The Most Bizarre Super Bowl Halftime Disasters Ever

TJ Farhadi

Super Bowl 50 is right around the corner and people have dusted the snow off their smokers and stocked up on beer. This year features two of the most prominent quarterbacks of the year; one of which might retire after the clock hits zero. Regardless of who wins, Sunday should be entertaining in all aspects. Coldplay, Bruno Mars, and Beyonce are all scheduled to appear during halftime. There’s no way of knowing what controversy might ensue this year. However, taking a look at the past might give us some indication. These eight wonderfully disastrous halftime shows will get you in the mood for the big event.   


1. World of Children’s Dreams

Tops In Blue – 1985

Joe Montana vs. Dan Marino—epic. The halftime show was not. Hosted in Palo Alto, CA, Super Bowl XIX was one for the books with Montana breaking records and the square off between two NFL greats. If only the halftime show would have lived up to the expectations of such a highlighted game. Tops in Blue is a touring performance ensemble consisting of only US Air Force members and veterans. The show started off with a giant storybook flipping through pages of a child’s dream. There was a giant piano, a pirate ship, a tribute to NASA, and balloons releasing into the sky as someone sang “If You Believe.” With no celebrities or known musicians, the show was nothing short of a snoozefest. Sorry, boys.  


2. 3-D Magic

Elvis Presto – 1989

It was Super Bowl 23 and the halftime show was absurd to say the least. 3-D was on its way to popularity and the network decided they were going to broadcast the halftime show in this fascinating new format. That’s unfortunately not the absurd part. Magic is cool and all, but on the biggest stage in the nation? No thank you. The show featured magician/singer/dancer/Elvis impersonator “Elvis Presto”. The entire set was filled with tacky magic and unorganized choreography. Neither Bob Costas nor the performance were in sync for this show. The entire thing seemed poorly put together. Call Chris Angel next time.  


3. Winter Wonderland

Brian Boitano and Dorothy Hammill – 1992

In the arctic cold that is Minnesota, Super Bowl XXVI attempted to combine sports and music for a halftime show. That sounds like a pretty great idea, right? Wrong. Tacky ice skating on snowflake ice rinks and waving hockey sticks to Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” killed the vibe. So much so that people clicked away to watch In Living Color rather than the halftime show. It was the first time anyone really challenged the Super Bowl programming schedule. Some sports aren’t meant to mix.  


4. Indiana Jones

Disney – 1995

Nothing says football like a theatrical performance of Indiana Jones. It was clever, yet incredibly unexpected. I don’t think anyone really knows how they feel about this. It started with a man engulfed in flames that stole the Lombardi Trophy for some odd reason. There were tribal drums, villains, sword fighting, lasers, skydivers, and Tony Bennett saving Indy in a bar brawl by bonking a bad guy on the noggin. Yeah, that last one is true. None of the dancers seemed on cue and it left people confused and disoriented. We might as well forget this Super Bowl considering the game wasn’t even interesting. The 49ers stomped the Chargers 49-26. At least they tried.  


5. Blues Brothers Bash

Blues Brothers – 1997

I don’t even know where to start. I shed tears thinking about this botched performance. Everyone loves the classic Blues Brothers movie; it was a staple in motion picture musical entertainment. John Belushi’s death was a terrible loss to the world. Fifteen years later, they tried to reboot the movie franchise with John Goodman as a stand in. The movie was not good. The worst part? Jim Belushi stepped in to perform during the halftime show at Super Bowl XXXI. I thought you had to have musical talent to perform? It was embarrassing, uncomfortable, and a terrible tribute to the movie and our beloved John. For now, we’ll just stick to our digital copies of the Blues Brothers.  


6. You’re Number One

M.I.A. – 2012

The performance was mainly centered around Madonna, so let’s give credit to the Material Girl. Overall, not my favorite halftime show, but it could’ve been worse. Madonna brought out guests Nicki Minaj and M.I.A. which was pretty cool. However, during a performance of “Give Me All Your Luvin”, M.I.A. flipped the bird to the camera while mouthing “I don’t give a shit.” The FCC received 222 complains for the improper motion, and the NFL followed by fining M.I.A. $16 million.  


7. Nipplegate

Janet Jackson & JT – 2004

This is by far the most popular halftime show of all time. Even if you aren’t a football fan, you probably heard about Janet Jackson’s famous nip slip caused by the suave Justin Timberlake. The entire show was filled with controversy that included Kid Rock in an American flag cut into a poncho and Nelly grabbing his crotch. MTV claimed they had no idea it would happen and that it was clearly a mistake, stating it was “unrehearsed, unplanned, and completely unintentional.” Either way, it went down as one of the top most memorable halftime shows ever. Thanks for the memories!  


8. Left Shark

Katy Perry – 2015

Halloween 2015 was infested with Left Shark costumes after the magical halftime show that was put on by Katy Perry. First off, she rode in on a giant mechanical lion. I don’t know about you, but I lost it when I saw that. Second, what was Left Shark on and where do I get some? He seemed to be in his own world but the crowd loved it. If you haven’t seen the video of his complete disregard for choreography, please watch it. The performance was then followed with a guest appearance by Missy Elliott which, uhm hello, was incredible. Easily the most entertaining performance in recent years. You go, Left Shark.  


TJ Farhadi
Author, Home Automation

TJ Farhadi is seriously concerned with anything having to do with automation and AI. In addition to seeking out the latest and greatest technologies, he loves kayaking across Lake Union.