The 10 Best Super Bowl Halftime Shows - Rolling Stone
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The 10 Best Super Bowl Halftime Shows

From the Blues Brothers to Indiana Jones, watch the best mid-game spectacles

As much as football, wings or beer, the mega-event that is the Super Bowl has come to be defined by its epic halftime musical performances. This year, Beyoncé will take her turn in the spotlight, but she has some big shoes to fill: from Michael Jackson to the Rolling Stones, some of music’s biggest names have dazzled on football’s biggest day. We count down our 10 favorite Super Bowl halftime gigs.

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5. Paul McCartney – Super Bowl XXXIX (2005)

Sir Paul is an expert crowd-pleaser, and his Super Bowl performance was no exception. Wielding his iconic Höfner bass, the former Beatle unspooled a hit-packed set that included frenzied takes on "Drive My Car," "Get Back," "Live and Let Die" and a massive, set-ending "Hey Jude."  

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4. The Rolling Stones – Super Bowl XL (2006)

Weeks after their Bigger Bang tour set the record for the highest-grossing outing in history, the Stones hit Motor City for a halftime rock riot. Mick Jagger rooster-walked his way through "Start Me Up," then Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood shredded on the new-at-the-time "Rough Justice." Jagger introduced "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" with a flash of deadpan humor: "This one," he said, "we could have done at Super Bowl I."

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3. Prince – Super Bowl XLI (2007)

No one is cooler than Prince. It's a scientific fact. Exhibit A: in 2007, fighting off the Miami rain, he ripped through gnarly renditions of the Purple Rain classics "Let's Go Crazy," "Baby, I'm a Star," and, naturally, a mammoth "Purple Rain." But it was his funked-up cover of Foo Fighters' "Best of You" – totally random, yet completely awesome – that still had people buzzing weeks after this gig.

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2. U2 – Super Bowl XXXVI (2002)

When U2 took the Super Bowl stage in 2002, only a few short months had passed since the tragedy of 9/11. But the band did its best to ease the pain everyone was feeling, at least temporarily. "Beautiful Day" jump-started the emotional performance, but it was "MLK" seguing into "Where the Streets Have No Name," as a list of 9/11 victims scrolled in the background, that guaranteed this performance a place in our collective memory.

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1. Michael Jackson – Super Bowl XXVII (1993)

The King of Pop's halftime performance is prime evidence of why Jackson was one of the best to ever grace the stage. There he was one minute, atop the Rose Bowl's scoreboard; seconds later, he was at mid-field, sliding into "Billy Jean." And let's not forget about his white satin shirt, blowing mightily in the California breeze. This performance was the stuff of legend.

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