Forget Philadelphia, forget Kansas City: What a night for Team Rihanna.
The pop star kicked off a highly anticipated performance at the 57th Super Bowl halftime show on Sunday evening, seven years after her last live performance — and showing off a brand new baby bump, with a rep confirming after the show that the singer is pregnant with her second child.
While the show kept things relatively simple compared to last year’s star-studded, concept-heavy event, the singer’s 13-minute set was a reminder of just how many hits saturate the 34-year-old’s catalogue.
She jumped into the show with B*tch Better Have My Money, dancing atop one of several floating platforms with an army of backup dancers in white puffer jackets. Rihanna herself sported a monochromatic red outfit with a latex corset.
Next came three songs from her 2011 album Talk That Talk: Where Have You Been, Only Girl and We Found Love, interspersed with refrains from S&M before leading into Rude Boy. She then went into her 2016 Drake collaboration Work, commanding the ever-growing group of dancers to follow her across the stage.
After performing the DJ Khaled-produced Wild Thoughts, she strutted across the platforms as if they were a runway before launching into Pour It Up.
A dancer handed her a mirror to quickly check her makeup — a reminder that her absence from music is largely due to a years-long commitment to her cosmetics empire, FENTY — before the opening notes of All of the Lights echoed across the stadium, strobe lights flickering as even more dancers flooded the field to join her.
She sang Run This Town and Umbrella (though there was no guest appearance from Jay-Z, or anyone else) now donning a gown-like coat in the same firetruck red as the rest of her outfit.
RiRi then finished on a high note, literally, stepping onto a platform that elevated her to the skies as she belted the words to Diamonds, the spotlight solely on her as she showcased her vocals.
Rihanna had teased during a Thursday news conference that the halftime show would be “jam packed,” pulling from a repertoire that, beyond what she performed, also includes Don’t Stop The Music, Love On The Brain, Pon de Replay and Disturbia.
“It’s going to be a celebration of my catalogue in the best way that we could have put it together,” Rihanna said.
First performance in years
The performer has mostly pivoted to managing her cosmetics and beauty brand FENTY in recent years, but has slowly dipped her toes back into music in recent months.
She released a new song for the first time in six years for the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack, but hasn’t had a new album since 2016’s ANTI.
The Grammy award-winning singer declined to perform at the event in 2019 out of solidarity with Colin Kaepernick, the embattled quarterback who famously kneeled during the national anthem to protest racism.
She has said that the timing and circumstances were right for her to participate this time around.