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The Super Bowl halftime show has continually been one of the most-watched events on television in recent memory. However, what is now always a spectacle is often controversial and has not always been full of superstars.
Until the 1990s, fans weren’t spoiled by chart-topping artists performing their biggest hits in succession during halftime of the NFL season finale.
The first halftime show in 1967 featured the Arizona and Grambling State marching bands. That was considered normal before shows evolved from local college marching bands to tribute acts, light shows and, finally, mainstream performers.
The halftime stage eventually became a highly coveted jukebox that also served as a mixer for super collaborations as millions of viewers tuned in to the performances.
With the magnitude of the halftime show and the acts that adorn it, those 12 to 15 minutes have been a window for controversy and scandal on several occasions.
From onstage mishaps to pre- and post-show tensions between fans and stars involved over social issues… DailyMail.com takes a look at five of the most scandalous Super Bowl halftime shows.
Janet Jackson’s infamous ‘wardrobe malfunction’ inspired the creation of YouTube in 2005
The Jackson incident led Congress to pass a bill increasing fines for “indecency” on television.
Perhaps the most controversial halftime show to date took place in 2004 with the infamous ‘Nipplegate’. The show starred Janet Jackson, Kid Rock, P. Diddy, Nelly and Justin Timberlake in Houston.
At the end of the performance, Jackson and Timberlake delivered a passionate performance of Timberlake’s 2003 hit, ‘Rock Your Body,’ taking the lyrics quite literally.
When the last line of the song, which reads, “You better be naked at the end of this song,” fell before the final note, Timberlake accidentally ripped a chest plate off of Jackson’s costume. As a result, his chest was partially exposed to the air for the world to see.
This led the head of the Federal Communications Commission, Michael Powel, to criticize the event. Powell exclaimed that “a celebration was tainted by a classless, rude and deplorable stunt.”
While some details behind the incident are unknown, the FCC investigation later found itself with Congress passing a bill to increase fines for “indecency” on television.
On the other hand, the astonishing scandal inspired the invention of YouTube shortly after. According to co-founder Jawed Karim, YouTube arose from the difficulty of finding clips of “wardrobe malfunctions.”
Jackson’s career subsequently took a nosedive over the incident, while Timberlake managed to avoid the same fate.
MIA’s $16 Million Bird, 2012
NFL sues rapper MIA for $16.6 million for turning off camera during halftime show
MIA and Nicki Minaj appeared as guests at the halftime show headlined by Madonna
While rapper MIA wasn’t the main star of this halftime show, she certainly did some damage with her guest appearance.
Perhaps he got carried away sharing the stage with pop legends Madonna and Nicki Minaj. While performing her hit ‘Give Me All Your Luvin’, MIA turned off the camera at the end of her verse.
The set, which also featured LMFAO and Cee Lo Green, was excellent outside of the possibly inappropriate gesture made on national television.
The NFL sued the rapper for $16.6 million and ultimately settled for an undisclosed amount. Surprisingly, the FCC did not fine MIA for the incident.
MIA asked Madonna for help on social media after news of the lawsuit became public.
‘@madonna ummm….can I borrow 16 million?’ she tweeted.
Not-so-live performance by Red Hot Chili Peppers, 2014
The Red Hot Chili Peppers imitated their song ‘Give It Away’ at the Super Bowl XLVIII halftime show
The Red Hot Chili Peppers brought a different kind of energy atop Bruno Mars’ setlist in 2014. However, fans quickly noticed how the California legends’ instruments were out of touch and began raising questions.
While the performers are expected to give a strong performance when they are called to do the halftime show, the band came under fire for allegedly lip-syncing their hit ‘Give It Away’ on stage.
Bassist Flea later published an open letter confirming that they imitated part of the performance, per the NFL’s request. Although they wanted to give a real performance, the league apparently tied its hands and opted for perfection.
“It was made clear to us that the vocals would be live, but the bass, drums and guitar would be pre-recorded,” Flea wrote. ‘There was nowhere to argue about this.
‘We take our music seriously, it is something sacred to us, and anyone who has seen us in concert knows that we play from the heart, improvise spontaneously, take musical risks and sweat blood in every show. We have been traveling doing it for 31 years.”
The band soon confronted the music and admitted that they chose to leave the instruments unplugged to make the circumstances clear to the audience.
Police groups tried to boycott Beyoncé’s world tour after her performance at Super Bowl 50
Beyonce had fans divided with her appearance during the Super Bowl 50 halftime show. Headlined by Coldplay, Bruno Mars and Beyonce came as guests with their respective hits ‘Uptown Funk’ and ‘Formation’ near the end of the set.
During their portion of the performance, the pop star’s dancers were dressed in Black Panther-style costumes, sparking arguments given the group’s unpleasant history with law enforcement.
Additionally, Beyoncé was singled out for incorporating race into her art form. The music video for ‘Formation’ shows an African-American boy dancing in front of police officers while the words ‘Stop Shooting Us’ appear in graffiti on a wall.
Shortly after the performance, Tampa Police Benevolent Association President Vincent Gericitano issued a statement saying his group’s officers were “disgusted” with the halftime show and music video.
The Police Union also called on law enforcement to boycott Beyoncé’s ‘Formation World Tour’ in 2016-2017.
Beyoncé performed her hit ‘Formation’ with her dancers wearing Black Panther-inspired outfits
Maroon 5 performs amid Kaepernick controversy, 2019
Maroon 5 Was Snubbed By Several Performers Of Color For Their Super Bowl LIII Halftime Show
After Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem to protest the oppression of African Americans in the United States in 2016, many athletes followed his example. This soon resulted in the former 49ers quarterback finding himself without a team.
For 2018, the NFL established a new rule that would fine players for not standing during the national anthem, sparking outrage among fans and community members.
So when the league tried to book Rihanna for the halftime show, she turned it down, citing her support for Kaepernick as the reason. After contract negotiations with P!nk failed, the NFL hired Maroon 5 to perform at the season finale.
In 2018, the NFL began fining players for not standing during the national anthem.
The pop rock band faced backlash for accepting the league’s offer amid calls for a boycott. In the wake of the controversy, Maroon 5 were reportedly desperate for an artist of color to join them for their performance.
The show took place when Maroon 5’s hit ‘Girls Like You’, featuring Cardi B, was not far from dominating the airwaves. However, like Rihanna, the rapper had no interest in participating in solidarity with Kaepernick.
Variety reported that the band reached out to the likes of Andre 3000, Mary J. Blige, Usher, Lauryn Hill and Nicki Minaj. However, each rejected the opportunity.
Maroon 5 finally got rappers Big Boi and Travis Scott to collaborate with them for the halftime show. While Big Boi managed to avoid heavy criticism, Scott confronted him ten times after Jay-Z reportedly tried to talk him out of taking the job.