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  • Writer's pictureAva Nociforo

A Super Bowl Halftime Show Rewind

The Super Bowl has something for everyone: great athletes, funny commercials, and, for us music lovers, incredible halftime performances. Since the first Super Bowl in 1967, many acts – both notable and mediocre – have taken the stage.


On Feb. 11, Usher will join a long lineage of Super Bowl performers. Only time will tell whether Usher’s performance is one for the books. Until then, let’s rewind history and look at three legendary Super Bowl halftime performances. 


Michael Jackson (1993)


Starting us off, we have none other than Michael Jackson’s 1993 performance. Many Penn Stater students were not alive to witness this halftime show, but that should not detract from its excellence.


From the beginning, Jackson captivated his audience. Before he could even start his set, the audience welcomed Jackson with roaring applause that persisted for two minutes. 


In true Jackson fashion, the performance was filled with moonwalking, pyrotechnics, hair flipping, hat-ography, costume changes, and gyrating hips. To top it off, Jackson ended his set with an inflatable globe and a chorus of kids from around the world. Without a doubt, Jackson’s performance set the standard for Super Bowl halftimes today.


Shakira and Jennifer Lopez (2020)


We can’t talk about legendary halftime shows without discussing Jennifer Lopez and Shakira’s sensational performance. Lopez and Shakira made history as the first Latina duo to headline a Super Bowl.


Compared to the typical pop performers at the Super Bowl, Lopez and Shakira’s halftime was a breath of fresh air. The 14-minute performance was a marathon of Columbian dancing, Spanish rap, pyrotechnics, colorful lights, and yes, hips that don’t lie. For a Miami Super Bowl, this pairing could not have been more perfect. 


The pair closed out their performance with a duet of Lopez’s “Let’s Get Loud” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the USA.” Four years later, this Super Bowl is still regarded as one of the best, and rightfully so. This halftime exuded energy and raised the bar high for its successors to match.


Rihanna (2023)


In the weeks leading up to Super Bowl LVII, all eyes were on Rihanna last year to serve up a memorable performance. Many were skeptical if the billionaire would be able to live up to expectations. After all, she hadn’t performed live for over seven years. After her performance, many agree that she exceeded expectations.


If the high platforms weren’t enough to make our jaws drop, Rihanna began her set with a pregnancy announcement, making her the first preganant artist to headline a Super Bowl.


Compared to many of her predecessors, Rihanna’s halftime was simple with no wardrobe changes or surprise guests. Instead, she relied on simple lights, high rise platforms, and a fleet of Squid Games-inspired dancers.


In my opinion, her performance benefitted from this simplicity. The quirky and innovative choreography by Parris Geobel, who also choreographed Jennifer Lopez’s halftime performance), took TikTok and Instagram by storm with thousands of users recreating it.


To this day, sound bits from Rihanna’s performance still circulate on social media as many continue to emulate the artist. 


In my opinion, Rihanna’s Super Bowl performance was sheer excellence. From her song selection to her choreography, there were a lot of elements that made her halftime unique and memorable.


Usher (2024)


Only time will tell if Usher’s performance will be legenderay or mediocre. WIth hits like “DJ’s Got Us Falling In Love Again” and “Yeah!,” he has the ingredients to cook up a legendary routine.


However, as history has shown, it takes more than a few catchy songs to rock a stage like the Super Bowl, and fans will be eager to see if Usher’s halftime will have us screaming “OMG.”

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