On Sunday night time, after 5 years away from the stage, Rihanna returned with a easy reminder of her expertise. After just a few years of halftime exhibits the place spectacle and a fast tempo reigned, Rihanna’s efficiency ran via her hits in a surprisingly unadorned method. It was proof that her endurance when she was targeted on her music was about charisma and continuous supply. Regardless of hypothesis that she is likely to be joined by company in the course of the efficiency, she did her tight 12 minute set within the firm of dancers and a backing band.
The manufacturing values had been simply as excessive as you would possibly anticipate from a present co-produced by Apple, and he or she spent a lot of the efficiency standing on shifting platform suspended from the ceiling. In a purple jacket by Alaïa, a customized jumpsuit from Loewe, and footwear from the brand new MM6 Maison Margiela x Salomon assortment, she began the present together with her 2015 music “Bitch Higher Have My Cash” surrounded by scores of dancers carrying the identical outfit in white. She moved right into a medley of a few of her largest dance hits, “The place Have You Been,” “Solely Lady (Within the World),” “We Discovered Love,” and a rhythmic prolonged mixture of “Impolite Boy.”
The tempo modified when the opening notes of her 2016 primary “Work,” which segued into “Wild Ideas,” and “Pour It Up,” which she accompanied with some twerking. “All the Lights” began with contact up a little bit of powder from a Fenty palette, and segued into “Run This City,” however she ended the efficiency together with her two of her largest hits, 2007’s “Umbrella” and 2012’s “Diamonds,” which have grow to be career-defining songs.
Her final reside efficiency was on the sixtieth Grammy Awards in February 2019, the place she sang “Wild Ideas,” alongside with its lead artist, DJ Khaled. With 14 primary hits beneath her belt and 31 singles which have hit the highest 10, Rihanna had choices when it got here to selecting a setlist for her flip at Arizona’s State Farm Stadium. On Thursday, she instructed Apple Music’s Nadeska Alexis that she has labored with 39 completely different variations of the set listing because the present’s planning developed.
Talking with Alexis, Rihanna talked about that she acquired the decision about performing on the present simply three months after the delivery of the son she shares with A$AP Rocky, and new motherhood influenced her need to just accept the gig. “While you grow to be a mother, there’s one thing that simply occurs the place you are feeling like you’ll be able to tackle the world. You are able to do something, and the Tremendous Bowl is likely one of the largest phases on this planet,” she mentioned. “So, as scary as that was … there’s one thing exhilarating in regards to the problem of all of it, and it’s essential for me to do that this yr. It’s essential for illustration. It’s essential for my son to see that.”
Although the present was a take a look at for Rihanna’s star energy after years away from the stage, it was additionally the night time the place Apple Music’s cope with the league was put to the take a look at. In September 2022, the tech firm introduced a five-year, $250 million deal to helm the present after Pepsi, its lead sponsor for a decade, pulled out final spring. As an alternative of merely sponsoring the present, the tech firm performed a supporting position in producing the present alongside Jay-Z’s administration and manufacturing firm Roc Nation.
In the end, Rihanna’s choice to carry out is a mirrored image of the adjustments the NFL has made within the wake of 2017’s racial justice protests that turned Colin Kaepernick right into a nationally recognized activist and a league pariah. In truth, within the months earlier than the 2019 Tremendous Bowl she turned down a suggestion to headline the present out of solidarity with Kaepernick. “I simply couldn’t be a sellout. I couldn’t be an enabler,” she instructed Vogue in October 2019. “There’s issues inside that group that I don’t agree with in any respect, and I used to be not about to go and be of service to them in any method.”
Initially, Jay-Z spoke out in assist of Kaepernick’s choice to kneel in the course of the anthem and tackle the league, and in 2019 he reportedly requested Travis Scott to not carry out alongside Maroon 5. However later that yr, Roc Nation signed a cope with the NFL to co-produce the halftime present, 5 months after Kaepernick reached a confidential settlement with the league. In an interview with the New York Instances, Jay-Z famous that the league’s points with securing expertise for the present go a bit deeper than disagreements about social justice. In contrast to a handful of earlier years’ artists, Rihanna stayed away from specific political statements throughout her efficiency.
Based on the Arizona Republic, Jay-Z himself made the choice to ask Rihanna, together with Roc Nation’s co-CEO, Desiree Perez. Jay Brown, the co-CEO of Roc Nation who has labored with Rihanna since 2005, added that Rihanna did need to assume exhausting in regards to the supply earlier than she accepted. “She performs for the love of it,” he says. “She performs for the folks. She loves her followers. That’s actually what she will get out of it. On the identical time, she’s this as having a good time and it being actually enjoyable for her.