technically, the 2001 halftime show was billed as an ‘NSYNC and Aerosmith collaboration — but fans truly lost their minds when Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, and Nelly joined them on the stage for “Walk This Way.” Other highlights: Justin Timberlake shot fire out of his hands while singing “It’s Gonna Be Me,” Justin and Britney (who were dating at the time) performed a little duet, and Britney inexplicably wore a sock on one arm as an accessory.