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What to Expect? Here Are 9 Rihanna Super Bowl LVII Halftime Show Predictions
Will we get new music? Will there be guest appearances? Here are nine predictions of what to expect from Rihanna's Super Bowl LVII Halftime Show performance.
Seven years ago, it wouldn’t have crossed anyone’s mind that Rihanna — who dropped eight albums in 11 years — would be taking a musical hiatus. Fast forward to 2023, Rihanna is set to make one of the biggest comebacks to the musical stage that industry has seen. While there’s no confirmation that this return will have music attached, the anticipation heightens as the days, minutes and seconds roll on.
Taking on her the biggest stage of her career as headliner of the Super Bowl LVII halftime show, there’s a lot of wonder in the air as to just what Rihanna will do. From her lengthy list of hits, to what happens after Sunday’s showing, fans and critics alike are full of speculation.
So we’ve comprised our list of predictions — nine to be exact — for what we can expect from Rihanna's big Super Bowl performance.
1. Rihanna will open with an oldie
When you have classics like "We Found Love" and "S.O.S." in your catalog, it could be impossible to pinpoint what the best opener will be. One thing that we guarantee — Rihanna’s opener will be a widely beloved, uptempo hit in her catalog. If we were betting, we'd put some pennies on the Bad Gal opening with "Only Girl In The World."
2. Every album will be represented
Accumulating 14 no. 1 hits and 32 top 10 hits over the course of her career, we wouldn’t want to be Rihanna when it comes to narrowing down what songs to fit in 13 minute set. That said, it’s safe to say that Rihanna will perform records that cover the eight album eras we’ve experienced since her 2005 debut, Music of the Sun. While most of the records will be cut and receive the short end of the stick, it’s an achievable and expected challenge to highlight every album in some capacity.
3. There will be big name guests featured
JAY-Z, Kanye West, Eminem and Shakira — these are just a few big names that Rihanna has worked with throughout her career. While it’s unlikely that all of these big names will help support Rihanna during her set, we should expect some surprise appearances from her peers. The true mystery lies in just who may take the stage. With Drake featured on two of Rihanna’s no. 1 singles — "What's My Name?" and "Work — we would love see the former lovers reunite on stage.
4. Rihanna's latest hit, "Lift Me Up," will make a very brief appearance
Rihanna's comeback ballad, "Lift Me Up" from the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack, debuted at no. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. So it's technically a hit. But it's not one of the more popular Rihanna songs. Super Bowl performances are for uptempo bops. And "Lift Me Up" is not popular or dramatic enough to bring the house down in a Prince "Purple Rain" kind of way. Because it's new, expect an appearance from the song — but it will be a very curt one.
5. Rihanna will foreshadow new music
New music is certainly on the top of every Rihanna fan’s wish list. For the past few years, Ms. Fenty has confirmed she’s been working on her immensely anticipated ninth studio album and yet there’s still nothing to show for. Having millions of people’s attention for 13 minutes, it’s not the most outlandish idea that Rihanna may use the halftime show platform to dive into some new music.
6. Probably no new album news afterward
The anticipation of a new album is already on high and there’s no bigger promotion than the Super Bowl, so the idea of Rihanna’s ninth studio album arriving much sooner than later isn’t the most extreme wish we could be holding on to. With that being said, we don't see it. It took Beyoncé almost a full year to release her self titled album after her Super Bowl XLVII halftime show. We expect something similar here.
7. Rihanna will be hitting the road after
Photo Credit: Christopher Polk
Even if there is no new music coming for while, we do think she will be hitting the road to perform some of the greatest hits. To be fair, we are kind of cheating with this "prediction." There already has been reports Rihanna is planning a an Adele-like residency.
8. Rihanna will debut a new look
Red hair, short hair, blonde hair and everything in between, Rihanna’s look is always an instrumental part of her music and artistry. With her eras across the years all possessing a signature that fans can identify just from a simple hairstyle, we're expecting Rihanna to keep up her risk-taking in the fashion realm and debut a new look that may or may not continue through her ninth album cycle.
9. There will be lots of Barbados representation and very little activism.
Rihanna has had a bump history with the NFL. In 2018, the NFL asked her to do the halftime show, but she turned down the opportunity. Instead she stood in solidarity with quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was in the middle of a controversy with the NFL after kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police brutality. (She later told Vogue that she "couldn’t be a sellout.”)
Time has healed most of those wounds. And it seems like she's ready to play nice. We predict there won't be any Eminem kneeling moments this Sunday. In fact, during an interview with Apple music yesterday, she talked about her new son and "representation" being the strongest drivers for the show. She said:
"It feels like it could have only been now. I mean, when I first got the call to do it again this year, I was like, “Psst, you sure?” I’m three months postpartum, like, should I be making major decisions like this now? Like I might regret this. But when you become a mom, there’s something that just happens where you feel like you could take on the world, you could do anything. And the Super Bowl is one of the biggest stages in the world. So as scary as that was because I haven’t been on stage in seven years, there’s something exhilarating about the challenge of it all. And it’s important for me to do this this year. It’s important for representation, it’s important for my son to see that."
Her Barbados roots have always been an integral part of her journey through stardom. Having music in her discography (‘Watch n’ Learn,’ ‘Man Down,’ ’Pon De Replay,’ etc.) that puts the spotlight on her Caribbean heritage, it’s without question that the singer will be bringing her country to the stage.
Travis Grier is a freelance writer based in Baltimore who has written for Def Pen and Karen Civil. He can be found on Twitter at @yoyotrav.