The Worst Super Bowl Halftime Shows Ever Performed

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Source: Getty Images

Chris Barilla - Author

For many viewers, the annual Super Bowl Halftime Show is about as much of a spectacle as the big game itself. Each year, a high-profile star is selected to take the stage at the most-watched television event in the U.S. to perform. Ever since the tradition of having a halftime performance at the Super Bowl began in 1967, plenty of famous faces have graced its stage and delivered memorable performances for the ages. Conversely, a few of the Halftime Shows have just been outright misses.

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With that being said, which of the Super Bowl Halftime Shows are commonly considered to be the worst of all time? Let’s take a look back at some performances worth mentioning.

Super Bowl I Halftime Show

Source: Jimberg13 / Wikimedia Commons

‘Winter Magic’ – Super Bowl XXVI, 1992

The 1990s were an interesting time, one where the NFL were able to get away with forgoing the usual musician performer at the Super Bowl. Instead, the organization opted to give the stage to dozens of dancers and singers who performed a live show titled Winter Magic. It makes this list because, well, Broadway production and professional football don’t exactly mesh. The performance received lackluster reviews from viewers after the fact.

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‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye’ – Super Bowl XXIX, 1995

It seemed as though the NFL didn’t learn from Winter Magic when they premiered their 1995 Halftime Show, Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye. Why is this Halftime Show so bad? Well, it was less of a show and more of a commercial advertising Disney’s then-new attraction at Disneyland, Indiana Jones Adventure. The show featured actors attempting to steal the Vince Lombardi Trophy from the Temple of the Forbidden Eye and was highlighted by music from Tony Bennett and Patti LaBelle.

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The Blues Brothers, ZZ Top, and James Brown – Super Bowl XXXI, 1997

It goes without saying at this point that the 1990s didn’t exactly produce the best Super Bowl Halftime Shows. The next one to make this list came in 1997 when The Blues Brothers performed at Super Bowl XXXI alongside ZZ Top and James Brown. While the latter two acts are legendary in their own rights, the performance itself didn’t make much sense and more so served as a spectacle for fans who watched as the comedians danced awkwardly on stage to R&B music.

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Aerosmith, Britney Spears, N’Sync, Nelly, and Mary J. Blige – Super Bowl XXXV, 2001

When the lineup for the 2001 Super Bowl Halftime Show was announced, fans were eager to see how Aerosmith, Britney Spears, N’Sync, Nelly, and Mary J. Blige would take the stage together. Unfortunately, the fact that there is almost zero cohesion behind the musicians chosen to perform made it a bit less enticing than one would expect. Naturally, all of the artists are strong on their own, but on stage together, it almost seemed to be a competition for the spotlight where nobody won in the end.

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Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake – Super Bowl XXXVIII, 2004

Perhaps one of the most infamous moments in Super Bowl Halftime Show history came in 2004 when Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake took to the stage together. Like the 2001 Super Bowl Halftime Show, 2004’s performance was a genre-spanning mess that saw Diddy, Nelly, and Kid Rock join her and Justin on stage at various points. To cap it all off, the performance was earmarked by the most viral moment in Super Bowl history: Justin tearing part of Janet’s top to reveal her nipple.


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