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Iconic halftime show performances that are still talked about today

When it comes to the Super Bowl halftime show, there are some big performances from the past to live up to.

LOS ANGELES — Sometimes the Super Bowl halftime show is wilder than the actual game. From wardrobe malfunctions and uncoordinated dancers dressed as sharks to superstars jumping from the roof and surprise celebrity appearances, a lot can go down in the short break between halves. In one notable show, even mother nature added apropos ambiance for the performer.

This year, some of the biggest names in hip-hop will perform on the biggest stage in the world. The lineup includes Dr. Dre, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, and Kendrick Lamar. Plus, deaf stars Warren “Wawa” Snipe and Sean Forbes will perform American Sign Language during the show

Last year, The Weeknd headlined the halftime show in Tampa Bay to the smallest in-person crowd in the game's history -- just 22,000 fans due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Here’s a look back at some of the most memorable halftime shows in Super Bowl history.

Michael Jackson 1993 show changes halftime forever

We have to thank the King of Pop for making halftime shows the over-the-top productions that we expect today. During his 1993 performance at the Super Bowl in Pasadena, California, Michael Jackson immediately grabbed the audience’s attention by standing completely still in silence on stage for nearly two minutes. He then performed a mashup of his hits, including “Billie Jean,” and ended the show with “Heal the World” alongside hundreds of children who rushed on stage.

Prince sings “Purple Rain” in a rain storm

As rain poured down on Miami’s stadium in 2007, Prince commanded the stage, dancing around on the slick surface and playing four different electric guitars. Before the show, he reportedly asked the production crew if they could “make it rain harder.” Prince not only performed his beloved hits – including “Purple Rain” – but also played covers of Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” “Proud Mary” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, a medley of “All Along the Watchtower” by Bob Dylan and Foo Fighters’ “Best of You.”

Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction”

It has become the most infamous halftime show of all time.

We all know the story: 2004. Houston, Texas. Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson. An exposed breast. 144 million television viewers. A whole lot of controversy. Fourteen years later, Timberlake returned to headline the Super Bowl LII halftime show, but without Jackson.

Fifteen years later, fans wanted to know why Maroon 5's Adam Levine was allowed to run around with his shirt off during the band's Super Bowl LIII halftime performance.

Left shark steals Katy Perry’s show

As Katy Perry performed her hit song “Teenage Dream” on the Super Bowl stage in 2015, she was joined by two dancing sharks.

The shark on the right clearly knew all the dance moves. The shark on the left… not so much. “Left shark,” as he was called in viral, online memes, flailed his flippers and seemed to forget that he was dancing next to a pop star and being watched by millions of people worldwide. Turns out, the seemingly random moves were all planned. One of Perry’s dancers, Bryan Gaw, finally fessed up to being left shark.

He told NPR in 2018 that he was playing a character – “I'm in a 7-foot blue shark costume. There's no cool in that.” So he decided to be a little goofy, and his movements turned out looking extra-goofy on the huge stage.

Beyoncé and Bruno Mars crash Coldplay’s performance

For Super Bowl 50, there had to be an epic halftime.

It was supposed to be Coldplay’s show. But then Beyoncé and Bruno Mars showed up. Bruno Mars kicked off his performance during the 2016 Super Bowl in Santa Clara, California, with his hit “Uptown Funk.” Then Beyoncé entered the stadium with an entourage of backup dancers dressed in black and gold, singing “Formation.” Beyoncé and her crew had a dance-off with Bruno Mars, and if you watch the video, it’s clear Queen Bey won. 

Credit: AP
Beyoncé, Coldplay singer Chris Martin and Bruno Mars perform during halftime of the NFL Super Bowl 50 football game Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016, in Santa Clara, Calif. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Lady Gaga jumps from the roof

After singing a medley of “God Bless America” and “This Land is Your Land” with hundreds of drones creating an American flag behind her, Lady Gaga appeared to jump from the roof of NRG Stadium in Houston at Super Bowl LI. She then floated into the stadium and started singing “Poker Face.” The whole performance was impressive, but she didn’t actually jump from the roof. The beginning segment with the drones was prerecorded and, during the live set, she was lowered down from the roof by harnesses.

JLo, Shakira bring the heat

Jennifer Lopez and Shakira brought serious girl power to the Super Bowl halftime show. The ladies came with the heat performing some of their biggest hit songs. 

Shakira kicked off the festivities in a red sequined outfit, singing a medley of her best songs, including "She Wolf," "Whenever, Wherever" and "Hips Don't Lie." She was joined by Bad Bunny for a cover of Cardi B's "I Like It."

Lopez followed with a rendition of her classic "Jenny From The Block" before launching into a mix that included "Ain't It Funny," "Waiting for Tonight" and "On the Floor." J Balvin joined the 50-year-old for a rendition of "Mi Gente." The singer had two stunning outfits, one black leather and one silver beaded. Lopez also showed off the pole dance moves she learned for her role in the movie "Hustlers."

Lopez's daughter, Emme, made a surprise appearance, belting a rendition of "Let's Get Loud" with her mother.  

The show was a little too caliente for some. The FCC received more than 1,300 complaints, mostly saying the show was too sexy.

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