Prince, Gaga and more: 7 of the most memorable moments from Super Bowl half-time shows

From surprise collaborations to powerful statements, take a look back at half-time shows gone by

Shakira and Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, Coldplay and Beyonce are just some of the superstars to play the Super Bowl halftime show. 
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The Super Bowl half-time show has become a rite of passage for pop's finest, officially cementing their megastar status.

With the eyes of the world watching, many of the show’s stars have put on career-defining performances, which have, over the years, delivered their fair share of viral moments.

And this year is set to be no different. The 2022 Super Bowl 56 half-time show will put hip-hop firmly in the spotlight, as some of the genre's biggest names, including Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar take to the stage.

From surprise collaborations to powerful statements, here are some of the most memorable moments from halftime shows gone by.

1. Prince’s 'Purple Rain'

Prince's performance at the 2007 Super Bowl half-time show is widely regarded as one of the best in the event's history, and it also offered a moment of poetry, as the Miami skies opened in time for his set. Ever the professional, Prince soldiered on, getting drenched in the process. But performing Purple Rain in the pouring rain? Priceless.

2. Lady Gaga’s stadium dive

During her 2017 Super Bowl half-time show, Lady Gaga drew a collective gasp as she seemingly dived from the roof of Houston's NRG Stadium. The stunt turned out to be a clever camera edit, but it was impressive all the same, as it led seamlessly into a typically theatrical mega mix of Gaga's impressive back catalogue, culminating in her jumping from a platform to catch a sequinned ball, of course.

3. Beyonce’s Black Panthers

It might not have been her year, but Beyonce always steals the show. As a guest star during Coldplay's 2016 half-time slot, the Crazy in Love singer appeared on the pitch, backed by a troupe of dancers paying clear tribute to the Black Panthers political organisation, for a marching-band take on her hit Formation. Slay all day, indeed.

4. Katy Perry and the left shark

Katy Perry's 2015 half-time show performance took place during her candyfloss and rainbows phase, so, seeing two sharks and a couple of beach balls as her back-up dancers came as no surprise to anyone. What did capture people's attention, however, was the difference between said sharks during Teenage Dream. While one shark seemed to dance along with Perry in perfect synchronicity, the other appeared to be dancing to a beat of its own, causing #leftshark to trend around the world, and an onslaught of memes to follow.

5. Bruno Mars’s drum solo

Not content with being a great singer, songwriter and dancer, Bruno Mars used his 2014 half-time performance to show the world what an incredible drummer he is. Opening the show with a minute-long drum solo, he went on to be joined by the Red Hot Chili Peppers for a frankly underrated slot in the Super Bowl history books.

6. Jennifer Lopez’s daughter shines

The 2020 Super Bowl halftime show was the turn of Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, who together put on a powerhouse performance that paid tribute to many different cultures, including Shakira's Arab roots. However, it was Lopez's daughter Emme, 12, who stole the show, as she joined her mum on stage to show off her singing prowess for a sweet rendition of Let's Get Loud.

7. Beyonce’s surprise Destiny’s Child reunion

Beyonce drove fans wild during her 2013 half-time show when she brought out former Destiny's Child bandmates Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams for the ultimate hits megamix. Complete with killer choreography and matching outfits, it proved exactly why they will always be known as one of the greatest girl bands of all time.

A version of this story first appeared on The National in February 2021