Bruno Mars is set to join the Red Hot Chili Peppers at Sunday’s Super Bowl halftime show, but center stage wasn’t always so youthful. Since Janet Jackson’s infamous “wardrobe malfunction,” the show took a geriatric turn for a few years over the last decade before it slowly moved back to the younger set.
A decade has passed since Janet Jackson sparked controversy when her nipple surfaced on national television during Superbowl XXXVIII. Jackson, then 37, performed with then-23-year-old Justin Timberlake, singing Timberlake’s 2002 song, “Rock Your Body.”
The next year, rock superstar Paul McCartney brought viewers into a Beatles time warp of sorts at the 2005 Super Bowl halftime show, when he rocked out on songs first released in the 1960s. His performance marked a geriatric turn for the artists taking over the Super Bowl field between the game’s first and second halves.
The Rolling Stones continued the Super Bowl’s classic rock fix in 2006, opening the show with a rendition of “Start Me Up,” which was first released in 1981. Lead singer Mick Jagger, then 62, ran around on stage with vigor unmatched by many his age.
After two solid classic rock performances, Prince took the stage in 2007, and kept the decades-old tunes coming. Prince, then 47, lit up the field with a performance of “Purple Rain,” which was released in 1984.
Tom Petty, the lead of a group that originally formed in 1976, took the stage at 2008′s Super Bowl XLI. He rocked out to songs by his group, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and solo tracks by Petty that spanned from the mid-70s to the late 80s. Petty was 58 at the time and, with his act, harkened back to the golden age of rock and roll—perhaps targeting an older swath of viewers.
Keeping an older audience engaged—and winning over a new generation of fans—Bruce Springsteen and his E Street Band appeared in Tampa during the Super Bowl’s halftime in 2009. Springsteen, 59 at the time, sang three older hits, “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” (1976), “Born to Run” (1975) and “Glory Days” (1984), but set the Super Bowl halftime show on course toward the present day with “Working on a Dream,” released just days before the 2009 Super Bowl.
Rock legends The Who represented the last of the great classic rock Super Bowl halftime performers. The band played a slew of hits from the 1960s and 70s during their show at Super Bowl XLIV in Miami Gardens, Fla.
Fast forwarding to the present, the Super Bowl halftime show in 2011 brought in The Black Eyed Peas and Usher, artists significantly younger and quite popular with younger football fans. Usher and The Black Eyed Peas founding member will.i.am were both in their 30s at the time.
Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Cee Lo Green and others solidified the halftime show’s return to the mainstream, when they led a lively show at 2012′s Super Bowl XLVI, in Indianapolis.
Beyoncé, then 31, kept her set list new and fresh during the Super Bowl in 2013, performing a series of songs that focused on the theme of female empowerment: “Run the World (Girls)” (2011), “Independent Women Part I” (2000) and “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” (2008). Destiny’s Child reunited for the show.
Bruno Mars, 28, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, first formed in 1983, will both take the stage in East Rutherford, N.J., on Sunday for Super Bowl XLVIII, marrying the old with the new and completing the Super Bowl halftime show’s decade-long artistic journey through time.