Ranking Super Bowl performances

Artists deserve credit for their halftime shows

Image by: Amna Rafiq
Katy Perry’s dancing sharks are unforgettable.

The 57th annual Super Bowl took place on Feb. 12, and while some watch the Super Bowl for football (weird), many watch it for the halftime show.

The spectacle of halftime performances is almost always equally split in praise and criticism. Though, I’m more times than not delightfully pleased with the performances. Here’s my take on the top three most memorable, engaging, and well-performed halftime acts.

3. Bruno Mars

This performance began a little cult-like, with “Billionaire” performed by children holding their hands up in the dark with red letters behind them. That vibe immediately stopped when Mars appeared in a gold suit playing the drums.

Going straight into “Locked Out of Heaven,” his voice was phenomenal, the energy was exceptional, and his charisma shone through in his songs. Whenever you watch him perform, you remember why Mars has a collection of Grammy awards.

I loved that the band wasn’t a traditional bass, lead guitar, drum mix—Mars had performers out on stage with trumpets, trombones, and saxophones. All band members were fully invested in his choreography, and I don’t blame them. I mean, how can you not dance to songs like “Treasure” and “Runaway”?

While his singing and dancing is engaging enough, the light show on stage made it even better. Then he brought out the Red Hot Chili Peppers to up the energy even more before transitioning into “Just the Way You Are,” which served as a tribute from members serving in the U.S. military to their loved ones.

Talk about melting my heart.

2. Lady Gaga

When I think about the criticism people give Super Bowl performances, the criteria they always mention—like outfit changes, extravagant dance numbers, and memorable stage presence—are perfectly reflected in Lady Gaga’s halftime Show.

Prior to A-Star-is-Born Gaga existed sparkly, fanatical, but phenomenal-performing Gaga. This Gaga was alive and well in this half time show.

If the standard for an excellent halftime show includes hanging in the air, not spending more than one second not dancing, playing instruments, and a costume change, I think Gaga takes the cake. Plus, she has so many hits that no one could be disappointed with the songs played.

Gaga performed hits like “Poker Face,” “Born This Way,” “Telephone,” an intimate performance of “A Million Reasons,” and then “Bad Romance” while being carried in the air by her dancers.

She ran around the stage so much I’d count it as a cardio workout and finished the show with a legitimate mic drop. Iconic.

1. Katy Perry

Three words: costumes, props, and sharks. 

While Perry’s performance also meets the criteria that Gaga achieved, Perry’s performance was placed at number one on my ranking because I found it to be the most memorable.

This was due to the well-designed costumes of not only her own styled outfits, but her dancers’ design as well. No one can tell me they don’t remember the dancing sharks from her performance of “Teenage Dream.”

Perry had three costume changes throughout her performance. Starting in a fire dress, she goes into a bright summer dress, a jersey dress, and then an elegant glittery gown. This is more than most, if not all, other Super Bowl halftime performances.

All her performances were well-done, with hits like “California Girls,” “Firework,” and “I Kissed a Girl” also featured on the set list. Not to mention she had two special guests—Missy Elliot and Lenny Kravitz—to add to the performance’s music variety.

Perry’s performance is the perfect example of a memorable, energetic, and well-performed halftime show. Not to mention, she came riding in on a gigantic lion for her performance of “Roar.” You can’t seriously dismiss that.


While these are my top three—Rihanna, Coldplay, and Beyoncé get honourable mentions—so many of the Super Bowl performances deserve more celebration than criticism.

I hope in the future we can look to appreciate the work artists put into their halftime show rather than holding them to an unspoken standard that isn’t always attainable.

We can’t all have dancing sharks at the halftime show.


Bruno Mars, Halftime Show, Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, SuperBowl

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