With the death of musician and cultural icon Prince, it is typical to look back on his illustrious career and all his accomplishments. In the world of both music and films, Prince has definitely left his mark on the world. However, in the world of sports, the Minnesota-born superstar left fans with a breathtaking halftime performance in Super Bowl XLI. But was it the best performance in the game’s history? Super Bowls have been around for half a century and has had some amazing shows that rival the game in entertainment. That being said, this is my list of the best Halftime performance in the Super Bowl.
5. Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (Super Bowl XLII)
Bruce Springsteen’s performance was in the years where the game only offered older rock musicians, such as The Who and Tom Petty. A big issue with that is that the musician is out of their prime and they can’t move like they use to. I love The Who, but it’s not 1970, and Pete Townshend can’t jump around stage like he used to. Springsteen, once again, proved why he is one of music’s best live shows, opening Halftime by leaning backwards at a 30 degree angle and immediately tearing into “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out.” At the age of 59, “The Boss” showed the age is nothing but a number.
4. Beyonce (Super Bowl XLVII & 50)
If the NFL chooses to have Beyonce to do the Halftime Show forever, I’ll be okay with that. She commands the stage and center of attention like no other performer over the last decade has. The stage is made for her. Now I personally don’t like when there are multiple performers at the show because they usually have no connection musically between them (why is Katy Perry performing with Lenny Kravitz and Missy Elliot?), and someone will get upstaged. Super Bowl 50 was the perfect example because it wasn’t until I re-watched the performance that I remembered Coldplay was the main show. Beyonce took the spotlight in only four minutes. And Super Bowl XLVII…She literally knocked out the power so she gets a place on the list.
3. U2 (XXXVI)
The perfect band for the perfect day. With September 11th just four months in the past, U2 delivered the most inspiring and tear-jerking performance of any show. After opening with “Beautiful Day,” the banner of all the lives lost that day was brought up from behind the band. Bono sang “MLK.” The Edge played the opening to “Where the Streets Have No Name.” Then Bono gave a primal yell and sprinted around the stage. The band played the rest of the song, and it closed with Bono revealing an American flag under his jacket. A band from the other side of the Atlantic gave the Halftime show the U.S. needed.
2. Michael Jackson (XXVII)
Consider everything I said about Beyonce and her ability to dominate the stage. Michael was that, more and then some. All you have to do is watch the first three minutes of the performance. The King of Pop jumps on the stage, doesn’t move a muscle, and gets the three minutes of non-stop cheering. When he decided to actually move, he showed the stadium why he is “The King of Pop.” If I have one complaint — and the main reason he is not numero uno on the list — is the fact he didn’t sing. He did start to sing at the end when he did a remix of “Heal the World” and “We are the World,” but for most of his performance, audio was playing as he danced. And I am completely okay with this. No one said that Buddy Rich could only play the drums.
1. Prince (XLI)
It is close to impossible to give number one to anyone but Prince. Not because of his recent passing (Michael Jackson is gone, and U2 had the backdrop of Sept 11th), but because of three words: “Art from adversity.” Unlike with the vast majority of Super Bowls, Mother Nature did not give the stadium a clean and sunny day. Instead, the Super Bowl was played on a wet, rainy field with raindrops visible on the camera. And how did Prince begin his Halftime show? With his massive trademark symbol he was performing on explode with pryotynetics and a bolt of lightning from the sky. To follow that, we were entertained with a combination of some of Prince’s best known song like “Let’s go Crazy” and “Baby I’m a Star” with classic songs “All Along the Watchtower,” “Proud Mary” and “We Will Rock You.” Finally, to close out the show, what better song on the rainy stage than “Purple Rain.” Singing all his songs, showing off his skills with the guitar, getting the crowd involved, and setting a standard in Halftime shows that will be close to impossible to follow.