The Biggest Super Bowl Performances Of All Time

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  • The Biggest Super Bowl Performances Of All Time
    POSTED Feb 08 2021

    Beyoncé, Bono, Prince and Katy Perry
    Beyoncé, Bono, Prince and Katy Perry. Photo of Beyoncé by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images, photo of Bono by KMazur/WireImage/Getty Images, photo of Prince by Theo Wargo/WireImage/Getty Images and photo of Katy Perry by Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images.

    The Weeknd has just performed at the 2021 Superbowl, and it was HUGE. It was a career-spanning set (finishing with Blinding Lights), and if you're a fan of concert theatrics, then it's definitely worth a watch. Whoever's performing at next year's Super Bowl has a lot to live up to, that's for sure.

    To celebrate his huge performance, we've taken a look at some of the biggest and best Superbowl performances of all time, and what made them so special. The Weeknd might just slot into this list after we've had a bit of time to digest this performance - there was a lot to discuss!

    Prince - 2007

    Prince controls the weather. There's no other way to explain how, during his performance of Purple Rain, the skies were opening up. Prince used his Super Bowl performance to further his legacy, as well as settle disputes. He covered the Foo Fighters' Best Of You after getting into an argument with them about them covering one of his songs without permission. That's the kind of artist Prince was.

    Determined to win over the crowd - which he did - Prince covered songs from Queen and Bruce Springsteen, and it's a show that lives in the memories of everyone who's watched it, both live and later on. If you're looking for more information on the performance, this article by Anil Dash goes into the specifics, but it wouldn't be a Super Bowl performances list without Prince on it.

    U2 - 2002

    U2's performance at the Super Bowl was more of the same from the band, but for a band that's spent over 40 years playing stadiums worldwide, that is in no way a bad thing. It was the first Super Bowl performance since the 9/11 attacks, and U2 used it as an opportunity to pay tribute to those who had passed away.

    Their three-song set paid tribute to MLK, included Where The Streets Have No Name, a track about hope and looking to the future, and kicked off with Bono walking through the crowd. Wearing an American flag in his jacket (Bono has never been one for subtlety), U2 played a show that helped Americans to, in part, move on from the events of September 11, 2001. You can argue whether it was the best Super Bowl performance of all time, but given the context, it's almost undoubtedly the most meaningful.

    2013 - Beyoncé/Destiny's Child

    Beyoncé's 2013 Super Bowl was part a celebration of Bey, part a Destiny's Child reunion. It was such a big performance that it caused a blackout in the stadium, and we can only assume that was a result of Destiny's Child reuniting to perform Bootylicious and Independent Woman: Part 1.

    It's a performance that captures Bey's flair and sense for the big stage, and she's definitely someone that rises to the occasion (see, her performance at Coachella in 2018). In some ways, you can see this 2013 Super Bowl performance as a precursor for that performance, because it was proof that no matter what size stage Bey was on, she'd own it.

    2001 - The Kings Of Rock And Pop (Aerosmith, 'N Sync, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige and Nelly)

    There was so much going on during the 2001 Super Bowl performance, it's hard to know where to begin. Britney Spears performing with 'N Sync, Aerosmith and 'N Sync trying to outdo each other, and Mary J. Blige and Nelly also joining the party.

    While in more recent years, we've gotten more cohesive performances from artists being able to realise their Super Bowl vision, there's no doubt this was one of the most fun performances. Where else would you be able to see Britney performing Walk This Way with Aerosmith? Nowhere. It just wouldn't happen!

    2012 - Madonna

    Madonna brought out all the stops for her 2012 Super Bowl performance. She called in Cirque du Soleil acrobats and dancers (and dressed them as gladiators and cheerleaders), as well as being joined by Nicki Minaj, LMFAO and M.I.A.

    Madonna is pop royalty, and she certainly looked like it during this performance. Performing a few of her many hits, she wore a gold headpiece by Phillip Treacy, which makes her look like she's ready for war. It was a statement from Madonna, and a reminder that she's still one of the best musicians to ever do it.

    2017 - Lady Gaga

    Lady Gaga's 2017 Super Bowl performance involved her shredding on both a keytar and a piano, and it even involved her catching a football (maybe signalling that she was available for the second half, if one of the teams needed her). Playing tracks like Bad Romance, Just Dance and Poker Face, it was a great reminder of just how many bangers Gaga has in her locker.

    Repelling from the ceiling of the NRG Stadium in Houston onto the stage, Gaga's performance remains one of the most entertaining of all time. It's a celebration of what makes pop music so great, and there were lots of fireworks. What's not to love?

    1996 - Diana Ross

    How do you fit in four costume changes into a 12-minute performance? Ask Diana Ross. Lowered onto the stage by a crane of sparklers, and performing tracks like Chain Reaction, Ain't No Mountain High Enough and more, it was a performance that would inspire future Super Bowl performers, because it was truly OTT in the best of ways.

    To finish the show, Diana was whisked away in a chopper - while continuing to sing I Will Survive. What a moment. Diana's performance is also The Weeknd's favourite Super Bowl performance, saying, “The show just makes me smile." We wonder if we'll see him pay tribute to her performance during the show?

    READ MORE: 5 Songs Based On Indian Meals And How To Cook Them

    2015 - Katy Perry

    Remember Left Shark? Katy Perry's 2015 Super Bowl performance truly felt like it was one for the age of social media, and it got a LOT of people talking - mostly because of the shark that cut loose while Katy was performing Teenage Dream. 

    Joined by Lenny Kravitz for I Kissed A Girl, and bringing Missy Elliott on stage to perform her tracks Work It and Lose Control, this performance is a masterclass in pop. It remains arguably THE defining moment in Katy Perry's career - and one of the most talked-about Super Bowl performances ever.

    2016 - Coldplay

    Only a day before the 2016 Super Bowl, Beyoncé released her track Formation. It was a politically charged track about black female pride, and while Coldplay were the headliners of the 2016 Super Bowl, Bey took over when she appeared to perform the track for the first time.

    It wasn't just Bey that was a special guest for their performance, either. Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars appeared to perform Uptown Funk, but the enduring moment from that Super Bowl performance is definitely Bey's performance of Formation. Backed by female dancers dressed like 70s Black Panthers, it was a political statement on a huge stage, and was even more proof that the Super Bowl, at least in part, belongs to Beyoncé.

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Submitted by ben.madden on Mon, 08/02/2021 - 08:17

Beyoncé, Bono, Prince and Katy Perry
Beyoncé, Bono, Prince and Katy Perry. Photo of Beyoncé by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images, photo of Bono by KMazur/WireImage/Getty Images, photo of Prince by Theo Wargo/WireImage/Getty Images and photo of Katy Perry by Kevin Mazur/WireImage/Getty Images.

The Weeknd has just performed at the 2021 Superbowl, and it was HUGE. It was a career-spanning set (finishing with Blinding Lights), and if you're a fan of concert theatrics, then it's definitely worth a watch. Whoever's performing at next year's Super Bowl has a lot to live up to, that's for sure.

To celebrate his huge performance, we've taken a look at some of the biggest and best Superbowl performances of all time, and what made them so special. The Weeknd might just slot into this list after we've had a bit of time to digest this performance - there was a lot to discuss!

Prince - 2007

Prince controls the weather. There's no other way to explain how, during his performance of Purple Rain, the skies were opening up. Prince used his Super Bowl performance to further his legacy, as well as settle disputes. He covered the Foo Fighters' Best Of You after getting into an argument with them about them covering one of his songs without permission. That's the kind of artist Prince was.

Determined to win over the crowd - which he did - Prince covered songs from Queen and Bruce Springsteen, and it's a show that lives in the memories of everyone who's watched it, both live and later on. If you're looking for more information on the performance, this article by Anil Dash goes into the specifics, but it wouldn't be a Super Bowl performances list without Prince on it.

U2 - 2002

U2's performance at the Super Bowl was more of the same from the band, but for a band that's spent over 40 years playing stadiums worldwide, that is in no way a bad thing. It was the first Super Bowl performance since the 9/11 attacks, and U2 used it as an opportunity to pay tribute to those who had passed away.

Their three-song set paid tribute to MLK, included Where The Streets Have No Name, a track about hope and looking to the future, and kicked off with Bono walking through the crowd. Wearing an American flag in his jacket (Bono has never been one for subtlety), U2 played a show that helped Americans to, in part, move on from the events of September 11, 2001. You can argue whether it was the best Super Bowl performance of all time, but given the context, it's almost undoubtedly the most meaningful.

2013 - Beyoncé/Destiny's Child

Beyoncé's 2013 Super Bowl was part a celebration of Bey, part a Destiny's Child reunion. It was such a big performance that it caused a blackout in the stadium, and we can only assume that was a result of Destiny's Child reuniting to perform Bootylicious and Independent Woman: Part 1.

It's a performance that captures Bey's flair and sense for the big stage, and she's definitely someone that rises to the occasion (see, her performance at Coachella in 2018). In some ways, you can see this 2013 Super Bowl performance as a precursor for that performance, because it was proof that no matter what size stage Bey was on, she'd own it.

2001 - The Kings Of Rock And Pop (Aerosmith, 'N Sync, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige and Nelly)

There was so much going on during the 2001 Super Bowl performance, it's hard to know where to begin. Britney Spears performing with 'N Sync, Aerosmith and 'N Sync trying to outdo each other, and Mary J. Blige and Nelly also joining the party.

While in more recent years, we've gotten more cohesive performances from artists being able to realise their Super Bowl vision, there's no doubt this was one of the most fun performances. Where else would you be able to see Britney performing Walk This Way with Aerosmith? Nowhere. It just wouldn't happen!

2012 - Madonna

Madonna brought out all the stops for her 2012 Super Bowl performance. She called in Cirque du Soleil acrobats and dancers (and dressed them as gladiators and cheerleaders), as well as being joined by Nicki Minaj, LMFAO and M.I.A.

Madonna is pop royalty, and she certainly looked like it during this performance. Performing a few of her many hits, she wore a gold headpiece by Phillip Treacy, which makes her look like she's ready for war. It was a statement from Madonna, and a reminder that she's still one of the best musicians to ever do it.

2017 - Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga's 2017 Super Bowl performance involved her shredding on both a keytar and a piano, and it even involved her catching a football (maybe signalling that she was available for the second half, if one of the teams needed her). Playing tracks like Bad Romance, Just Dance and Poker Face, it was a great reminder of just how many bangers Gaga has in her locker.

Repelling from the ceiling of the NRG Stadium in Houston onto the stage, Gaga's performance remains one of the most entertaining of all time. It's a celebration of what makes pop music so great, and there were lots of fireworks. What's not to love?

1996 - Diana Ross

How do you fit in four costume changes into a 12-minute performance? Ask Diana Ross. Lowered onto the stage by a crane of sparklers, and performing tracks like Chain Reaction, Ain't No Mountain High Enough and more, it was a performance that would inspire future Super Bowl performers, because it was truly OTT in the best of ways.

To finish the show, Diana was whisked away in a chopper - while continuing to sing I Will Survive. What a moment. Diana's performance is also The Weeknd's favourite Super Bowl performance, saying, “The show just makes me smile." We wonder if we'll see him pay tribute to her performance during the show?

READ MORE: 5 Songs Based On Indian Meals And How To Cook Them

2015 - Katy Perry

Remember Left Shark? Katy Perry's 2015 Super Bowl performance truly felt like it was one for the age of social media, and it got a LOT of people talking - mostly because of the shark that cut loose while Katy was performing Teenage Dream. 

Joined by Lenny Kravitz for I Kissed A Girl, and bringing Missy Elliott on stage to perform her tracks Work It and Lose Control, this performance is a masterclass in pop. It remains arguably THE defining moment in Katy Perry's career - and one of the most talked-about Super Bowl performances ever.

2016 - Coldplay

Only a day before the 2016 Super Bowl, Beyoncé released her track Formation. It was a politically charged track about black female pride, and while Coldplay were the headliners of the 2016 Super Bowl, Bey took over when she appeared to perform the track for the first time.

It wasn't just Bey that was a special guest for their performance, either. Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars appeared to perform Uptown Funk, but the enduring moment from that Super Bowl performance is definitely Bey's performance of Formation. Backed by female dancers dressed like 70s Black Panthers, it was a political statement on a huge stage, and was even more proof that the Super Bowl, at least in part, belongs to Beyoncé.

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