If you go by the Nielsen ratings (which measures households), 19 of the 30 highest-rated programs in United States history are Super Bowls. If you look at average viewership, then the big game accounts for 28 of the top 30.
Either way you slice it, the Super Bowl is a proven ratings draw that provides a massive stage for players, performers and ad buyers.
As such, it’s no wonder that the Super Bowl halftime performance slot has become a highly sought-after gig for many musical acts.
When done right, the show can transcend the game and become an indelible part of the zeitgeist. In 2002, for instance, U2 gave a moving performance memorializing the people who lost their lives in the September 11 attacks and helped provide a moment of healing for a nation still in mourning. Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Madonna and Beyoncé reaffirmed their status as superstars while younger contemporaries like Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Bruno Mars made a case for themselves to join their ranks.
When done wrong, however, the show can kill off an artist’s career. After all, it’s one thing to have a bad night, but to do so with the whole world watching?(more…)