Joining the likes of Tom Petty, the Rolling Stones, and Paul McCartney before him, Jersey-bred rock’n’roller and SPIN cover boy Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band will headline Sunday’s Super Bowl halftime show (game starts at 6:28 p.m. EST on NBC).
With this news inciting daydreams of beer, nachos, and Hi-Def TV, we here at SPIN.com indulge a moment of pigskin nostalgia and rehash our favorite performances from the Big Show. Here we offer you the Top 5 Best Halftime Performances — with video!
1. Prince, 2007: With a medley of covers, including “Best of You” by Foo Fighters and “All Along The Watchtower” by Jimi Hendrix, plus wild party-time tracks “Let’s Go Crazy” from his own catalogue, it’s hard for Prince to go wrong. And he really brought the house down with “Purple Rain” as the skies over Florida opened up to a purple-light-drenched stadium. He then clutched his “phallic” guitar and soloed like nobody’s business.
2. U2, 2002: This was the first Super Bowl after 9/11, and the nation was still reeling and rediscovering how to enjoy its simplest pleasures. So U2’s show was accordingly restrained, alternating between their stirring, career-resurrecting single “Beautiful Day” and a somber version of “Where the Streets Have No Name,” performed while the names of 9/11 victims scrolled on a giant video screen at the 50-yard-line. Ironically, U2 would again play the role of sonic ambassador on the very same field some four years later, this time at the first game played in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
3. Janet Jackson/Justin Timberlake, 2005: How could we forget nipple-gate?
4. Aerosmith, ‘N Sync, Britney Spears, Nelly, Mary J. Blige, 2001: The group encore of “Walk This Way” represented a perfect moment in pop, with five radio stars all at their commercial high point: Brit Brit was skinny and upbeat in her midriff-baring football jersey; ‘N Sync’s Justin Timberlake was already bringing sexy back with his funky chicken dance; Mary J. Blige had spiky red hair and, oh, that voice; Nelly was spitting pure fire; and grandpa/pied piper Steven Tyler seemed younger, bolder, and more energetic than them all.
5. Rolling Stones, 2006: The year after nipple-gate, Super Bowl officials were in desperate need of a no-B.S. headliner who could restore the rock-factor to the halftime slot. Though a five-second delay was established to censor any potentially explicit material — certain lyrics were ultimately blocked by editors — the band offered a rockin’ show without sacrificing too much of their edgy style, thanks in part to the band’s trademark “tongue” logo flying behind them.