From its humble marching band beginnings, to the tacky multimedia spectacles of the 80s, to 1993’s simply revolutionary performance by Michael Jackson, the Super Bowl’s halftime show has changed dramatically over the years.

On Sunday (February 5th), the (so-called) Queen of Pop, Madonna, will be taking center stage at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana, for the XLVI halftime show. The announcement MDNA would be providing this year’s interval entertainment was not without its critics, but before the blogosphere can go branding Madonna’s marvel the worst halftime show ever, there are certainly some stinkers the “Material Girl” has to beat…

Super Bowl XLV (2011)

Christina Aguilera got the Super Bowl XLV off to a bad start in 2011 after the warbler infamously fluffed the words to the “Star Spangled Banner.” There was little improvement when the Black Eyed Peas took to the stage for what was later branded the “worst halftime show ever.” Not even the gaudy pyrotechnics and field full o’dancers could distract us from Fergie,, and Taboo’s vocal fails, which reached their ghastly peaks when Fergie absolutely slaughtered Guns ‘n’ Roses‘ “Sweet Child O’Mine” alongside an overly rhinestoned Slash.

Super Bowl XXV (1991)

Cute projectile vomited all over 1991’s Super Bowl halftime show. During the game’s interval, Florida’s Tampa Stadium was swarmed by 2000 traumatized children and a scattering of costumed Disney characters, all singing Fantastyland’s “It’s A Small World“. As if things couldn’t get anymore surreal, the jock announcer then introduced New Kids On The Block to the stage with the ultimate capitalist utterance: “And now to honor our armed forces’ children, Coca-Cola proudly presents the New Kids On The Block.” The Boston boy band then exploded on to “Step By Step” before the “It’s a Small World” reprise cuddlefest concluded what has to be one of the most sickeningly sweet halftime shows, ever!

Super Bowl XXXV (2001)

Curse the person who thought it would be a cool idea to let MTV produce the 2001 Super Bowl halftime show. The result was exactly what you would expect from the tween network that year – pop, pop and more pop.


Headlining the show were poster boys, *N Sync, who sported so much denim that January evening you wanted to scoop your eyes out. An unnecessary amount of choreography later and wrinkled rockers, Aerosmith, arrived in a poor attempt to inject some (Dad-)rock into the proceedings. Having completed that “song from Armageddon,” it was back to the cotton candy, with Justin‘s former squeeze, Britney Spears, joining in to exchange some uncomfortable titillations with Steven Tyler. And let us not forget that totally awkward side-order of Nelly and Mary J. Blige…oh wait, we already did.

Super Bowl XXIII  (1989)

Back in 1989, Super Bowl had yet to hone the art of the halftime show. That year’s interval spectacular, “Be Bop Bamboozled,” was instead a kitsch-laden skit which revolved around…wait for it…an Elvis Presley impersonator!

The irony is “Elvis Presto,” ahem, did not even sing one Presley song. The super-sequinned imitation crooner was instead hired to conduct the bamboozling “World’s Biggest Card Trick” to the wholly disinterested Super Bowl crowd. And we haven’t even mentioned the fact this halftime show was broadcast in a super shoddy 3D technology. Seriously, who thought any of this was a good idea? Or did the organizers mix up “Super Bowl” for “cheap Las Vegas wedding”?

Super Bowl XXXVIII (2004)

In 2004, Janet Jackson succeeded in upsetting an entire nation after confirming that she does, indeed, have breasts!

Oh, Jan…it could have been great. There you were, doing your thing to killer hits like “All for You” and “Rhythm Nation“. I mean, hey, we’ll ignore the excessive lip-syncing for now, as gurl, you were carrying forth the Jackson family’s Super Bowl banner in style.

And then out popped Justin Timberlake (who is lucky enough to feature twice on this list!). It all seemed perfectly innocent at first (well, as innocent as a song called “Rock Your Body” can be…). But then “it” happened.

Bet I have you naked by the end of this song,” crooned Timberlake, his hand gradually making its way towards Janet’s corset. A blink of the eye later and KAPOW, out detonates Miss Jackson’s boob, officially activating the pandemonium which was later to become known as “Nipplegate.”

Was it all planned, or was it all a mistake? Odds are, we’ll never know. Still, this infamous incident (which ultimately landed CBS with a fat $550,000 fine) certainly put Super Bowl’s halftime show under some serious censorship, with producers opting for safe, family-friendly (and most importantly, boob-free) acts like Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen for the next few years.