For its first couple decades of existence, the Super Bowl halftime show featured marching bands or “Up With People”-type musical medleys. Unfortunately, but the only folks who really got excited about those performances were the families of the performers.

Over the last 20 years, the Super Bowl halftime stage has become home to top hits and the increased star powers of popular musical acts.

We’ve compiled a list of the five most memorable of these legendary Super Bowl halftime shows, which should be the ones the Black Eyed Peas try to match when they take the field this weekend at Cowboy Stadium.

5. Michael Jackson, Super Bowl XXVII in Pasadena
Michael Jackson’s performance at Super Bowl 27 had all the pyrotechnics, posing and out-of-this-world dance moves folks had come to expect from the King of Pop. In fact, more people tuned in to see Jackson sing than watched the game itself, a 52-17 Dallas Cowboy’s victory over the Buffalo Bills.

4, Rolling Stones, Super Bowl XL in Detroit
Over the last five years, the Super Bowl halftime show has played host to big-time classic rock acts like Bruce Springsteen, The Who and Tom Petty. But it was the Rolling Stones -- and a nimble-as-ever Mick Jagger -- who, in 2006, successfully defended their long-running title as “Greatest Rock and Roll Band In The World.”

3. U2, Super Bowl XXXVI in San Diego
With the nation still reeling from 9/11, the Super Bowl called on U2 to perform the halftime honors during 2002’s Super Bowl. The rock veterans’ soaring ballads turned out to be perfect way to pay musical tribute to the nearly 3,000 who lost their lives in the terrorist attack.

2. Prince, Super Bowl XL in San Diego
It gets lost sometimes, in all the purple-ness and name confusion, but Prince can flat out rock. His epic performance at Super Bowl 41 included his big hits, and a few unexpected cover songs.

1. Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson, Super Bowl XXXVII in Houston
This performance is most memorable, of course, for what you could have missed if you weren’t paying close attention. The ensuing controversy over Janet Jackson’s exposed nipple led to new FCC television regulations, and added the fantastic phrases “wardrobe malfunction” and “nipplegate” to the lexicon.

- Contributed by Jeremy Taylor

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