Katy Perry is the Super Bowl halftime show performer for 2015 as the NFL trends back toward younger pop stars after years of playing it safe with older rock artists. But is it a good move for her? She’ll see widespread television exposure for her more recent songs like Roar and Dark Horse, which could tack on some additional sales to her already popular album Prism. But a glance at recent halftime performers suggests that doing the Super Bowl may not be as much of a career boost as it sounds.
Let’s start by eliminating the outlier, the infamous “wardrobe malfunction” performance by Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake which sent the NFL scrambling to book safer acts to begin with. Sure, Jackson was more or less never heard from again, and Timberlake had to lay low for awhile before people finally stopped connecting him with the incident. But let’s say the two brought the negative outcome on themselves with their staged antics. What about the subsequent performers? Have any of them come out on top of the experience? And can Katy Perry expect better results?
First, Katy Perry has shown during her six years in the spotlight that she’s too calculated to make a desperate move like the wardrobe malefaction. Her performance may push boundaries, but it’s nothing that’ll have the network reaching for the censor button. So the most obvious comparison is to last year’s performer, Bruno Mars. His star is still on the rise. But did show actually serve to move the needle on his career? If anything it’s more remembered for the fact that the Red Hot Chili Peppers, whom he invited to join him for a song, were forced by league officials to fake-play their instruments and thus purposely left them visibly unplugged in protest.
Other recent Super Bowl performers have seemed to come up duds. The Black Eyed Peas were at the height of their popularity when they signed on, but they made the mistake of rushing out another album to try to take advantage of the timing. The performance was panned, the subpar new album didn’t sell nearly as well as the previous one, and they’ve been on a downward slide ever since. Prior to that, The Who were panned for their Super Bowl halftime performance by those who wanted a younger and hipper artist instead. The Rolling Stones fared better, but it’s not clear that they benefited from the exposure. Aerosmith tried to fill its performance with a smattering of younger pop stars, to a mixture of applause and guffaws. And now the league shifts back to younger Super Bowl performers outright.
The fact that famous artists continue to sign on for the Super Bowl halftime show, and that their industry-proven managers and record labels have backed such decisions, suggests that there is in fact ancillary value in making such an appearance. But with Katy Perry’s popularity being at an all time high, is she rolling the dice by taking a gig which will be panned by some simply because Super Bowl halftime audiences tend to be un-pleaseable? She, as well as music and sports fans alike, are about to find out.