#6: Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (Super Bowl XLIII, 2009)
Why it was amazing: The Boss was clearly having a blast during this mini-concert, which he kicked off with a message to the millions of Americans watching at home: “For the next 12 minutes, we're going to bring the righteous and mighty power of the E Street Band into your beautiful home! I want you to step back from the guacamole dip! I want you to put the chicken fingers down! And turn your television all the way up!” But the band's four-song set might be best remembered for a small choreographic hiccup: Bruce sliding across the stage on his knees and smashing into the camera — torso (ahem) first!
Watch it here: Bruce Springseen and the E Street Band at Super Bowl XLIII
#5: Madonna, featuring LMFAO, Cirque du Soleil, Nicki Minaj, M.I.A., CeeLo Green, Andy Lewis and more (Super Bowl XLVI, 2012)
Why it was amazing: You could never accuse the Queen of Pop of not knowing how to share the spotlight. Her 2012 halftime show, which had a vaguely Roman gladiator–meets–Ancient Egypt–meets–college pep rally theme, was filled to bursting with guest performers: slacklining stuntman Andy Lewis, electronic dance duo LMFAO (whose two members are the son and grandson of Motown Records founder Berry Gordy, 91!), rappers Nicki Minaj and M.I.A., soul singer CeeLo Green, 100 drummers, 200 choir singers and 150 gladiators. And it somehow all worked beautifully.
Watch it here: Madonna at Super Bowl XLVI
#4: Aerosmith, NSYNC, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige and Nelly (Super Bowl XXXV, 2001)
Why it was amazing: This intergenerational experiment seemed as if it were created in a lab to appeal to the most guests at your Super Bowl party. Starting with a prerecorded sketch featuring Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler and Chris Rock, the set then traded off song by song between Aerosmith and NSYNC — the first of three Super Bowl appearances for Justin Timberlake. For the all-star finale of “Walk This Way,” both groups were joined onstage by Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige and St. Louis rapper Nelly, whom you might recognize from the last season of Dancing With the Stars.
Watch it here: Aerosmith and NSYNC at Super Bowl XXXV
#3: Beyoncé, featuring Destiny's Child (Super Bowl XLVII, 2013)
Why it was amazing: Just weeks after performing at Barack Obama's second inauguration, Beyoncé headlined the Super Bowl in a fierce performance that saw her reteaming with Destiny's Child bandmates Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams — who memorably took to the stage by popping up through the floor like pieces of toast! After the electrifying performance, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome plunged into a 34-minute blackout, and the one-two punch really got people talking: At the time, Twitter reported that the performance and the power outage were the first and second most-tweeted-about moments in the social media platform's history.
Watch it here: Beyoncé at Super Bowl XLVII
M. Caulfield/WireImage; KMazur/WireImage
#2: U2 (Super Bowl XXXVI, 2002)
Why it was amazing: Just five months after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Irish rockers took to a heart-shaped stage at the Louisiana Superdome to deliver a powerful tribute to those we lost. Bono started the set with his recent hit “Beautiful Day,” as he waded to the stage through a sea of fans. As the Rock & Roll Hall of Famers played “MLK” and “Where the Streets Have No Name,” the names of 9/11 heroes scrolled up a giant screen to the heavens behind the band. Bono ended the set with a simple gesture of affection and support, opening his jacket to reveal the American flag inside.
Watch it here: U2 at Super Bowl XXXVI
#1: Prince (Super Bowl XLI, 2007)
Why it was amazing: The platonic ideal of a perfect Super Bowl set saw Prince ripping through his greatest hits and dipping into a few perfectly chosen covers, including “Proud Mary” and “All Along the Watchtower.” The stage was shaped like his trademark love symbol (remember when he briefly changed his name to the unpronounceable icon?), and he was backed by the Florida A&M University Marching 100 Band. Even Mother Nature got in on the action: The show took place during a torrential downpour, which somehow made his “Purple Rain” finale all the more powerful. Producer Don Mischer later recalled that when he phoned His Royal Badness to tell him it was raining, Prince had a perfect response: “Can you make it rain harder?"
Watch it here: Prince at Super Bowl XLI