For those who aren’t into sports, the NFL Super Bowl is mostly about watching cute guys run around in tight shorts and shoulder pads. Not the worst way to spend a slow Sunday, if you ask us.
For those millions of people, the biggest sporting event in the US pales in comparison to the great halftime show – a 15-minute display of jaw-dropping pyrotechnics extravaganza performed by America’s top talent.
Once a boring intermission reserved to marching bands, the halftime show was completely transformed in 1993 when Michael Jackson took the stage and single-handedly changed the game with a performance that broke all records, making the Super Bowl so much better for you and for me and the entire human race.
Since then, the halftime show has become one of the most anticipated traditions of the annual NFL Super Bowl championship, often gaining more total views than the actual game itself.
Today, the names Bengals and Rams still mean as little to me as Manolo Blahnik means to my grandpa. But whether you’re into face painting or Swarovski crystals, you have got to admire a tradition that brings literally everyone in the US together for one night.
This year, The NFL announced an impressive lineup with Kendrick Lamar, Dr. Dre, Mary J. Blige, Snoop Dogg, and Eminem set to take the stage. While it is past time for these rappers to solidify their legacy, we can’t move on before dedicating 4 of our favorite vegan slides to the greatest halftime shows that changed the game forever.
1999: Stevie Wonder helps say farewell to generations past with jazzy Sir Duke
Granted, this isn’t the most spectacular halftime show of all times but that doesn’t stop it from being one of the most memorable.
It began with Stevie Wonder entering the field in a vintage automobile while singing “Sir Duke” and went on with him getting up from his keyboard and joining Savion Glover in a fun tap dancing session.
We’d be remiss not to mention that he was later joined by Gloria Estefan and the underrated swing band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and that together they performed a glorious 11-minute jam-like piece titled “Soul, Salsa and Swing”.
But the real star of the show was Wonder. If not for his music, Wonder would forever be admired for his optimism and for not letting anything stand in his way of enjoying life to the fullest. And that halftime show was a real testament to his character.
Now in his 70th decade, this monumental performer has a special place in music history as one who’s helped popularize jazz, R&B, soul and gospel and for being an icon of pop music and of civil rights for ages.
Back in 1999, his performance was the best farewell anyone could think of for an entire generation of legendary creators, musicians and performers like Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald as well as Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye, and all other soul musicians who made us feel things all over.
To him we dedicate LOVE 2.0 ROSA slides, because sometimes you should just call to say I love you.
1996: Diana Ross makes a grand exit
26 years after leaving the Supremes, Ms. Ross redefined what it means to be a diva when she put on the greatest show the Super Bowl and possibly the world has ever seen.
Her 12-minute performance included 4 outfit changes, beginning with a red sequin mini dress that glittered as a crane of sparklers lowered her to the stage. While hundreds of dancers spelled out her name on the field, she changed into a flurry of head-to-toe orange ruffles.
She then managed to get the entire stadium to join in on the routine, spelling out the word “Love” as she was being lifted up and above on a glittering pedestal wearing a red bodysuit and gold cape.
She was in a purple jumpsuit by the time a helicopter appeared over Sun Devil Stadium. “Oh my, here comes my ride!” she coyly proclaimed and was soon whisked offstage with her legs swinging in the air while singing “take me higher, I will survive!”
Ms. Ross’s show will be no less remembered for performing her gospel-inflected “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”. The rest of her all-time hits were just as exhilarating, including “Stop! In the Name of Love”, “Baby Love”, and “You Can’t Hurry Love”, many of which notably helped usher Motown into a new decade.
By the way, we think there was a football game going on at the time but who can remember.
Dedicating Capri Slides to the greatest diva of our generation is a no-brainer.
2016: Queen B celebrates black American culture, puts Coldplay in her rear-view mirror
After raising the bar for all future performers back in 2013, Beyoncé took the halftime show stage again, this time as a guest performer during Coldplay’s 2016 show.
Just one day before Super Bowl Sunday, Beyoncé released a surprise new single. “Formation” was accompanied by a politically charged music video with powerful Hurricane Katrina and Black Lives Matter imagery.
The release was carefully timed. Performing it for the first time during a spotlight as mainstream as the Super Bowl, Beyoncé was clearly sending out a message. First, it was a powerful tribute to the Black Lives Matter movement, fittingly performed in February - Black History Month. Second, it was a reminder that beyond entertainment music is an art form and, as such, a powerful political tool.
Her back-up dancers were dressed in all black, with black berets and afros, a wink to the 1960s Black Panther Party. She herself donned a bandolier of bullets, another wink to Michael Jackson’s 1993 military-inspired blazer and harness.
Needless to say, the reaction to her performance was rabid, making Coldplay seem like an adorable little boy band.
It is an honor to dedicate these GLITTER-BLACK slides to the one and only Queen B.
2007: Prince’s unforgettable Purple Rain during downpour
Living up to his name, Prince’s celebrated and intoxicating flair for showmanship meant he wasn’t going to let himself be overshadowed by the biggest sporting event of the year.
His 2007 halftime show was made up of an exhilarating 12-minute set that culminated in the electrifying performance of his “Purple Rain” under the pouring rain of a South Florida downpour. With the palm trees bending and swaying and the lighting shooting up through the unrelenting rain, it was a moment that far transcended even the greatest of all sporting and music events.
In a Rolling Stone interview, producer Don Mischer recalls the moments leading up to the show:
“He called up Prince to tell him he’d probably have to perform his halftime show in the middle of a torrential downpour. ‘I want you to know it’s raining,’ Mischer said. ‘Are you OK?’ Prince had a very simple response: ‘Can you make it rain harder?’”
And he was right to be chill about the weather. Never in the history of live music has an artist been more in sync with the elements than Prince was that day. He made it seem like Mother Nature was creating a dramatic effect just for him.
Even before the halftime show, “Purple Rain” was already one of the most iconic power ballads of all time. But the apocalyptic performance really took both the song and artist to supernova level.
For Prince, the color purple symbolized the end of the world and the meaning of the song was about “being with the one you love and letting your faith guide you through the purple rain”. That rainy day in 2007 fitted just perfectly with the meaning of the song, making it by far the greatest halftime show of all times.
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