|Date||January 31, 1993|
|Producer||Radio City, Scott Sanders, Don Mischer Productions|
The Super Bowl XXVII halftime show took place on January 31, 1993, at the Rose Bowl, Pasadena, California, as part of Super Bowl XXVII. It featured American singer Michael Jackson. The halftime show was broadcast on NBC. This halftime performance increased the television ratings by a significant amount, and remains one of the most watched events in American television history with 133.4 million viewers.
Jackson's performance received worldwide critical acclaim, and has since been considered by many as among the greatest Super Bowl halftime shows of all time. Jackson’s appearance also started the NFL's trend of signing top acts to appear during the Super Bowl to attract more viewers and interest.
After Super Bowl XXVI, where a special episode of In Living Color, broadcast by future NFL broadcaster Fox during the game's halftime period successfully attracted viewers away from the Super Bowl telecast on CBS (with viewership falling by 22% over halftime), the NFL began the process of heightening the profile of the halftime show in an effort to attract mainstream viewers. Radio City Productions, who would produce the halftime show, attempted to court Michael Jackson to serve as the headline act by meeting with him and his manager Sandy Gallin. After three failed negotiations, including asking the NFL for a fee of $1 million, Jackson's management agreed to allow him to perform at Super Bowl XXVII.
Although the league does not pay appearance fees for Super Bowl halftime performers, the NFL and Frito-Lay agreed to donate $100,000 to the Heal the World Foundation—a charity that was founded by Jackson—as well as allocate commercial time to air an appeal for the foundation's Heal L.A. campaign, which aimed to provide health care, drug education, and mentorship for Los Angeles youth, particularly children affected by the aftermath of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Nine days later, Jackson would conduct a television interview with Oprah Winfrey, which garnered the highest ratings for a television interview in history.
The performance began with a James Earl Jones' voice introducing an, "unprecedented Super Bowl spectacular starring Michael Jackson". Michael Jackson then seemed to appear at the top of the stadium's two jumbotrons (using body doubles). Michael then catapults from center stage and stood completely frozen and silent for almost two minutes before his long-time guitarist Jennifer Batten began the performance. Jackson's performance included a medley consisting of "Jam" (with the beginning of "Why You Wanna Trip On Me"), "Billie Jean" and "Black or White" (includes beginning of "Another Part of Me") including the ending of Batten's guitar solo. The finale featured an audience card stunt, a video montage showing Jackson participating in various humanitarian efforts around the world, and a choir of over 3,000 local Los Angeles area children singing "We Are the World", later joining Jackson as he sang his single "Heal the World" with an inflatable globe. The globe resembled the single's cover art.
More than 250 volunteers were required in order to erect and disassemble the show's 10-ton stage. The stage was on all-terrain tires in order to limit damage to the playing surface.
The halftime show was a major success, marking the first time in Super Bowl history that ratings increased between halves during the game. This performance helped Jackson's latest album Dangerous rise 90 places in the album chart. Dangerous saw a 83% increase in sales, moving 21,000 copies in the United States in the week following the Super Bowl.
The Associated Press described the show as, "flashy".
Jackson's halftime performance has regularly been retrospectively ranked among the best halftime performances of all-time.
In his Thrillist-published ranking of halftime show's (which as of its 2022 update, ranks Jackson's performance as the third-greatest halftime show up through that year's) opined,
“The King of Pop was the only interesting part of this blowout Super Bowl, and as mentioned earlier, helped turn the halftime show into the Holy Grail gig it is today. He made the halftime show America's preeminent platform for reaching the masses, and his natural sense of spectacle was perfect for American football, as exemplified by his insane leap up from a trapdoor in the stage. That long stare, the aviators, the moonwalk—it's easy to forget now why the king was king, but this...should remind you.”
In his Rolling Stone ranking of Super Bowl halftime shows, Rob Sheffield (in which he ranked Jackson's halftime show the 14th-best halftime show up through 2022) dubbed the performance to the last great television performance of Jackson's lifetime.
In a 2018 ranking of Super Bowl halftime shows published by CBS Sports, Nate Peterson ranked Jackson's performance the 4th-best halftime show up through 2017, calling it, "the standard upon which all Super Bowl halftime shows are judged from here to eternity". Considering the "Heal the World" segment, Peterson opined that its card trick was, "the coolest Super Bowl prop ever conceived," but also conceded that the involvement of children in this segment to be retrospectively "a little creepy" in light of child sexual abuse accusations that were levied against Jackson only weeks after the performance.
In a 2022 article, Brian Moylan of Vulture, ranking the performance the tenth-best Super Bowl halftime show up through that year's, credited Jackson's show with turning Super Bowl halftime shows into "must-watch television". However, Moylan also opined,
"Just because you’re the first doesn’t mean you do it best. For starters, the networks hadn’t quite figured out how to broadcast a halftime show yet. It’s hard to hear the music over all of the cheering (which lasted a full three minutes before a note was even played), there was a commercial break in the middle of the program, and the game was in California, so it wasn’t quite dark out. Also, the production is painfully sincere in that way Michael Jackson loved: Instead of reaching into his packed back catalogue, he performed “We Are the World” with a children’s choir, then did “Heal the World” while an enormous globe inflated in the middle of the stage. Sure, he also did “Billie Jean” and moonwalked, but for a consummate showman, Michael Jackson could have done more."
In compiling her 2020 retrospective ranking of Super Bowl halftime show's, Liz Acker of The Oregonian opted not to consider Jackson's performance in her halftime show, opining that she found it difficult for modern audiences to "continue to celebrate his music in any capacity" in light of the sexual misconduct allegations covered in the 2019 documentary Leaving Neverland.
The following songs were performed during the halftime show:
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