music reporter

Halftime highlights give Super Bowl players a kick

Think of the most memorable Super Bowl halftime shows you've seen: U2's profound post-Sept. 11 performance certainly ranks up there, as does Prince's how-did-he-not-electrocute-himself? staging of "Purple Rain" in a downpour last year. And, though remarkable for different reasons than the performance per se, the Janet Jackson-Justin Timberlake peep show in 2004 certainly makes the top five.

This year's halftime show will be performed by Tom Petty, and despite increased competition for halftime viewers on other channels — Lingerie Bowl on pay-per-view, anyone? The squeal-inducing, cute-to-the-max Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet? — the Super Bowl still is pretty much the biggest TV audience a performer can get. Album sales figures from the week after the past few Super Bowls show that it's pretty much inevitable that artists will see a substantial sales increase after their halftime pyrotechnics. For instance, after last year's show, "The Very Best of Prince" moved from No. 31 to No. 2 on Billboard's catalog albums chart, and "Purple Rain" re-entered at No. 13.

After the Rolling Stones performed in 2006, sales of "A Bigger Bang" were up 34% compared with the previous week, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and sales of the hits package "Forty Licks" leapt 73%. When Paul McCartney played in 2005, sales of his 1987 compilation "All the Best" jumped 246%, and the Beatles' "1," "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," "Abbey Road" and "White Album" all saw double-digit gains.

Even despite the kerfuffle raised by the Jackson-Timberlake incident, they both reaped sales rewards, with Jackson's "All for You" up 159% and her "Design of a Decade 1986/1996" and Timberlake's "Justified" seeing double-digit gains.

That being said, the halftime show isn't the only place where musicians get exposure during the Super Bowl. This year, artists are thronging to Arizona, including the Fox-ordained "American Idol" tie-ins of Jordin Sparks singing the national anthem and Paula Abdul performing her track "Dance Like There's No Tomorrow" during the pregame show. Abdul's song is on fellow judge Randy Jackson's compilation album "Randy Jackson's Music Club Vol. 1," which drops March 11. (Simon Cowell probably will pop up somewhere at the Super Bowl, too, perhaps complaining about why the game isn't soccer and why Americans use yards instead of meters.)

I'll be live-blogging the halftime show at Billboard.com, and yes, I'm torn between wanting another wardrobe malfunction for the tizzy it will cause and seriously not wanting another wardrobe malfunction. No offense, Mr. Petty.
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