When Bruce Springsteen plays the Super Bowl halftime show on February 1st, it will be for the biggest audience of his career: Last year, 148.3 million Americans watched Superbowl XLII, more than the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony and the Academy Awards combined. Which should mean good things for Springsteen's new Working on a Dream and 2009 tour (for the story behind the making of the album, check the issue of Rolling Stone that hits newsstands this week). In the week after last year's Tom Petty performance, "Free Fallin'" sold 63,000 digital copies — and his tour, which kicked off that spring, went on to become one of the year's biggest. In 2006, sales of the Rolling Stones' A Bigger Bang album shot up 34 percent the week after the Bowl.
So why Bruce? "We have a lot of fans in common," says NFL exec Charles Coplin. "And he performs so well on a large scale that we always felt that it was a good fit." One thing neither party will discuss is what songs Springsteen will play. Prince performed a medley of hits (including a Foo Fighters cover) in 2007, and the Stones played a new song plus two classic cuts. "The goal of the Super Bowl thing," says a source in Springsteen's camp, "is to see how much fun he can get into those 12 minutes."