MU­SIC

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Front Page - bboyd@irish­times.com

If mu­sic be the food of love, you’ll need to check out Miss Panti’s cup­cakes,

SOME 111 MIL­LION TV view­ers watched last Sun­day night’s Su­per Bowl, but 114 mil­lion TV view­ers watched Madonna’s half-time per­for­mance. In a way, those fig­ures are ridicu­lous – the cheer­lead­ing/ march­ing band com­po­nent of a ma­jor sport­ing event shouldn’t eclipse the event it­self.

The fig­ure was all the more sur­pris­ing as most peo­ple be­lieved Madonna to be a bad fit for the pres­ti­gious half-time slot be­cause her fan base has no real over­lap with a foot­ball-watch­ing au­di­ence. How­ever, to put her viewing fig­ures in per­spec­tive, Bruce Spring­steen only man­aged to get 95 mil­lion view­ers for his Su­per Bowl ap­pear­ance a few years ago.

Half-time in other big sport­ing events usu­ally of­fer an op­por­tu­nity to get away from the TV. Yet here we have a woman – just off the back of a wretched film and des­per­ately try­ing to drum up pub­lic­ity for an up­com­ing al­bum – who suc­ceeded in grow­ing the viewing fig­ures.

What hap­pened last Sun­day night (and we haven’t even dis­cussed the many mu­sic-re­lated ads shown dur­ing the many com­mer­cial breaks) has got the in­dus­try por­ing over the ram­i­fi­ca­tions and con­se­quences. The end re­sult will be that mu­sic will now find it eas­ier to get synched with what­ever big TV event is hap­pen­ing.

In the nor­mal course of events, the 53-year-old Madonna would be en­ter­ing her Norma Des­mond years. Lady Gaga has swiped her best moves, im­agery and mu­si­cal pat­terns and fash­ioned them into a Madonna 2.0 for her­self. But the orig­i­nal of the species isn’t go­ing qui­etly, and it was no won­der she de­scribed her big Su­per Bowl mo­ment (prior to the event) as the big­gest gig of her ca­reer.

Madge is the first woman to play the Su­per Bowl since Janet Jack­son in 2004 – the “wardrobe mal­func­tion” year, which led to broad­cast­ers in­sert­ing a five-sec­ond de­lay into the half-time en­ter­tain­ment.

Madonna is too savvy to go for some­thing so gauche and des­per­ately head­line-chas­ing as ex­pos­ing her­self or hit­ting the ex­ple­tives. In­stead, into the frame (hand­ily enough) jumped her guest, M.I.A, who got all the “shock and outrage” cov­er­age for rais­ing her mid­dle fin­ger to a cam­era.

Both artists have ben­e­fited hugely from the foot­ball game. Madonna saved her­self a few months on the promo cir­cuit for her new MDNA al­bum, due in midMarch. The ti­tle alone has been do­ing a fair bit of me­dia work on her be­half over the past few weeks, with var­i­ous con­cerned group­ings ex­press­ing dis­plea­sure at the cheeky ref­er­ence to MDMA (aka ec­stasy). Pre-or­ders for MDNA have gone through the roof since Sun­day night, and Madonna’s back-cat­a­logue (on which she leant heav­ily dur­ing her turn) is sell­ing swiftly.

The new of­fi­cial most-watched US TV pro­gramme ever also sub­stan­tially bol­stered the pro­file and sales of the many mu­si­cal acts who had their work fea­tured dur­ing the ad­ver­tise­ments. El­ton John, Möt­ley Crüe, The Dark­ness, Echo and the Bun­ny­men and The Cult all ei­ther ap­peared in ads or had their mu­sic fea­tured. With those viewing fig­ures, ev­ery­one is a win­ner.

Now the mar­keters/bean coun­ters/promo teams are go­ing through the fig­ures to see what worked where and what lessons to­mor­row’s mu­sic pro­mo­tional bud­gets can learn from it all.

Madonna is Queen of the Su­per Bowl, and she got all the heavy lift­ing for the new al­bum out of the way – and in quite spec­tac­u­lar style. It was sup­posed to be a foot­ball match; in­stead it was the most watched al­bum promo slot of all time.

Ma­te­rial magic: Madge rocked the ’Bowl – and the viewing fig­ures

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