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12 of the Most Memorable Super Bowl Halftime Performances

The very first Super Bowl occurred in 1967; but until the 1990s it was mostly college marching bands and drill teams performing during the halftime show. Of course, recently it has been a who's who—including The Who—of performers that have graced the halftime stage for the big game. Here are some of the most memorable Super Bowl halftime performances ever.

Michael Jackson (Super Bowl XXVII)

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In an effort to beat the ratings of Super Bowl counterprogramming like In Living Color, the NFL booked the King of Pop for 1993's Super Bowl halftime show. Jackson's stellar performance set the bar incredibly high for future performers to measure up to.

Photo: Steve Granitz / Contributor

Janet Jackson, P. Diddy, Nelly, Kid Rock, and Justin Timberlake (Super Bowl XXXVIII)

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Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004 will forever be known for Janet Jackson's XXX-rated "wardrobe malfunction" when Justin Timberlake took his song "Rock Your Body"'s lyrics—"I'm going to get you naked by the end of this song"—a little too literally. The event was foreshadowed—maybe?— by Nelly's performance of "Hot in Herre."

Photo: Jeff Kravitz / Contributor

Paul McCartney (Super Bowl XXXIX)

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Hoping the previous year's wardrobe malfunction controversy would live and let die, the NFL booked former Beatle and musical icon Paul McCartney to play the halftime show in 2005.

Photo: Kevin Mazur / Contributor

Bruno Mars with special guests Red Hot Chili Peppers (XLVIII)

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Accompanied by his band The Hooligans, in 2014 Bruno Mars became the youngest performer to headline a Super Bowl. Despite Mars' youth, the performance, with help from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, was nominated for a Primetime Emmy.

Photo: Jamie Squire / Staff

The Rolling Stones (Super Bowl XL)

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Super Bowl XL's larger-than-life halftime show could make a grown man cry. The 2006 audience found satisfaction with the performance of headliners The Rolling Stones. And who wouldn't, with Mick Jagger on hand to show off his moves?

Photo: Al Messerschmidt / Staff

Katy Perry with special guests Lenny Kravitz and Missy Elliot (Super Bowl XLIX)

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Reminiscent of a recent fever dream, Katy Perry's 2015 performance included Lenny Kravitz, Missy Elliot (who put it down), a giant mechanical tiger, dancing sharks, and some pretty sweet 3-D graphics on the football field.

Photo: Rob Carr / Staff

The Who (Super Bowl XLIV)

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Who better than The Who to rock Sun Life Stadium during the 2010 Super Bowl halftime show? I tip my hat to Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend for this classic performance from a classic band.

Photo: Michael Zagaris / Contributor

Beyoncé with Special Guests Destiny's Child (Super Bowl XLVII)

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Even in the male-dominated NFL, Beyoncé continues to rule the world. Joined by her former girl group, Destiny's Child, Beyoncé's 2013 performance was one of the most-tweeted-about moments in history.

Photo: Al Pereira / Contributor

Aerosmith, 'N Sync, Britney Spears, Mary J. Blige, Nelly (Super Bowl XXXV)

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The 2001 Super Bowl show was one for the ages: Aerosmith, Britney Spears, 'N Sync, Nelly, AND Mary J. Blige? This halftime show had a little something for everybody.

Photo: KMazur / Contributor

U2 (Super Bowl XXXVI)

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U2 rocked the 2002 halftime show in a touching tribute to those killed in the 9/11 attacks.

Photo: KMazur / Contributor

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers (XLII)

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Rock-and-roll fans were anything but heartbroken after the 2008 Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers Super Bowl halftime performance.

Photo: Jeff Kravitz / Contributor

Madonna with Special Guests LMFAO, Nicki Minaj, M.I.A. and CeeLo Green (Super Bowl XLVI)

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Familiar with controversial performances (see here and here), Madonna was surprisingly MIA from 2012's halftime show controversy involving M.I.A. flipping off the entire audience.

Photo: Jeff Kravitz / Contributor

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