Never mind the action on the field in the NFL’s showpiece game: for many, this weekend will be all about Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar. And the man who helped bring the nostalgic Super Bowl LVI halftime show to life is a British television producer named Hamish Hamilton.
Since the 2010s, the now 55-year-old and award-winning Hamilton has been involved in showcasing musicians so famous we know them by one name: Madonna! Beyonce ! Gaga! – or bands that marked an entire generation, such as Coldplay, Maroon 5 and the Black Eyes Peas.
Global interest in the halftime show is nothing new, although 2022 marks the 31st anniversary of the NFL’s shift from traditional marching bands to contemporary music acts – and what a change that was.
Super Bowl XXV – held in Tampa in 1991 – kicked off with a sublime rendition of the Star Spangled Banner from none other than Whitney Houston.
The halftime was billed as “A Small World Salute to 25 Years of the Special Bowl” featuring New Kids on the Block, although the day’s events intervene.
Operation Desert Storm caused the show to be postponed until the end of the game with a feature on the Gulf War instead.
It was a watershed moment and the league never looked back, reserving household names like Michael Jackson, Diana Ross and Boyz II Men in the 1990s.
The Aughts witnessed U2’s cathartic performance after 9/11, Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake’s infamous ‘Nipplegate’ incident in 2004 and Prince in 2007 – often cited as the greatest halftime ever. story.
All of these performances were defining moments before Hamilton took the reins in 2010.
As we all look forward to tonight’s halftime performance, here’s a look back at some of the most memorable halftime shows.
Michael Jackson’s performance in 1993
In 1993, Michael Jackson brought his trademark pageantry to the event. Prior to this, the show was mostly dominated by marching bands.
Jackson’s performance – presented by no less than James Earl Jones – opened with him springing eight feet into the air under the stage (a trademark of his 1992 Dangerous World Tour), against a backdrop of pyrotechnics.
He then stood still for a minute and a half in a military-inspired black and gold ensemble, before launching into a medley of his hits.
Performance of Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake at the 2004 Super Bowl
Another Jackson made headlines in 2004 for her halftime performance. Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake’s performance in 2004 will forever be remembered as the incident that introduced “wardrobe malfunction” into popular parlance.
During a duet, Timberlake ripped off part of Jackson’s bustier, exposing her chest to millions of viewers, and “Nipplegate” was born.
Many people were unhappy. The Federal Communications Commission reportedly received more than 500,000 indecency complaints about 9/16 of a second of exposed flesh and fined CBS, the network that airs the game, and its affiliates $550,000. (The fine was overturned by the Supreme Court in 2012.)
Prince’s performance at the 2007 Super Bowl during a downpour
Prince’s iconic Super Bowl halftime performance is the epitome of the saying, “The show must go one.”
The legendary entertainer performed in treacherous weather conditions with a thunderstorm as a backdrop and a very slippery stage.
Prince – wearing a blue suit and an orange button down shirt, his hair covered in a black scarf – performing ‘Purple Rain’ amid a torrential storm, a purple ‘symbol’ guitar in his hand , was a glorious finale to a performance that saw one of the most incandescent artists in history go all out for 140 million views.
Beyoncé’s 2016 Super Bowl performance with Coldplay
While Coldplay headlined the 2016 Super Bowl halftime show, it was Beyonce who left an impact.
Beyoncé donned a bandolier of bullets, similar to the one worn by Michael Jackson on his 1993 world tour. Her backup dancers all wore black ensembles with berets and afros — an image some said was reminiscent of the moves of Blank Planter from the 1960s.
Beyoncé’s performance became a subject of controversy and some called it politically motivated, others called it law enforcement.
Protests were organized and #BoycottBeyonce was created. An invitation to a protest read, “Are you offended as an American that Beyoncé did her baiting stunt at the Superbowl?”