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Putting On A Show: Best Super Bowl Halftime Performances

There was little to say that the first AFL-NFL World Championship game would be successful when the was played at the Los Angeles Coliseum on Jan. 15, 1967. At the box office, it wasn’t a hit, with only 61,946 people coming to watch Green Bay 35-10. The game would be renamed Super Bowl in time for the third edition of the game, which featured the New York Jets upsetting the Baltimore Colts.

While the event eventually grew into a behemoth, Super Bowl odds on the game becoming a big money maker seemed kind of dim at first. While the halftime shows now featured top-list stars, that wasn’t the case in 1967. At the first game, trumpeter Al Hirt and marching bands from the University of Arizona and Grambling College entertained the masses at halftime. 

Since then, the NFL has produced some strong halftime performances that were notable for the good they were or, in some cases, how absurd they still seem today.

Calling on Carol

While the era of marching band halftime shows would last for a long time, Carol Channing would be the first star to perform during the 1970 game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings. The Tony Award star wasn’t the centerpiece of the performance, however. 

The show featured the Southern University marching band performing a tribute to Mardis Gras and reenacted the 1815 Battle of New Orleans.

Channing must not have done too badly during his performance in 1970, as she was invited to perform again two years later.

King of Pop Breaks Through

Michael Jackson elevated the expectations for what a Super Bowl halftime show could be during Super Bowl XXVII between the Buffalo Bills and Dallas Cowboys. Jackson, whose performance would essentially relegate the marching bands to the history books, put on a show that was more memorable than the game it interrupted. The Cowboys beat up Buffalo 52-17.

Jackson majorly benefitted from the Super Bowl appearance coupled with an appearance at the 1993 American Music Awards, which helped sales of his album surge by 83 percent The Dangerous Album would end up selling more than 5 million copies.

Janet and Justin

A major shift in the acts the NFL allowed to perform at the Super Bowl shifted after Super Bowl XXXVIII. During a performance that featured Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson, Timberlake ripped off part of Jackson’s shirt mid-song, exposing her chest. The television cameras only showed it briefly, but the damage was done.

The NFL would require more conservative acts, with less chance of controversy for the next few seasons. While the league was miffed at Timberlake at the time, the incident didn’t sour their relationship with the pop star.

Timberlake would be brought back for the Super Bowl LII show in Minneapolis. The second time around, Timberlake’s act went off without incident.

Prince Cuts Through the Not-So-Purple Rain

Super Bowl XLI featured a wild night of weather in Miami. By the time halftime rolled in, Prince was set to perform and had to do so in the elements. What made his performance special was how he performed in the conditions.

Prince played a Foo Fighters cover along with several of his greatest hits. He also played several long guitar solos in the rain. It was a unique experience, even for people who may not have been a fan of his coming into the game.

Got the Band Back Together

For the 2022 Super Bowl in Los Angeles, there was an effort made to get major hip hops stars from the 1990s and 2000s together. It was nice to see Snoop Dog, Dr. Dre, and Eminem reunited for a halftime show that whizzed through much of the music of the era. Mary J. Blige also joined a crew that featured Kendrick Lamar as well to represent a younger generation.

With Los Angeles again involved in professional football, it was a fun scene to witness.

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