Super Bowl half-time show's hits and misses, from Rihanna to Michael Jackson

The performance is watched by millions of fans and can make or break careers

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Rihanna is making her musical comeback on one of the biggest stages of all.

An estimated 115 million television viewers will tune in to see the Barbadian RnB singer and fashion mogul perform the Super Bowl half-time show, taking place at State Farm Stadium in the US state of Arizona on Sunday.

While the contents of the show are being kept under wraps, we can confidently look back at past performances to assume nothing will be left to chance in terms of the scale of production.

Rihanna’s performance also follows a long line of concerts stretching back over two decades.

Some superstars managed to triumphantly seize the moment, while others withered under the spotlight of the occasion.

Here is a timeline of the Super Bowl half-time show’s biggest hits and misses.

1991: New Kids on the Block

The seeds of the Super Bowl half-time show as we know it were laid with this minor, yet important performance.

With the official format of the current show launching two years later, New Kids On The Block were one of the first contemporary pop acts to grace the stage at half-time for a short set featuring their global hit Step by Step and This One's for the Children.

1993: Michael Jackson

The official Super Bowl half-time show began with a bang.

At the peak of his powers, Michael Jackson blitzed and moonwalked his way through a bevy of hits such as Billie Jean and Black or White.

Nearly 300 people were required to erect and disassemble the 10-tonne stage, which was wheeled on to the Rose Bowl pitch in all-terrain tyres.

The show was a rating hit and set the high standards only a few artists reached since.

2001: Aerosmith, *NSYNC, Britney Spears, Mary J Blige and Nelly

Dubbed The Kings of Rock and Pop, the show was a misfire due to the incongruous makeup of the acts.

The whole affair was a weird mishmash of styles with *NSYNC’s Bye Bye Bye bizarrely segueing into Aerosmith's I Don't Want to Miss a Thing.

The less we say of Walk This Way, featuring out-of-step contributions by Britney Spears and Nelly, the better.

2004: Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake

A performance that generated headlines for all the wrong reasons.

The cross-generation pairing of Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake promised to be a spectacle, only for a sartorial mishap to derail what was a solid show.

Jackson performed a combination of hits, including All for You and Rhythm Nation, before Timberlake joined her for a duet of his solo chart-topper Rock Your Body.

Ending with that infamous “wardrobe malfunction”, the performance caused such an uproar that Jackson’s career was reportedly blackballed for years after by the music industry.

2007: Prince

For all of his unpredictability, Prince always delivers when it comes to big moments.

Backed by his celebrated band New Power Generation, The Purple One wore a turquoise suit as he tore into a set that included Let's Go Crazy, Baby I'm a Star and 1999.

For such a tightly choreographed affair, Prince also added an improvised call and response from the crowd.

Finishing with Purple Rain, featuring a marching band and fireworks, Prince delivered one of the greatest half-time shows to date.

2012: Madonna

The show was plunged into new controversy and, this time, it wasn’t down to the main act.

As part of her set, Madonna invited rappers Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. as guest performers, only for the latter to steal the headlines with an ill-judged hand gesture to the cameras.

The NFL went on to sue M.I.A. for allegedly breaching her performance contract, only to reach a confidential agreement in 2014.

With all the news reports written about the incident, it is easy to forget that Madonna played a stellar set of tracks including Vogue, Music and Like a Prayer.

2013: Beyonce

Beyonce seized the moment when reuniting with former Destiny's Child bandmates Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams for a medley of hits.

Complete with killer choreography and matching outfits, it was the perfect tribute to the impact of both Beyonce and Destiny’s Child on pop culture.

2014: Bruno Mars

The diminutive singer brought big smiles from the crowds in a fast moving seven-song set featuring Locked Out of Heaven and Treasure.

The Red Hot Chili Peppers also made an appearance and played Give It Away.

2019: Maroon 5

In hindsight, this show was destined to go down as a big loss.

Held amid the controversy surrounding footballer Colin Kaepernick's shunning by NFL teams for his protest against police brutality, a number of artists turned down the offer of playing the half-time show in solidarity with Kaepernick.

Maroon 5 were belatedly chosen and joined by rappers Travis Scott and Big Boi.

While an impressive 99 million viewers tuned into the broadcast, the show was panned for its lack of vigour.

Its most animated moment was the guest appearance of television character SpongeBob Square Pants.

2021: The Weeknd

The Weeknd was cool and enigmatic in a dazzling show that reportedly cost more than $7 million to produce.

With a mammoth backdrop of a neon-lit city skyline and a choir of singers donning what looked like Robocop masks.

Featuring various stages, the singer, in a trademark sequinned red jacket, also sang and danced on the grass among a cast of hundreds of masked doppelgangers.

The production was nothing short of impressive, and was lavish, yet still in line with The Weeknd’s dystopian visual style.

2022: Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, 50 Cent and Kendrick Lamar

Hip-hop was finally acknowledged as the dominant music genre that it is, in this blazing performance.

Headlined by Dr Dre, the set featured a smattering of the hits he produced for others — many of whom repaying the favour by taking the stage to perform them.

These included a roll call of hip-hop superstars such as Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J Blige, 50 Cent and Kendrick Lamar. Before the show, Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg said that the NFL should have embraced rap years ago and that they hoped to open doors for more hip-hop artists.

Judging by the success of this Grammy Award-winning performance, the future looks bright for the genre.

Updated: February 14, 2023, 6:50 AM