Was Michael Jackson’s Super Bowl halftime performance in 1993 one of the all-time greats?
That seems to be the consensus among television viewers, music fans, and journalists who witnessed the King of Pop’s 1993 halftime show during Super Bowl XXVII. Michael Jackson’s uncanny star power during the 1993 game between the Buffalo Bills and the Dallas Cowboys signaled a new entertainment era of televised halftime shows.
Do you remember Michael Jackson’s historic Super Bowl performance? It was perhaps his greatest — and most widely viewed — entertainment feat prior to his untimely death in 2009. Before he died, Michael Jackson was preparing yet another live music spectacle: a London concert series called This Is It. Sadly, the full concert residency never came to fruition, but its rehearsals and select performances were preserved in a documentary-concert film (Michael Jackson’s This Is It, 2009). Read on to reminisce about Michael’s fondly-remembered Super Bowl show.
The Michael Jackson Super Bowl halftime show in 1993 was recently ranked by The Detroit News as their fifth favorite Super Bowl show, coming in behind more modern halftime performances from similar superstars like Prince (2007), U2 (2002), Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band (2009), and Beyonce (2009). The paper recognized Michael’s importance in igniting the contemporary tradition of stellar Super Bowl music extravaganzas.
“The King of Pop ushered in the new era of the halftime show with this performance, turning it into a must-see event for the first time.”
Michael Jackson’s initial reveal during the historic performance is one of the oft-remembered entertainment aspects of the set. As recalled by the Detroit, Michigan, news source, Michael started his halftime set by first “appearing” at the top of the stadium (it was a body double, of course). Jackson then rocketed from center stage and stood completely still and silent for almost two minutes before beginning his performance.
“What makes it even more stunning is that Jackson stands silent for nearly 2 minutes, while letting the crowd roar for him. He doesn’t utter a word until nearly 3 minutes into his 12-minute show. Yet he still manages to offer a plea for racial harmony and worldwide unity in the name of children.”
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Over at SB Nation, the sports news site concurs with Michael Jackson’s origination of the modern superstar halftime show era. Prior to Jackson’s 1993 performance, the gig was usually reserved for marching bands or novelty performers. Michael Jackson changed everything with his appearance at the 1993 NFL championship.
“Michael Jackson’s star touched down on Super Bowl XXVII, where the King of Pop would set the standard for all halftime appearances going forward. Jackson used body doubles to teleport his way across the [stadium] in a spectacle unlike any the big game had ever seen before.”
On the occasion of his 1993 halftime appearance, Michael’s latest studio album was 1991’s Dangerous, his eighth full-length recording and first since 1987’s blockbuster Bad release. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Jackson’s Super Bowl set leaned heavily on a cluster of that album’s singles: “Black or White,” “Jam,” and “Heal the World.” (Dangerous‘ sixth single overall, “Give In to Me,” was issued mere weeks after the Super Bowl, on February 15, 1993.)
Not to leave longtime MJ fans high and dry, Jackson did tinge the Super Bowl halftime gig with one throwback composition, the 1983 No. 1 hit “Billie Jean,” as excerpted from his 1982 sixth album, Thriller — an LP often cited as the world’s best-selling album ever. Rounding out Michael’s unquestionably fierce Super Bowl set was the 1984 United Support of Artists for Africa charity single, “We Are the World.”
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Michael Jackson Super Bowl XXVII halftime show set list:
- “Jam” (medley with “Why You Wanna Trip on Me” intro)
- “Billie Jean”
- “Black or White”
- “We Are the World” (USA for Africa single)
- “Heal the World”
Check out Michael Jackson’s Super Bowl halftime show on YouTube.
Where do you rank Michael’s 1993 Super Bowl performance? Do you consider the King of Pop’s historic halftime show to be one of the greatest of all time? Let us know your thoughts on Michael Jackson and his Super Bowl halftime concert in the comments section below.
[Featured Image by George Rose/Getty Images]