From Maroon 5 to the Black-Eyed Peas….the five worst Super Bowl half-time shows of all time

With the Immersed Festival beginning on Thursday, February 29, we’ve been taking a look at the close relationship between music and sport. Here, REUEL ROACH picks his five most catastrophic Super Bowl half-time sets

In many ways, sport and music go hand in hand.

That’s whether it’s national anthems played at the beginning of an event, or iconic theme music to introduce the spectacle – for example, the Champions League anthem or Keith Mansfield’s “Light and Tuneful” for Wimbledon.

Sometimes though, the relationship appears strained….none more so than at half-time of various Super Bowl showpieces down the years, where performing artists have often been slated for what they offered.

So who are guiltiest parties? Let’s take a look at the top five, in descending order……

5. Maroon 5 (2019)

Maroon 5 headlined Super Bowl 53 in the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta Georgia, and just like the game itself, the performance was a disappointment.

The half-time show featured guest performances from rappers, Travis Scott & Big Boi – both of whom received a good reception, but failed to deliver for different reasons.

Big Boi’s performance was too brief, whilst Travis Scott, despite his inventive entrance, was noisy and all over the place, and also noisy with very little musicality.

Furthermore, Maroon 5 don’t have enough hits, and were hardly relevant by this time.

Maroon 5 perform at half-time

4. Madonna (2012)

Super Bowl 46 took place in Indianapolis, Indiana at the Lucas Oil Stadium.

Madonna was the main attraction for the half-time show and brought out fellow musicians Nicki Minaj, CeeLo Green, and M.I.A.

Madonna entered the stadium reminiscent of Cleopatra in the 1960 epic of the same name, with backing singers and dancers similarly dressed in Roman-Egyptian themed clothing.

She kicked off the show with her 1990 hit song, Vogue. The performance consisted of plenty of backing track and a whole lot of noise.

Guest stars Nicki Minaj & M.I.A. proved to be nothing more than cheerleaders as their brief rap performances were sandwiched by them literally waving pom poms in the air.

CeeLo Green was relegated to the role of a karaoke singer, as he sang along to Madonna’s music but had no set of his own.

Madonna and her Cleopatra-themed set

3. The Who (2010)

Super Bowl 44 in Miami Gardens, Florida was at the Sun Life Stadium and The Who, an English rock band, took centre stage as the half-time entertainment.

What followed was 15 minutes of boredom.

It was a very forgettable performance, with less glitz and glamour than half-time shows before and after.

The Who performed only one song that I recognised – “Who Are You”, which I had no idea they sang, and only knew because it was the theme song for CSI Miami.

For me, the best thing about the show was the stage.

The Who at the Super Bowl

2. Aerosmith & NSYNC (2001)

Another half-time show that may as well have had no guest appearances was Super Bowl 35, which took place in Tampa, Florida at the Raymond James Stadium, and was headlined by Aerosmith and NSYNC.

It was a half-time show that turned out to be a waste of time.

It included poor dance routines from NSYNC, music from Aerosmith that just isn’t any good, and arguably the most pointless guest appearances of all time from Nelly, Mary J. Blige, and Britney Spears.

They added nothing of note to the performance, and just sang along with Aerosmith.

Aerosmith and friends in Super Bowl chaos

1. Black Eyed Peas (2011)

Super Bowl 45 was hosted at the Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, with the Black-Eyed Peas headlining the show as the NFL took a different approach from years previous, which consisted of a string of rock group performances.

This new approach crashed and burned, as what followed was the worst Super Bowl half-time show off all time.

A chaotic mess – from sound problems to Fergie’s awful singing took centre stage, not to mention the below par vocal performances from the other members of the group.

It’s called singing, not shouting musically. Guest appearances from Slash and Usher could do nothing to salvage the show.

The undoubted worst Super Bowl performance of all-time.

Black-eyed Peas and not their finest hour

And finally…a couple of (not so) honourable mentions…

Super Bowl 40, 2006.

Headlined by the Rolling Stones and featuring bad dancing by Mick Jagger, this was simply lots of noise.

The highlight of the show was the stage which took the form of the Rolling Stones logo. It was not my kind of music.

Super Bowl 29, 1995

Headlined by Patti Labelle and Tony Bennett, it was an Indiana Jones themed half-time show.

In a word, It was terrible, with no relevance to the Super Bowl, and the re-enactments between musical performances only added to the problem.

If I wanted to see Indiana Jones, I would watch the movie.

Don’t get me started on the addition of The Lion King segment.