LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - There is a strong chance of a neon-colored spectacle, perhaps some flying and definitely songs of female empowerment when pop singer Katy Perry takes the stage during halftime at the Super Bowl, the most-watched 12 minutes on U.S. television.
The pink-loving Perry may seem a mismatch for the macho world of NFL football. But the “Firework” singer’s performance this Sunday could prove to be the girl power moment America’s most popular sport needs - - both to draw in younger fans and to rebuild its image among women after a spate of domestic violence cases.
“Katy Perry is an artist who appeals to a very wide fan base as well as a lot of kids,” said Jason Lipshutz, an associate editor at trade magazine Billboard. “Obviously, the NFL wants to bring in that younger demographic with their splashy halftime show.”
Women fans are a key growth area for the NFL, which came under harsh criticism for its uneven response to former Baltimore Ravens star Ray Rice’s assault on his now wife Janay Palmer.
Perry’s selection to headline what the music industry considers its most prized gig extends the NFL’s trend of selecting artists who appeal to the younger viewers advertisers value most.
Bruno Mars’ show last year attracted a record 115.3 million viewers, slightly more than the game itself, a sign that the NFL’s bet on younger artists rather than the baby boomer favorites like Paul McCartney in 2005 and Bruce Springsteen in 2009 has paid off.
Perry, 30, catapulted to fame in 2008 with chart-toppers “I Kissed a Girl” and “Hot n Cold” and has consistently strung together hits of uplifting girl power anthems like “Roar” and “Part of Me.”
“I feel like I’ve outdreamt my dream,” the singer told ESPN the Magazine last week. Rocker Lenny Kravitz will perform as a guest during the midpoint of the championship between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks.
Perry, who commands Twitter’s largest audience with 63.8 million followers, has publicly insisted she did not pay to play the show after the NFL reportedly asked its short list of possible performers to contribute financially.
The singer’s appeal to adolescents presumably would also steer her clear of pushing the decency envelope like Janet Jackson’s nipple-baring “wardrobe malfunction” in 2004 and rapper M.I.A.’s extended middle finger in 2012.
“She’s not an edgy artist and parents can feel comfortable bringing little kids to her arena show,” Lipshutz said.
That was echoed by Lindsay Powers, the editorial director of Yahoo! Parenting, “She’s someone that can be a role model to these kids.”
“You can crank it up in the car, and parents don’t have to be embarrassed,” Powers added.
The megawatt gig also bodes well financially for Perry, who will wrap up a European tour supporting her 2013 album “Prism” after the Super Bowl. Music sales for Beyonce and Mars more than doubled following their appearances in the past two years.
Editing by Mary Milliken/Gene Cherry