Last year, 114 million people tuned in to see Madonna and friends storm the Super Bowl halftime show, which ended up being the most-watched halftime show of all time. This Sunday, Beyonce will helm what may be the country's biggest party of the year, where she may or may not be joined by her Destiny's Child bandmates Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams.
Not every Super Bowl was a celebrity affair. The first took place in 1967 and early Super Bowls featured college marching bands from the University of Arizona, Grambling State, Florida A&M and others. And though Up With People helmed production for a few of the early games, it wasn't until Super Bowl VI that a megastar performed. At that 1972 celebration, Ella Fitzgerald graced the stage.
From there on, big names were an on-again, off-again fixture of the Super Bowl. Early performers include Andy Williams, actors and the ever-present Up With People. Throughout the '80s, even, it was not uncommon for halftime shows to prominently feature audience card stunts or dance troupes.
The flashiness of the '90s demanded a splashier performance. New Kids on the Block were joined by Disney characters and a couple thousand children in 1991, followed in subsequent years by Gloria Estefan, Michael Jackson, Clint Black and The Judds, Patti Labelle and Tony Bennett (with Indiana Jones, no less), Diana Ross and James Brown.
By 1998, ensemble shows including the likes of Boyz II Men, Smokey Robinson, The Temptations, Queen Latifah and Martha Reeves had grown in popularity (the following year, Estefan returned to perform with Chaka Khan and Stevie Wonder, among others). This trend continued through the mid '00s, when superstars like Paul McCartney, the Rolling Stones and Prince headlined their own acts.
Take a look through the gallery below and let us know who surprised you in the comments.
ALSO ON HUFFPOST:
Stay plugged in with the stories on black life and culture that matter. Learn more