With the exception of a bump that had viewers wondering whether she was pregnant again or merely carrying some baby weight from her son’s birth last May, Rihanna played it relatively straight for her Super Bowl Halftime performance, performing a quick-cut, hits-filled set while soaring high above the State Farm field in Glendale, Ariz. She kept her moves calm but stately, letting dozens of male dancers in baggy white hazmat-style suits do the heavy lifting; there were no special guests or anything out of the ordinary — except that bump.
The set was relatively low-key for good reason: Rihanna’s rep confirmed to Variety shortly after the show that the singer is expecting a second child, presumably with partner A$AP Rocky.
In the weeks since the announcement of her Halftime performance — her first full set in some six years, although she did pop onstage with Pharrell at her Diamond Ball benefit in 2019 — fans have speculated at great length about who her special guests might be, whether she’d premiere new songs or announce an album or tour. None of that happened, as she played it straight with a visually impressive but relatively low-key — low-key for the Super Bowl, anyway — set that didn’t feature a single song less than six years old.
Clad in a bright red jumpsuit with a sort of plastic halter, Rihanna began the set provocatively with “Bitch Better Have My Money” (murmuring or skipping the first word) from a platform high above the field, flanked by other platforms with dancers on them. The platforms lowered, revealing dozens of identically dressed dancers, choreographed by Parris Goebel, moving in sync on the field, actually reminiscent of the closing moments of the Weeknd’s 2021 Super Bowl Halftime performance.
She moved quickly through a sort of megamix of her biggest hits, racing through “Where Have You Been,” “Only Girl (in the World),” “Work,” “We Found Love” and more, sometimes playing just a few seconds of each. The production didn’t hold back, unleashing fireworks on the third song, just a couple of minutes into the performance.
After a snippet of the Rihanna-featuring DJ Khaled song “Wild Thoughts,” “Pour It Up” and the “Rude Boy” remix, the set moved into two Kanye West-helmed songs featuring Rihanna, his “All of the Lights” and Jay-Z’s “Run This Town,” although his heavy contributions to her hits may have made that inevitable.
The set concluded with two of her biggest hits, “Umbrella” and “Diamonds,” as the platform ascended again and Rihanna thanked the crowd.
It was a fan-satisfying performance that was nonetheless low on surprises, except for one — and yet again, Rihanna has the world talking while not giving much away.