The Super Bowl halftime shows are manic, yet awe-inspiring. Often featuring the most prominent figures in pop culture, the half-time show aims to please well over 100 million viewers every year. But, how do they keep the audience happy?
Given that there are hundreds of millions of people watching the event, getting it right is critical. More often than not, things come off and the audience gleefully cheers the spectacle. However, on occasion, things really don’t go to plan.
We will highlight those years when things turned sour, with our list of the 10 worst Super Bowl halftime shows of all time – in no particular order. So, without further adieu, let’s get down to it.
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Top 10 Worst Super Bowl Halftime Shows
The Super Bowl is historically the most-watched major North American sport, with some of the highest yearly television broadcasting figures. As all the top-tier sportsbook providers look to post the odds for the Canadian pop star The Weeknd, who will take to the stage in the hope of doing a lot better than the 10 we’ve highlighted below!
1. Super Bowl XXXIV (2000)
The turn of the century was always going to be a bumpy road. As Enrique Iglesias and Christina Aguilera took to the stage, there was an air of anticipation for what Disney would bring to the Super Bowl.
But the moment people started coming out in weird costumes, we think everyone knew it was going to go downhill. Our suspicions were confirmed when Enrique and X-Tina started singing a melody nobody has ever heard of with the overwhelming sound of a flute behind it all. It really was a mess. The whole event felt like it was trying to be more international than it needed to be. The Super Bowl is American and it takes place in the United States – please keep it simple.
2. Super Bowl XX (1986)
The 1986 Super Bowl was run by a non-profit organization called “Up With People”, with the show delivering one of the flattest performances we’ve ever seen from a half-time show.
Onlookers expect fireworks and a grandiose show. But, what they got was quite different. A bland group of nameless people, playing unimaginative music with seemingly little interest. This was the final appearance from the organization, and rightly so. It was the most soulless performance we can think of and certainly one of the worst Super Bowl halftime shows of all time.
3. Super Bowl XXXVIII (2004)
The year the Patriots triumphed over the Panthers and Brady grabbed the plaudits – certainly one to remember – but we will always remember this Bowl for more than football.
The year Janet Jackson let it slip! Let’s be frank, the show was great. But people don’t forget. Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake dominated the show and were followed by Kid Rock, who was very much below par, but fans could look beyond that. What nobody will ever be able to look beyond is the severe wardrobe malfunction that the world witnessed!
4. Super Bowl XXVI (1992)
Minnesota really wanted to encompass the environment they have to endure within their Super Bowl halftime show. While it was quite the spectacle, it really didn’t fly with the viewers.
The hosts were terrible, the parade was worse, and the song Winter Magic really was the hand grenade on the top of the cake. The whole thing wasn’t thought through, the concept was fine but the execution was a 1 out of 10.
5. Super Bowl XXXI (1997)
When you see James Brown and ZZ Top on the lineup, you know you’re tuning in for the show. The problem back in 1997 was that Jim Belushi was up there kicking things off.
Belushi’s rendition of the Blues Brothers was genuinely hard to sit through. We don’t know who okayed this one, but they need to reconsider their choice of work. This disastrous start really set the tone for the rest of the show – a wasted opportunity.
6. Super Bowl XXV (1991)
As we’ve seen in the past, Disney has a knack for ruining major events. It was the New Kids on the Block that seemed to take the brunt of the criticism. Although they really weren’t the culprits – this one is all on Disney.
The song choice killed it. “It’s a Small World” is not the one for the Super Bowl. What’s worse, is Disney aired it on their company channel, making it even harder to watch – or was it better rather than worse?
7. Super Bowl XLVI (2012)
There was a lot of criticism of Madonna, headlining the 2012 Super Bowl. But, she turned up, performed and put on the best show of the night, which is exceptionally impressive when you consider the other acts were half her age.
It was the younger performers in the form of LMFAO and MIA that dropped the bomb. The largest TV audience of all time and this is what we get. LMFAO are clowns and deliver exactly what the acronym represents. Never again, yours sincerely, everyone.
8. Super Bowl XXIX (1995)
Once again it’s the entertainment giants Disney who plagued the Super Bowl. The event was so bad that getting hold of the footage is almost impossible, with the vast majority of the footage benign wiped from the internet.
The whole thing was a publicity stunt, as Disney did everything to try and promote their new Indiana Jones ride. The concept was Indiana Jones trying to retrieve the Vince Lombardi trophy, but the whole thing was tacky and really poorly executed.
9. Super Bowl XLV (2011)
The Black Eyed Peas released one good track. How they’ve managed to kick around for as long as they have is staggering. Their music is weak and they offer very little in terms of entertainment value; see LMFAO.
The get-up they were wearing was another layer in what was a truly horrific spectacle. Then, just when the audience thought it couldn’t get any worse, they pull Slash onto the stage and Fergie absolutely slaughters “Sweet Child O Mine.” Never forget.
10. Super Bowl XXIII (1989)
We’ve listed some of the worst Super Bowl halftime shows, but nothing was more bizarre than the Super Bowl XXIII. The show is so difficult to watch over 30 years after it was recorded. Just why?
The show was led by an impersonator named Elvis Presto, who would carry out a card trick, backed by 3D effects brought to the screen by Diet Coke. The show isn’t particularly awkward, but the concept and the execution are simply dreadful. A real mystery as to how this ever aired.