The Super Bowl is a wonderful day in the sports calendar, full of drama, excitement, and also some great commercials. However, the dark cloud that hangs over most Super Bowls is that of the halftime show. The history of these halftime shows is as diverse as it is bad, with only a few shows shining as examples of not-terrible entertainment (e.g., Prince). The majority, however, have been awful, and here are the top 5 worst (we’re reserving a spot in next year’s list for the Black Eyed Peas, who are set to play Sunday’s halftime show):
5. Tapestry of Nations (2000)
The first halftime show of the new millennium celebrated the Earth and all its magical nations. No, just kidding, it featured Christina Aguilera, Enrique Iglesias and, bafflingly, Phil Collins. Diversity to Disney means Spain, England, and the US, apparently.
4. The Kings of Rock and Pop (2001)
Regardless of your feelings towards the performers, the mixture of boy band, classic rock cheese-balls, and Nelly for some reason was all sorts of awkward, culminating in the dance-off (?) between Steven Tyler and ‘N Sync at 6:19. All of this was capped off with an awful performance of “Walk This Way” that featured Britney Spears and one of the dudes from ‘N Sync trying to rap, proving that no, white people can’t replace Run DMC.
3. Salute to the 1960s and Motown (1982)
Hey, speaking of white people: Up With People was a…well, not really sure but they were somehow invited to play FOUR halftime shows in 10 years. Consisting of a lot of students and little to no musical talent, they proceeded to give this wonderful tribute to Motown music. Did I say wonderful? No, sorry, it’s an awful mess of whiteness, because nothing celebrates African-American music and tradition like 100 white people dancing off-beat.
2. New Kids On The Block (1991)
What can I say about this one? Beginning with a chorus of children singing the insufferable “It’s A Small World After All”, this show continues to tumble downwards with a performance by NKOTB that somehow seems even more lame than ‘N Sync rapping. Silver lining? This show was not shown live, as ABC cut to footage from Operation Desert Storm.
1. Rock the Vote (2004)
The most infamous Super Bowl halftime show is also a chaotic mess of styles, featuring Jessica Simpson, Nelly (again!), Kid Rock (bringing out the A-List, I see), P. Diddy (before he dropped the P), and of course Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake. The real tragedy that occurred on this night was that, due to the Nipplegate controversy, halftime shows have been tame (and subsequently boring) since.
Bonus: Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye 1995
Video of this halftime performance is non-existent, so my description will have to do. Imagine the most obscene advertisement for a theme park ride that you could possibly do, then put that on in front of millions of people watching the Super Bowl. The “show” featured a fake Indy (Harrison Ford could not be bothered to do this, thankfully) attempting to steal the Lombardi Trophy, while Teddy Pendergrass and Tony Bennett kind of but not really performed in the background. Disney’s legal team must have had every copy of this show erased, because no evidence of this affront to humanity could be found.