The Super Bowl is one of the rare sporting events where intermissions matter as much as the game itself.
At the centre of it is the halftime show, essentially a mini-concert that features the hottest artists of the day performing their latest hits in a packed stadium to millions of television viewers.
All eyes will be on Beyonce as she takes centre stage in Louisiana next Sunday, 3 February. The star singer is expected to sing alongside husband Jay-Z and take part in a reunion performance with her former musical group Destiny’s Child. The performance will take place at the Mercedez-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, site of Super Bowl XLVII.
Beyonce’s performance figures to be one of the most-watched events in American television, as halftime shows annually attract over 100 million viewers in the US alone.
The Houston native will be eager to outdo Madonna’s showing last year. In 2012, Super Bowl XLVI’s halftime show was the most-watched in history, with 114 million viewers, about 3 million more than the actual game.
Then again, Beyonce is the latest in a long list of celebrities to grace the Super Bowl since 1967. From Gloria Estefan (at Super Bowl XXVI in 1992) to The Black Eyed Peas (at Super Bowl XLV in 2011), the Big Game is synonymous with popular recording artists.
Interestingly, the Super Bowl halftime show featured mostly college marching bands in the early days. It wasn’t until about 25 years in did musical acts like Michael Jackson and Prince appear on the scene. The NFL does not pay the halftime show performers an appearance fee, though it covers all of their expenses and that of their entourage.
For Beyonce, the driving force is the Super Bowl’s exposure, which often leads to significant spikes in weekly album sales and paid digital downloads for performers. Those facts figure to spark interest in her fifth studio album later this year and her songs on the Destiny’s Child album called Love Songs, which gets released on 29 January.
Of course, Super Bowl performances are not without controversy. The most famous and powerful incident was at Super Bowl XXXVIII in 2004, where Justin Timberlake accidentally exposed Janet Jackson’s breast. As a result, ABC and the NFL imposed a five-second delay and censored lyrics considered too sexually explicit. For Super Bowl XL in 2006, the Detroit community expressed its displeasure at the selection of The Rolling Stones, a band that did not represent the traditional Detroit ‘Motown Sound.’