Rihanna returned to the stage for the first time in seven years at the 2023 Apple Music Super Bowl Halftime Show tonight (Feb. 12), delivering a show-stopping, 13-minute performance at State Farm Stadium just outside Phoenix.
Dressed in a monochrome red jumpsuit that revealed her to be pregnant with her second child, Rihanna started the performance with her 2015 hit “Bitch Better Have My Money” flanked by backup dancers perched on raised platforms towering over the field. The choreography-heavy performance moved into “Where Have You Been,” “Only Girl (in the World),” “We Found Love,” “Rude Boy,” “Work,” and “Wild Thoughts” before the singer took a pause mid-set to fix her makeup, giving a nod to her Fenty beauty line.
And although no fresh music was featured in the Halftime Show (Rihanna has not released an album since 2016’s Anti), sources tell SPIN the artist will imminently announce a 2023 tour in spite of her pregnancy.
Throughout the performance, Rihanna stuck to the classics, delivering a medley of 14 of her biggest hits, also including “Pour It Up,” “All of the Lights,” “Run This Town,” “Umbrella,” and concluding with “Diamonds.” Fans in the stadium helped light up the venue before a barrage of fireworks ended the set.
During a Feb. 10 press conference hosted by sponsor Apple Music, Rihanna said curating the setlist had been her the biggest challenge in preparing for the career high moment. “You’re trying to cram 17 years of work into 13 minutes, so it’s difficult,” she said. “Some songs we had to lose because of that, and that’s going to be OK, but I think we did a pretty good job of narrowing it down.”
Rihanna previously turned down an offer to headline the Halftime Show in 2020, citing solidarity with quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers star who remains without an NFL team after protesting during the National Anthem in 2016 and 2017.
This year’s Halftime Show was the first to be sponsored by Apple Music, which took the reigns from Pepsi. It follows last year’s performance by Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, and Mary J. Blige, which won three Creative Emmy Awards.
Rihanna recorded two songs for the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack last year, with one of them, “Lift Me Up,” earning an Academy Award nomination for best original song.