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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Thursday, November 30, 2023

Rihanna to headline Super Bowl LVII halftime show

Rihanna is pictured for Fenty Beauty (2018).

Rihanna fans, known collectively as the Rihanna Navy, were in luck on Sept. 25 when Rihanna announced via social media that she would be headlining the halftime show at Super Bowl LVII. The posts announcing the news garnered much attention. As of Sept. 27, her tweet has amassed over 1.8 million likes, and her Instagram post has reached 6.7 million likes — expectable numbers for a superstar such as Rihanna. The last time Rihanna performed live on television was at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards in 2018 when she performed alongside DJ Khaled and Bryson Tiller with their top five-peaking hit “Wild Thoughts” (2017).  It’s also considerable to note that the last studio album release from Rihanna came more than half a decade ago with “ANTI” (2016). Since then, Rihanna has focused primarily on her other business ventures such as her cosmetics company Fenty Beauty and fashion line Savage X Fenty.

Rihanna will be the first solo act to headline the Super Bowl halftime show in two years since The Weeknd headlined in 2021. This year, a medley of headliners featuring Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar took the stage. Rihanna also becomes the first sole female headliner since Lady Gaga’s set in 2017. Fans and music connoisseurs alike are pondering what this means for the megastar. 

As mentioned, Rihanna has not released a new studio album since 2016, leading fans to speculate that a new album may be on its way. However, such rumors have circulated for many years since the release of “ANTI,” so there’s no way to know for sure when it comes to Rihanna’s release schedule. In addition to her business ventures, Rihanna welcomed the birth of her first child earlier this year, making 2022 a busy year for the musician-turned-business mogul. In another major event this year, Forbes announced that Rihanna has officially become a billionaire, and not just your run-of-the-mill billionaire (oh, how ludicrous that sounds); she is now the richest female musician on the planet and the second-richest female entertainer behind none other than Oprah Winfrey. 

However, despite her business endeavors making up the bulk of her fortune, Rihanna’s music career is definitely not without its own merit. Presently, Rihanna has the fourth-most No. 1 singles in Billboard Hot 100 history with 14 chart-toppers — a feat she achieved at age 28 with her 14th No. 1 song, “Work” (2016) featuring Drake. Only one female artist, Mariah Carey, has raked in more No. 1s than Rihanna. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that if Rihanna were to release a new album just in time for the upcoming Super Bowl, she could notch a few more No. 1s to her total. In addition, Rihanna has charted two No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200. “ANTI,” her most recent chart-topping album, is the fourth-longest charting album by a solo female artist of all-time in the U.S. and the longest running for a Black female artist. Still not convinced Rihanna is the most qualified for this performance?

In terms of awards, Rihanna has earned nine Grammy Awards from 33 nominations. Her first award came at just the age of 19 from her 2007 collaboration with Jay-Z, “Umbrella.” Evidently, Rihanna has mastered the art of longevity on the music scene, and it’s uncertain where the Super Bowl performance falls within the timeline of her career, yet it is certainly no later than her peak. Rihanna, now 34, has a ways to go professionally, and if time has proven anything, the older she gets, the more successful she becomes.

Some highlights and a non-exhaustive list from Rihanna’s discography that would make an exceptional setlist at the Super Bowl include: “Pon de Replay” (2005), “SOS” (2006), “Umbrella” (2007), “Don’t Stop The Music” (2007), “Disturbia” (2007), “Take a Bow” (2007), “Russian Roulette” (2009), “Rude Boy” (2009), “S&M” (2010), “Only Girl (In The World)” (2010), “What’s My Name?” (2010), “Where Have You Been” (2011), “We Found Love” (2011), “Diamonds” (2012), “Stay” (2012), “Work” (2016), “Needed Me” (2016), “Kiss It Better” (2016), “Love On The Brain” (2016) and “Sex With Me” (2016).

Another great edition would be some of her collaborations including “Love The Way You Lie” (2010)  with Eminem. However, in 2019, a leaked song from Eminem surfaced with lyrics referencing Chris Brown, Rihanna’s former boyfriend, who was charged with and plead guilty to felony charges for assaulting her. The lyrics, which stated, “Of course I side with Chris Brown,” may have been enough to keep a Rihanna-Eminem collaboration from this upcoming halftime show.

“ANTI”-cipation now ensues for all of the Rihanna Navy and halftime-show-loving fans of the NFL for this upcoming Super Bowl. Super Bowl LVII and Rihanna’s halftime performance will take place on Feb. 12, 2023.