I saw a meme recently that said “Wouldn’t it be funny if half way through a music concert there was a break for a mini football game?” So true. The hype around the Super Bowl half-time show is real. In fact, between this and the apparent $5 million price tag on 30-second ads during the game, the actual football is only part of the reason the first Sunday in February has now become a worldwide-watched event.
I’m sure die-hard NFL fans recall each grand final according to the best touchdowns, however many of us across the pond instead don’t follow the season and instead remember them for their musical showdowns. This year’s slot has been shrouded in controversy given various celebs refusing this year’s post (Cardi B, Rihanna for example) in support of ex-player and #TakeAKnee activist Colin Kaepernick.
Whether this year’s political atmosphere will make Maroon 5’s memorable in itself remains to be seen when they take the stage soon. In the meantime, here are the 7 times the half-time show has made us furrow our brows, cover our eyes and quietly say “make it stop”. Never forget…
1. That time Chris Martin made everyone cringe to the point of illness
Once upon a time in 2016, Beyonce and Bruno Mars performed the Super Bowl in addition to Coldplay. That’s correct, in ADDITION. Coldplay was billed first and Beyonce and Bruno joined them. This was only three years ago. To this day no one is sure why this occurred, however, after killer performances from Bey and Mr. Uptown Funk, the show culminated in the three of them on stage together singing a Coldplay number. Martin’s performance looked more like a third wheel, or a rogue roadie that jumped on stage, or a competition winner. All ‘awkward’ synonyms apply.
2. That time Janet jackson flashed a nip and invented the infamous “wardrobe malfunction”
Will we ever know if Janet Jackson’s nip-slip was, in fact, a malfunction? In 2004 she took to the Super Bowl stage and bashed out hits like Rhythm Nation which, damn it, still makes for compelling viewing now. Justin Timberlake joined her half-way through to belt out Rock Your Body and then they danced around together a la Sandy and Danny Zuko. They then take a bold finish before Timberlake perplexingly (and confidently) rips one of Jackson’s bra cups off, revealing a naked breast. Over 540,000 complaints followed. As did apologies from Timberlake, interviews with Oprah from Jackson, worldwide news coverage and much talk of a falling out between the performers. Supposedly it was meant to be that Timberlake tore the rubber bustier off to reveal a red lace bra… Watch and decide for yourself.
3. that time Katy Perry did a bizarre performance with a couple of blue sharks
Could this have been the real inspiration behind last year’s annoying YouTube sensation Baby Shark? If so, it makes me loathe this performance even more. In 2015 the pop singer brought out superstar guests like Lenny Kravitz and Missy Elliott but all anyone could talk about was Perry’s “left shark back up dancer”. According to organisers its weirdness was unintentional but those sharks stole more attention that her Teenage Dream rendition. It sparked a trillion memes and became an instant Halloween costume.
4. that time fergie sang Sweet Child O Mine and Gunners fans… weren’t… thrilled…
Another one for the What Were They Thinking file, in 2011, Fergie and the Black Eyed Peas brought out special guest Slash. Taking a break from their dance floor hits, Fergie belted out Sweet Child O Mine, giving it her best sort-of Axl Rose sound and the whole thing ended up like bad karaoke. It concludes with her giving Slash a bit of a shoulder shimmy before Gunners fans, universally revolted for blasphemy against their sacred anthem. A few years later Fergie took to the NBA stage to perform the actual American national anthem, and we’ve kind of never heard from her since…
5. That time M.I.A. pulled focus from Madonna and Nicky Minaj by flipping America the bird
To be honest I think the most offensive thing about this performance is Madonna’s awkward dancing. However, America went into meltdown when the millions of 2013 Super Bowl viewers were delivered a middle-finger courtesy of rapper M.I.A. It kind of looks like no big deal and something she probably does in all her performances, however, with a major part of conservative America watching and a focus of family-friendly entertainment, it did not go down well.
6. that time the red hot chilli peppers didn’t even bother plugging in their instruments
Okay, so MOST performers at an event like the Super Bowl don’t play live. Between feedback and time delays, singing or playing live would be a disaster waiting to happen. However, it’s nice to be treated to the illusion that this is not glorified lip sync. In 2014 Bruno Mars did a stellar performance, as he always does, and brought out The Red Hot Chilli Peppers as special guests. Anthony Kiedis thrilled everyone by joining Mars in a Give It Away rendition shirtless and stomping around the stage. Meanwhile, his electric-guitar playing bandmates gave new meaning to word Unplugged. Whatever, it was awesome.
7. that time Aerosmith, Britney and N’Sync performed together
In today’s nostalgia-obsessed world, this 2001 performance is actually now ironically all-time. However, with the mess, the actual show appeared to be we’re betting it was a catalyst for JT going solo and aiming for a future of cooler appearances. For Britney though, this was peak. Circa Slave For You, the pop-star joins all the others on stage (as well as Mary J Blige, inexplicably. Why not?) for an awkward rendition of Aerosmith’s Walk This Way complete with some gentle line-dancing. You just need to watch it for yourself.