warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

Super Bowl Halftime Show: How Will Madonna Compare?

Anna Zhang |
February 4, 2012 | 10:04 p.m. PST

Staff Reporter

Will Madonna rock the halftime show? (wikimedia)
Will Madonna rock the halftime show? (wikimedia)
Madonna hopes to join the ranks of top Super Bowl halftime show performances when she takes the coveted stage on Sunday, a highly-anticipated event that triggers reminiscence of past sets - the good, the questionable, and the epic. 

While over a hundred million Americans tune in to watch the Patriots vs. Giants and some mighty pricey commercials, the 53-year-old pop star will be prepping to follow in the path of artists who have made past Super Bowls impossible to forget. The halftime show of Super Bowl XLVI is sure to impress and be widely buzzed about, but what will make Madonna’s moment truly memorable? 

Let’s examine some of the most notable performances on the halftime show timeline:

Michael Jackson, Super Bowl XXVII (1993)

When the King of Pop shows up to the Super Bowl, you expect greatness. MJ topped it. His set featured some 3,000 dancers, the famed moonwalk, and a medley of his original music, including the hit “We Are The World.” Plus, he received a 90-second ovation before he could utter a note - a powerful performance before it even began.

Diana Ross, Super Bowl XXX (1996)

Other than the fact that Diana Ross herself graced the Super Bowl with her presence in general, she blew the audience away with her finale. A helicopter airlifted her out of the stadium to “Take Me Higher” while blowing kisses to the audience. Unforgettable? Without question.

Britney Spears, Aerosmith, *NSYNC, Mary J. Blige, and Nelly, Super Bowl XXXV (2001)

Whoever topped the pop charts of the time could likely be found on stage during this halftime show. Additionally, the act began with a lead-in by none other than the hilarious Chris Rock, Adam Sandler, and Ben Stiller. A comedy trifecta followed by a presentation featuring 2001’s pop royalty of the year made the show action-packed and the farthest thing from boring.

U2, Super Bowl XXXVI (2002)

This wasn’t your average halftime entertainment. U2 took the stage for the first Super Bowl following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The band performed “Where the Streets Have No Name” while the names of victims were projected on a massive screen that eventually reached the top of the stadium. It was definitely one of the most noteworthy halftime shows in Super Bowl history, ending with Bono flashing the inside of his American flag-lined leather jacket. 

Janet Jackson & Justin Timberlake, Super Bowl XXXVIII (2004)

 It’s the one everyone has heard about; the one that probably received more buzz than any other halftime performance. Unfortunately, two extremely famous, talented performers were upstaged that night by an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction at the end of JT’s “Rock Your Body.” Sorry, Janet.

Paul McCartney, Super Bowl XXIX (2005)

Super Bowl entertainment directors were smart to turn to Sir McCartney following the scandal of Janet Jackson’s on-stage mishap in ’04. You don’t need much more other than the Paul McCartney performing to make you at least mildly interested, but he fulfilled his role as a great entertainer as well, singing the Beatles’ “Drive My Car” and “Get Back.” He finished his set with “Live And Let Die.”

Prince, Super Bowl XLI (2007)

Prince’s set list was full of hits and surprises, including an unexpected cover of the Foo Fighters’ “Best Of You.” The highlight of this show, however, was his performance of “Purple Rain” as rain actually began to downpour over the stadium. Movie moment complete.

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Super Bowl XLII (2009)

It has been said that the Super Bowl XLII was a game played around the main feature: Springsteen’s 12-minute set. He performed classics like “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out”, “Glory Days”, and of course, “Born to Run”. A fairly uneventful performance given the still-talked-about Janet Jackson scandal five years previous and Prince’s dramatic set in ’07, but a major crowd-pleaser nonetheless.



As for Madonna's Super Bowl set, her lips are sealed. When MTV asked if audience members can expect MIA or Nicki Minaj to join her on stage, she replied, “I’m not saying yes, and I’m not saying no.” Our only clue as to what her performance is going to involve: “Pom-poms.” 

The Material Girl has got a lot to look forward to, including the upcoming release of her 12th studio album, "MDNA," and a world tour this summer. In terms of racking up publicity points for an already action-packed year, spending twelve minutes rocking it on national television during the Super Bowl XLVI isn’t a bad way to start. 

Reach writer Anna Zhang here and follow her on Twitter here.



Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.