Best Super Bowl halftimes - the top two
No. 2 - U2 (2002 - Super Bowl XXXVI)
U2's performance was more important than just a Super Bowl halftime. This came just a few months after 9/11 and many artists did not want to do the gig. Janet Jackson was originally scheduled to perform but decided to drop out after 9/11. That was selfish. U2 turned the moment into what it should have been, something Jackson was likely incapable of. Instead, U2 found the right tone to honor those who had passed during 9/11 but also find a way to look positively into the future.
They start with "Beautiful Day" and then turned to "MLK" with a curtain showing the names of the dead while the song played. The moment was emotionally cathartic and extremely well-done. But going smoothly from "MLK" to "Where the Streets Have No Name" and ending the show with Bono opening his jacket to reveal and American flag sown in showed that the Irish band had a better feel on what America needed than American artists did.
No. 1 - Prince (2007 - Super Bowl XLI)
There is Prince's halftime performance and then there is everyone else that has ever performed. There is a chasm between the quality of Prince's performance and U2's and U2 is still the second-best Super Bowl halftime show ever. Prince not only turned in one of the best halftime performances ever but one of the best gigs ever recorded. He put on a masterclass of what entertainment is supposed to be.
And he did it all in a thunderstorm while wearing boots on a slick surface. He did not just do a greatest hits sets, either. He covered the Foo Fighters' "The Best of You," and Jim Hendrix' (via Bob Dylan) "All Along the Watchtower." No one else - and I mean no one else - could have completed a turn of Queens' "We Will Rock You" into "Let's Go Crazy" more seamlessly. This was not just a great halftime show; this was literally the best humanity can do.