Performing live for the first time in nearly four years, Rihanna returned to the stage on Sunday to headline the Super Bowl halftime show, running through a rapid-fire medley of her hits.
Clad in ruby red and flanked by a large crew of dancers, the 34-year-old star belted out No. 1 smashes like “We Found Love,” “Diamonds” and “Only Girl (in the World),” leaning into the up-tempo and dancier sides of her catalog. Despite performing parts of several songs that feature high-profile rappers — “Work,” her hit single with Drake; “Umbrella,” which features Jay-Z; and Kanye West’s “All of the Lights,” on which Rihanna guests — she did not bring any other artists to the stage, preferring to frame the set as a celebration of her dominant pop career. (Recently, the Weeknd and Lady Gaga did the same.)
Rihanna has spent much of her time away from the music world — her most recent album, “Anti,” was released in January 2016 — making her name as a fashion and beauty mogul; in 2021 Forbes estimated her net worth at $1.7 billion. Ever the savvy businesswoman, her halftime performance featured a bit of product placement, when she paused for a moment to reapply some Fenty Beauty powder.
The staging was dramatic and visually striking, as Rihanna hovered over the crowd on an elevated platform that descended from above, and some of her dancers remained poised above the field throughout the set. She blazed through 12 songs in 13 minutes, emphasizing the staggering depth of her catalog as a hitmaker: “Rude Boy” from her 2009 album “Rated R,” “Where Have You Been” from “Talk That Talk” in 2011, “Pour It Up” from her 2012 LP “Unapologetic.” She did not, however, play her most recent single, the ballad “Lift Me Up” from the “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” soundtrack, for which she received her first Academy Award nomination.
The set ended on a triumphant note, when Rihanna played her bombastic ballad “Diamonds,” draped in an oversized red puffer coat, and the stage ascended back to the sky.
Fans have been clamoring for a new Rihanna album, and it’s likely they will have to keep waiting. Despite speculation, she did not debut any new music during her performance, and she has not yet revealed any information about her ninth album. As she told The Associated Press in an interview shortly after she was announced as the halftime headliner, “Super Bowl is one thing. New music is another thing. Do you hear that, fans?”
“Bitch Better Have My Money”
“Where Have You Been”
“Only Girl (in the World)”
“We Found Love”