What was Super Bowl's best halftime show?
Memorable performances from Janet Jackson to Tom Petty
By Steven Bryan, Contributing writer
The Super Bowl is one of those rare sporting events that attracts millions of television viewers who normally don't care about football.
In addition to a head-to-head confrontation between the top two NFL teams, the game features great commercials plus a memorable musical halftime show.
Class Acts, Fines and Wardrobe Malfunctions In February 2008, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers delivered what can only be called a stunning performance that included such classics as "Free Fallin'" and "I Won't Back Down." This musical interlude arguably generated more buzz at the watercooler the next day than the game itself.
Petty's class act was in stark contrast to the months of controversy that haunted Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson after their halftime performance at Super Bowl XXXVIII on Feb. 1, 2004. At the end of the song "Rock Your Body," Timberlake removed part of Jackson's outfit, exposing her right breast.
CNN reported that FCC Commissioner Michael Powell ordered an investigation of the incident on the day following the game. Powell, who was watching the game with his children, was quoted by CNN as saying, "We have a very angry public on our hands."
Four years after the term "wardrobe malfunction" became part of American culture thanks to this halftime show, The New York Times reported that a federal appeals court overturned the $550,000 fine the FCC ordered CBS to pay for Jackson's exposure.
"Be Bop Bamboozled in 3-D" (Super Bowl XXIII -- Jan. 22, 1989) Long before the opening kickoff of Super Bowl XXIII on Jan. 22, 1989, fans were preparing for the halftime show, an event called "Be Bop Bamboozled in 3-D." Promising a magician called Elvis Presto and computer-generated special effects, viewers picked up complimentary glasses from Coca-Cola to enjoy the 3-D visuals. While it turned out to be an interesting diversion during the battle between the Cincinnati Bengals and San Francisco 49ers, Elvis Presto and his magical effects didn't quite live up to all the pre-game hype.
Michael Jackson (Super Bowl XXVII -- Jan. 31, 1993) The halftime show, unlike in many previous years, featured only one star performer in Jackson. The show, held at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., opened with doubles of Jackson entering the stadium in each corner. The finale featured an audience card stunt and a choir of 3,500 local Los Angeles area children joining Jackson as he sang his single "Heal The World."
The selection of Jackson for the halftime show was in response to sagging interest in recent performances, notably in the two years immediately prior. NFL and network officials decided it was necessary to sign top acts for the halftime in future years to boost future viewership and interest.
Prince and the Florida A&M Marching 100 (Super Bowl XLI -- Feb. 4, 2007) As the official NFL.com Web site reported, there really was "Purple Rain" at Super Bowl XLI as Prince gave a spirited performance with the Florida A&M "Marching 100" during a rainstorm. Associated Press Entertainment Writer Douglas J. Rowe wrote that Prince "delivered one of the best Super Bowl halftime shows -- ever."
Prince's performance did generate a bit of controversy, however. The moment in question came when the singer appeared behind a beige sheet holding a guitar shaped like his trademark symbol. According to the Associated Press, the silhouette had some phallic connotations to it, but it didn't generate nearly the buzz that Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction" did a few years earlier.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (Super Bowl XLIII -- Feb. 1, 2009) The dynamic performance began with a silhouette version of that famous image from the "Born To Run" album cover -- Springsteen and sax player Clarence Clemons standing with their backs to each other, ready to join forces to win converts in this and any crowd. As the lights went up, a piano melody began and he left Clemons. Springsteen took off his unused guitar and tossed to a butterfingered roadie and grabbed the mic like he was about to order the frenzied onlookers at his feet to get back to work as break time is over.
Staring at the camera, Springsteen transformed into a rock 'n' roll revival preacher, dressed in Johnny Cash black. As the band revved up to the groove of "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," he commanded the millions watching this weathered rocker at home to "step back from the guacamole dip, put the chicken fingers down and turn your television all the way up!"
Springsteen and company also tackled shortened versions of "Born to Run," "Working on a Dream" and "Glory Days" during their truly memorable set.
Copyright Internet Broadcasting. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.