The Super Bowl is the most watched event in American television, so naturally the most coveted concert of the year is playing at halftime — when people are going to the bathroom, refilling their buffet lines with food or just not paying attention because it’s not football. But just because the halftime show gets brushed off and instantly recognized for what it is, we’ve still had some pretty interesting moments of pop culture h
istory take place at this usually unbearable lapse between halves of football.
From Janet Jackson’s boob, to Prince creating the most Prince-esque shadow puppet ever to actual moments that weren’t unbearable, the Super Bowl halftime show is and forever will be one of the most significant pop culture events of any given year.
10. Some Guy Catches Fire While Indiana Jones Steals the Lombardi Trophy
From Super Bowl XXIX: 49ers 49, Chargers 26
Yeah, this really happened. The last time the 49ers were in the Super Bowl, the Halftime Show was a corporate advertising affair by ABC and Disney to promote Disney’s new Indiana Jones Adventure attraction at Disneyland. Basically, some knock-off Indiana Jones came out and fought with some Temple of Doom henchman while a knock-off Marion Ravenwood lit him on fire. It all ended with Indy running off with the prized artifact from the game — the Lombardi Trophy.
There eventually was music during the halftime show, with Tony Bennett, Patti LaBelle, jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval, and the Miami Sound Machine getting trotted out to try and shift the show away from the weird skit that had just occurred.
The show ended with a rendition of ‘Can You Feel The Love’ from the Lion King, because nothing gets the gridiron blood flowing like a children’s song by Elton John.
And we though Madonna was over the top.
9. Ben Stiller, Chris Rock and Adam Sandler Try to Make Aerosmith and N*SYNC Tolerable
From Super Bowl XXXV: Ravens 34, Giants 7
The last time the Ravens were in the Super Bowl, we were treated to something comedian Lewis Black refers to as the ‘trifecta from Hell’ where N*SYNC joined Areosmith and just about every other recording artist on the planet at that time in a halftime show. But while the show itself does make our list, the introduction to the show was a little weird. Ben Stiller plays halftime coordinator Timothy Shwackahmmer and attempts to fit his fist into Steven Tyler’s mouth and tells N*SYNC that they N*Suck.
What’s the best way to follow this up? Obviously with Adam Sandler, who proceeds to coach N*SYNC in how to properly dance for an audience and how they’ve ‘forgotten the streets’.
To top it all off Chris Rock shows up out of nowhere to complain about the lack of black artist in the show and awkwardly backs out of the room singing. To be honest, the intro really wasn’t that bad in comparison to the show we got immediately following it. But the real tragedy is that this is probably the last time either Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler and to a lesser extent Chris Rock were remotely funny on a national stage.
8. Fergie Vomits All Over ‘Sweet Child O Mine’ and Slash Holds Her Hair
From Super Bowl XLV: Packers 21, Steelers 25
Slash is without a doubt one of the only mainstream rock guitarist of the 1980s to actually have been any good. The classics he helped create as part of Guns ‘N Roses are still to this day being played in bedrooms all over the world by guys trying to impress their girlfriends. But when Slash made an appearance at the halftime show of Super Bowl XLV, he ruined his mystic and his legend he’d built up over the past 30 years in about a minute and a half.
Fergie, the midget woman from The Back Eyed Peas, helped “sing” a rendition of Sweet Child ‘O Mine but what she heard and what we heard were two entirely different things.
Fergie didn’t actually vomit anywhere but the nastiness that came out of her mouth in the form of what were once lyrics was vomit-enducing. Scores of overweight, hippy-haired high schoolers and 40-year old men cried as they slowly took off their ‘Appetite for Destruction’ t-shirts and burned them. The worst part was that Slash participated.
When Axel Rose suddenly becomes a sympathetic character, you know you’ve done something horrible.
7. The New Kids On The Block Literally Bring Out New Kids
From Super Bowl XXV: Giants 20, Bills 19
If anyone was having nightmares about what it would (and eventually will) be like to have Justin Beiber perform at the halftime show — it’s already happened. Boston-based boy band New Kids on the Block performed at yet another Disney sponsored halftime show back in 1991. When you have the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills battling it out in a hard fought and highly physical Super Bowl, nothing helps amplify that mood like bringing out a bunch of white guys to sing like their still 14.
Better yet, the ‘Kids’ literally brought out small children at one point in the halftime show. The kids ran out to the boy and weirdly got grabbed, hugged and placed on the knees of the band like this was Christmas at the mall.
Interestingly enough, we weren’t subjected to this atrocity live, as ABC news anchor Peter Jennings served as the halftime report. Rather than televise the halftime show, ABC cut to it’s studio so Jennings could give live updates on the Gulf War with the idea that the halftime show would be aired immediately following the game. Instead most ABC affiliates showed the first episode of Davis Rules.
6. The Who Rock Super Bowl XLIV
From Super Bowl XLIV: Saints 31, Colts 17
In the post-Janet Jackson boob era we live in, halftime shows have been a lot less extravagant than they used to be. But when The Who performed at the halftime show of Super Bowl XLIV in Miami, the ball started to get rolling again. Sure, it continued a trend of old rockers breaking out their guitars again, much like the previous shows had been, but anytime you can get The Who to play anywhere, chances are it’s going to be pretty awesome.
For the first time since Super Bowl XXXIV, there were no annoying fans jumping up and down in front of the stage while the halftime show was going on. Not only that, but we got to hear classics that not many people had gotten a chance to hear live before — think about all those Who fans you know that are too young to have gone to live shows when The Who were still popular.
Oh, and there was that weird Keith Moon look alike playing drums. Plus, anytime you can get The Who to play ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ in Miami, that’s just so golden.