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The Super Bowl halftime show is one of the most high profile gigs in music. You get only 12 minutes, maybe less, if you’re sharing the stage. For some, it’s a blur of glory. For others it feels like an eternity set to fireworks. In it’s 50 years, the Super Bowl halftime show has certainly seen its share of both triumphs and catastrophes. With Lady Gaga set to take the stage in Houston in 2017, here’s our list of the Super Bowl’s most historic halftime performances.

RELATED: Get your Super Bowl LI tickets from CheapTickets!

Flickr CC: Larry Darling

Flickr CC: Larry Darling

8. Katy Perry, Missy Elliot and Lenny Kravitz (2005)

There’s no doubt Katy Perry knows how to put on a good show. Who can forget the sight of Katy in her flame-print dress riding that gigantic metal lion? She did look a little stiff singing “Roar” atop her gigantic stead. Nevertheless, it was definitely one of the most memorable openings to any halftime show. Lenny Kravitz joined her for a particularly rocking version of “I Kissed A Girl.” As the first bars of “Get Your Freak On” start pounding out for the return of the fantastic Missy Elliot, the performance kicks into full gear. Yes, Katy gets slightly upstaged by her boisterous backup, Left Shark, and Missy, a supremely confident stage stealer, but ultimately this performance represents all the beautiful insanity that is a Super Bowl halftime show—turned up to 11.

Flickr CC: kyleburning

Flickr CC: kyleburning

7. Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, P. Diddy, Kid Rock, Jessica Simpson, and Nelly (2004)

Hands down the most famous Super Bowl halftime show in history, just for all the wrong reasons. One second of breast and Janet Jackson’s career was over. As nearly was Justin’s. The FCC fined CBS and it wasn’t until 2011 that a court finally quashed the penalties. The NFL even kicked ex-‘N Sync member JC Chasez off that year’s Pro Bowl halftime show for fear he would be too sexually suggestive. They opted instead for Hawaiian dancers. CBS forced Janet Jackson to apologize in a recorded statement. Oh, and the performances were pretty good, too.

Flickr CC: Teresa Sedo

Flickr CC: Teresa Sedo

6. Pete Fountain, Irma Thomas, and Doug Kershaw (1990)

The mashup is an NFL halftime tradition, but they can’t all be winners. While the Super Bowl has seen its fair share of insane combinations of talent over the years (the absolutely bizarre, yet oddly enthralling combo of ‘N Sync, Aerosmith, Nelly, Mary J. Blige and Britney Spears jumps to mind) this one takes the cake for insane pairings. A dual celebration of Mardi Gras and the 40 year anniversary of the Peanuts cartoon, it’s ridiculous and not even in a fun way. The show opens with Charlie Brown and company dancing along to a marching band and ends with Snoopy riding a Louisiana riverboat to “When The Saints Go Marching In” which segues into “Happy Birthday Charlie Brown.” Not one bit of it makes any sense.

5. Michael Jackson (1993)

For a long time the NFL treated the halftime show as a throwaway. Between 1967 and 1989, halftime shows were cheesy affairs. 1992’s halftime show featured Gloria Estefan performing with a group of Olympic figure skaters. It was better, but nobody watched it because “In Living Color” aired a comedy special at the exact same time. The very next year, the NFL brought in the king of pop for what turned out to be the last of Michael Jackson’s many great televised performances.

Right from the beginning, the star power was on in full effect. Jackson stood statue still for a full minute and a half, just letting the crowd go wild, before bursting into “Billy Jean.” The ending was cheesy, with a chorus of children joining in on “Heal The World,” but this was the beginning of the star studded halftime show lineups we’ve come to expect—and the NFL never looked back.

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Flickr CC: Steffane Lui

Flickr CC: Steffane Lui

4. Diana Ross (1996)

If Michael Jackson was the beginning of the Super Bowl halftime show’s celebrity power, Diana Ross paved the way for ridiculous spectacles like Katy Perry’s metal lion. The cinematography was a mess. But the performance was great, culminating in Diana’s big exit. A helicopter lands on the stage and she’s airlifted out of the stadium as the words “A true diva knows how to make a grand entrance and an even grander exit” flash onto the screen. And with that, the halftime show’s history of over-the-top pageantry was firmly cemented.

Flickr CC: PeterTea

Flickr CC: PeterTea

3. Prince (2007)

Just Prince doing his thing in the middle of a thunderstorm. The man absolutely brought it with fantastic covers of “We Will Rock You,” “Proud Mary” and “All Along The Watchtower,” as well as a few of his personal best. Only a few years after “nipplegate,” this was a daring choice for the NFL. Prince’s performance was undoubtedly sexy, but managed to stay cable network friendly. The finale of “Purple Rain” was one of the best any performer can hope to offer, and Prince’s guitar solo made it clear; if you weren’t going to actually play an instrument, you better at least have a metal lion or something.

Flickr CC: U2start

Flickr CC: U2start

2. U2 (2002)

More than a great show, this was a true historic moment. Bono and company started things out with a full rendition of “Beautiful Day.” Then the words “September 11th, 2001” flash onto a giant screen behind the band. You can actually hear a reverent hush fall over the cheering crowd as Bono begins “MLK,” then transitions into “Where The Streets Have No Name” as the names of survivors begin to scroll on the screen behind him. So much could have gone wrong and not just because a subpar performance would have been a disaster. U2 played it perfectly, from the song choices to the staging. As Bono shouts “America!” and an ocean of glow sticks wave pridefully back at him, you can still feel the intensity of the moment watching it years later. Powerful and unifying. It wasn’t a “wardrobe malfunction,” but it got America’s attention.

Flickr CC: Arnie Papp

Flickr CC: Arnie Papp

1. Coldplay, Bruno Mars, Beyoncé, and Mark Ronson (Let’s be honest, we’re talking about Bey’s part) (2016)

Beyoncé’s first Super Bowl performance in 2013 was undoubtedly a better show. She got top billing and reunited with Destiny’s Child. Easily one of the best halftime shows, it’s no surprise the NFL wanted her back just three years later. Coldplay opened with “Viva La Vida,” a perfect opening number, and Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson brought it to us with “Uptown Funk.” But it was Bey’s performance that made history.

She didn’t even need a stage, launching into “Formation” right on the field in front of a wall of fire. The song, and it’s accompanying music video is a clear indictment of racial inequality and police brutality. Beyoncé and her backup dancers dressed in outfits that evoked the Black Panthers. Just like U2’s performance, this was a show that became part of the American narrative. Not all historical events are unifying. Neither are all Super Bowl halftime shows. This was an amazing artist, using one of the biggest stages in show business to address a pressing social problem in American culture. Whether or not you feel it was appropriate, we will be talking about Beyoncé’s performance—especially people’s reaction to it—for years to come.   

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Tagged: City, Sports

Jesse Betend

Jesse Betend

Jesse is a writer and radio producer in Chicago. He is the Executive Producer for the embarrassing storytelling podcast "We Still Like You" and writes for the Chicago Sun-Times.
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Football’s biggest game will be held on Feb. 7 in Santa Clara, California, about an hour outside of San Francisco. After fans shell out most of their money on Super Bowl tickets, they can still score some fun with these cheap bay-area attractions. Here are 7 cheap things to do in San Francisco around game time.

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Some cliches exist for a reason. We dare you to visit San Fran and not post fora selfie with the Golden Gate Bridge. Credit San Francisco Travel Association/Can Balcioglu.

Golden Gate Bridge: Selfie potential is just one reason to visit this famous landmark. Check out free outdoor exhibits to learn about the construction of the bridge or take a free walking tour with San Francisco City Guides to learn the more in-depth history of the iconic structure.

Cable Car Museum: Riding cable cars is cheap enough, but visiting the Cable Car Museum is absolutely free. Scope out real parts and historic cable car photos, see antique cable cars up-close and buy a real cable car bell in the souvenir shop. How to get there? Take the Powell-Hyde or Powell-Mason cable car line, both of which stop at the museum.

Go "east," young man, to Chinatown. Credit San Francisco Travel Association/Scott Chernis.

Go “east,” young man, to Chinatown. Credit San Francisco Travel Association/Scott Chernis.

Chinatown: The country’s oldest Chinatown comprises not one but two adjacent blocks: Grant Avenue and Stockton Street. Wander the alleys, browse the shops and deliberate over which restaurant has the best dim sum. Get the lay of the land during a free walking tour with San Francisco City Guides.

Mission District: The city’s oldest neighborhood blends history with new. Mural-lined streets and historic landmarks pay tribute to Mission Dolores, founded in 1776, while new restaurants, art galleries, hipster thrift shops and bars give visitors a reason to return again and again.

Lands End: If your idea of Lands End is a preppy clothing catalog, then you’re definitely overdue to explore this scenic part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Hikethe gorgeous Coastal Trail, picnic amid the West Fort Miley batteries and explore the ruins of Sutro Baths.

Pier 39: Chicago has Navy Pier. Atlantic City has the Boardwalk. And San Francisco has this hot spot on the edge of the Fisherman’s Wharf district. Ride the carousel, marvel at the street performers and take advantage of some of the best people-watching—and sea lion-watching—anywhere in California.

Muir Woods National Monument: Take a break from city life when you escape to this refuge of towering redwood trees, spotted owls nesting and river otters swimming down Redwood Creek. There’s no cell phone service in Muir Woods, so feel free to leave your mobile device in San Francisco. Just don’t leave your heart.

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Tagged: California, Cheap City, USA, FREE!, Sports, Uncategorized

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Tailgating: The time-honored camaraderie of strangers who come together to cheer on their favorite team, and jeer at any opponents who had the audacity to show up on your home turf. Luckily, the hot dogs, burgers and overflowing team spirit necessary for such an event don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Follow these simple tailgating tips to have the best, cheapest tailgate this NFL season, without your wallet suffering from a severe case of deflategate.

Rule 1: The golden ticket

Saving should start before you even think about planning for the tailgate. Tickets to the big game itself are easily the biggest expense you’ll encounter on this journey. Fortunately, cheap tickets for good seats are easier to come by than you think, and with all that money you save you’ll have some extra cash to spend on the goods (beer).

Rule 2: Location, location, free parking lot

Do you really need to be right next to the stadium to have a fun tailgate? Skip the expensive parking fees and save on gas because you won’t have to wait in treacherous lines trying to escape the parking lot. Plus, you’ll often find some pretty spirited fans to party with in the free lots anyway.

Rule 3: Getting creative with merch

Yes, you have to look the part, but pro shops usually have some pretty pricey merchandise. The good news is: you have options that don’t require spending the lion’s share of your savings account. Head to your nearest thrift shop and create a snazzy ensemble repping your team’s colors. Or, better yet, dig around and see if you can find some vintage gear from tailgates past, and feel good about your own recycling chops.

Rule 4: BYOC (Bring your own chili)

Food is one of the most important components of a successful tailgate. In the spirit of competition, why not makeit a little challenge? Invite your friends to bring their best chili and garlic bread recipes—you’ll avoid fronting all the food costs yourself, and you’ll finally figure out which of your friends are good cooks (bonus points if you’re friends with a chef or two). And carbing up before the game will save you from dropping tons of money at the stadium’s concession stands.

Rule 5: BYOBB (Bring your own beverages in bulk)

No way around this one. Alcohol is expensive, so it’s easiest if everyone chips in. But of course, buying in bulk will help you save a couple of bucks, and hopefully it means one less overpriced beer you’ll have to buy at the stadium.

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Tagged: Cheap Tips, Food & drink, Sports, Tips & advice, Uncategorized

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Football season’s in full swing, and that means three things: beer, good food and tailgating. If you’re willing to go where the game takes you, here are the best NFL cities for enjoying all three without breaking the bank.

Tampa, Florida

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If you love fishing and football, Tampa may be the NFL town for you. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers—and their massive pirate ship, complete with animatronic parrot—play at Raymond James Stadium, tucked in right next to Al Lopez Park and its fishing ponds. Old Tampa and Hillsborough Bays are also close, offering dolphin cruises and watersports galore—all with a hefty dose of Florida’s famously free vitamin D, which makes for some pretty pleasant tailgating.

Denver, Colorado

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Ever heard of a little team called the Broncos? They hail from Denver’s Sports Authority Field at Mile High, where you can tailgate indoors at onsite bars like the Mile High Cross Bar and the 50 Yard Bar. Later, drop exactly zero dollars to take a brewery tour, explore the famous Red Rocks or pay tribute to your favorite locals at the Colorado Sports Hall of Fame. Walking in the 100-million-year-old footsteps of dinosaurs at Dinosaur Ridge is also a very free, very worth-it option.

Indianapolis, Indiana

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The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Monument Circle, the Dallara IndyCar Factory…all these attractions are great, but this town’s main draw is, and will always be, the Colts. But since you’ll need to do something after the game anyway, you can take a totally free stroll along Lockerbie Square’s historic cobblestone streets or browse the clever insights and turns of phrase found in the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library.

Baltimore, Maryland

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The city that brought us Billie Holiday, John Waters and the Star Spangled Banner is also home to the Ravens. Their M&T Bank Stadium is just a stone’s throw from one of Charm City’s darkest attractions—the house where Edgar Allen Poe grew up. Baltimore also offers heaps of free things to do, including the beautiful Basilica and the Baltimore Museum of Art. Once most businesses have closed up shop for the night, head to the historic Fell’s Point or Canton districts for some live music.

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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Pittsburgh nails the trifecta of American pastimes: gambling, sausage, and, of course, football. After working up an appetite by watching the Steelers dominate at the deliciously named Heinz Field, you can enjoy some cheap, German eats at Deutschtown or check out the Andy Warhol Museum and ToonSeum, dedicated to the art of cartoons. Best of all, the Rivers Casino is a few blocks from the stadium.

Cleveland, Ohio

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 You can pick up your Cleveland Browns jerseys and hoodies at the FirstEnergy Stadium pro shop before the game, and show your love to the locals afterwards while digging into some cheap, satisfying eats and beer at the many bars and restaurants around the stadium. Once you’ve had your fill, hit up the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame museum or the always-free Cleveland Museum of Art to see works by Goya and Mondrian.

Green Bay, Wisconsin      

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It doesn’t get more iconic than the Green Bay Packers, and their eponymous city dishes out as much competitive spirit as it does good, cheap fun. Scarf down some pork-belly tacos and venison sloppy joes at Lambeau Field’s onsite eatery before checking out the Packers Hall of Fame. Or head to New Zoo for some inexpensive thrills—here, you can feed friendly giraffes and play on an aerial adventure course.

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Tagged: City, Florida, Sports