It's fair to say the quality of the show can be a tad uneven from year to year. The good news is that even the worst offer up a particular kind of spectacle that needs be seen. To honor those efforts, let's take a walkthrough of the worst the Super Bowl halftime has had to offer. Then vote for your "favorite" in our poll below.
Super Bowl XXVl: New Kids on the Block, Warren Moon
Back in 1991, the U.S. was at war. Super Bowl planners were right to honor the troops and their kids. In retrospect, they probably should have honored them with an act other than New Kids on the Block.
The Boston boy band took the stage after the public humiliation of future (1:09) hall-of-fame quarterback Warren Moon, whose frolic with a flirtatious Minnie Mouse would be as close as he made it to the big game, tragically. For their part, NKOTB (appearing at 6:07) are about as bad as you'd expect, delivering some witless songs, out-of-time lip-synching and dancing that hurts the eye, not to mention an awkward moment where kids sit on the Kids' laps as they croon "This One's For the Children." Away, kids! Away! The only upside is that due to a war news interruption the halftime show wasn't aired until after the game, perhaps sparing some viewers.
Super Bowl XXIX: Patti LaBelle and Tony Bennett
In 1995, news of a new Disney ride was a big deal. So a Super Bowl played on the eve of the launch of the attraction, known as Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Forbidden Eye, was a golden opportunity for some crazy-making. The centerpiece was Patti LaBelle and Tony Bennett teaming up -- at last! -- and doing a medley over fantabulous dancing and Indiana Jones-style playacting. Indy parachutes in and snags the Vince Lombardi trophy from some evil "native"; then there's a lot of aimless running around. The finale -- a soaring rendition of "Can You Feel the Love Tonight?" -- is sure to bring down the house, and by "house" I mean your desire to ever listen to music again.
Super Bowl XVI: Up With People
There is such a thing as Up With People, self-described as a " global education organization which aims to bring the world together through service and music." Because, you know, who could be against people? In the 1970s and 80s, Up with People performed in no fewer than four Super Bowls, singing and grooving to all the hits and surely delighting sponsors with their clean-cut, upbeat energy. It later came to light in a documentary that UWP already had some corporate funding from the likes of Halliburton, Exxon, and other corporations that wanted to counter the counterculture of the day. Here they are in 1982.
Super Bowl XLV: Black Eyed Peas, Usher
"Tron" is a movie about a video game that sucks people into it. Black Eyes Peas is a musical act that sucks. Why not throw them together for some auto-tuned future shlock? Lowlights include Fergie's Slash-aided waterboarding of the great "Sweet Child O' Mine," the auto-tuned trashing of "(I've Had) The Time of My Life," and the "I Got a Feeling" reprise because we really needed to hear that twice. Not even an appearance by Usher can save this mess and that's saying something.