A Definitive Ranking of the 5 Best Female Super Bowl Halftime Performances

By Mya Singleton / @MyaMelody7

It’s that time of year again when football fans prepare to see men take over sports' biggest night, the Super Bowl. Although football may arguably be coined as a “man’s game,” there is no doubt that women have been the pinnacle at some of the best halftime shows. Super Bowl LI is no different as pop singer Lady Gaga will headline this Sunday’s show as the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons prepare for the second half of the title game.

Although this is Gaga’s first halftime performance, she is no stranger to the big game. The “Poker Face” singer won the hearts of many with her stunning performance of the National Anthem at Super Bowl 50. However, while being the headliner during halftime is a totally different ball game, it's also a key marketing strategy for artists. Whether the performance helps boost album sales or tour announcements, it’s a stage that any artist would dream to be on. The shows have consistently grown with massive productions and the women have used it to their full advantage. So in honor of Lady Gaga representing for the women this Sunday, here are the top five Super Bowl halftime performances from leading ladies:

5) Diana Ross, 1996

In proper diva fashion, Diana Ross knows how to show fans her boss moves. She performed a medley of Motown hits including “Stop in the Name of Love” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” all accompanied with a number of wardrobe changes, of course! Not only does a diva know how to work a stage, but she also makes sure her exit leaves a lasting impression. At the end of Ross’ performance she says, “Oh my! Here comes my ride” as a helicopter lands in the middle of stage to whisk her away into the clouds. Only a boss can leave like Ross in a chopper!

4) Madonna, 2012

Madonna is the type of performer who never goes out of style. Her stellar showmanship shined through as she performed classics such as “Vogue” and “Like A Prayer.” She also kept the show fresh for young viewers by bringing on LMFAO, Nicki Minaj, M.I.A. and Ceelo Green to share the stage. Between her special guests, tightrope dancers, and marching band, she proved that artists can perfectly mix different music eras to please any crowd.

3) Katy Perry, 2015

Katy Perry knows how to keep her shows cool, hip, and funky. She made quite the entrance as she rode on top of a giant lion puppet to perform her hit song “Roar.” The stage then transformed into a space-age view as her dancers took over to “Dark Horse.” It’s pretty hard to forget her bubblegum pop beach scene with the famous Left Shark dancer as they dazzled to “Teenage Dream” and “California Girls.”

However, the highlight of Perry’s halftime performance was the special guests. Legendary rock star Lenny Kravitz joined the singer on her breakout hit “I Kissed a Girl.” She then welcomed rap veteran Missy Elliott to the stage to perform hits like “Get Ur Freak On” and “Lose Control.” Although Missy’s appearance wasn’t much of a surprise since word leaked out just days before the game, many fans were thrilled Perry brought some classic rap nostalgia to the forefront. Not only did Perry take fans back in time, but she also reintroduced Missy to the younger generation. Just a few hours after the show aired, Missy saw a nearly 1,000 percent boost in music sales, according to Billboard. Thanks, Katy Perry!

2) Janet Jackson, 2004

Super Bowl XXXVIII will go down in history as the most memorable halftime show ever. In 2004, Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake were the talk of the town, not only after this show, but also for future halftime shows. Ms. Jackson performed show-stopping numbers of her hits “All For You” and “Rhythm Nation” before Timberlake joined her to perform “Rock Your Body.” At the end of his song, the two had a wardrobe malfunction as Timberlake ripped part of Jackson’s costume top, bearing the singer’s cleavage to the world. Ultimately, the incident became the most discussed topic about the Super Bowl.

It’s easy for fans to forget that Kid Rock, Diddy and Nelly were also part of the halftime show, let alone what happened during the second half of the game. The performance landed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the most searched item in Internet history. Yes, Ms. Jackson was breaking the Internet way before all your favorite social media stars. Unfortunately, the incident blacklisted Janet from a number of future televised appearances, however that didn’t stop fans from supporting her music. Since that year, she still tours worldwide and continues to sell millions of records.

1a) Beyoncé, 2013 and 2016

Last but not least, the crown of leading ladies goes to the queen—Beyoncé. Let’s not forget, it was only a couple years ago when her husband Jay-Z proclaimed her as the “greatest living entertainer” and it’s hard to argue the fact. Queen Bey headlined the 2013 halftime show with an all-female band and all-female background dancers. She opened the show with her hit “Crazy In Love” before going into other tracks such as “Baby Boy” and “Love On Top.” However, the highlight of the night was when she welcomed Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams to the stage for the ultimate Destiny’s Child reunion. It was the trio’s first live show in seven years as they ran through “Independent Woman” and “Single Ladies.” It was the reunion all DC3 fans were waiting on, now they’re just patiently waiting for the trio to release new music.

In 2016, Beyoncé was a guest performer during Coldplay’s headlining slot, however Queen Bey and Bruno Mars ultimately took the shine away from Chris Martin’s crew. Hey, that’s what happens when you let ladies get in formation.


Good luck Gaga, you have some strong acts to follow! What was your favorite performance from a female artist in Super Bowl history?

One Reply to “A Definitive Ranking of the 5 Best Female Super Bowl Halftime Performances”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.