Even before the historic game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs was settled, the true winner of Super Bowl LVII was Rihanna, who made her triumphant return to live performance on the biggest of stages: the Halftime Show. While her epic performance more than delivered the show-stopping celebration of her many hits that her fans had anticipated, it was also filled with plenty of surprises—including choreography from her frequent collaborator Parris Goebel, a cheeky Fenty product placement, and a well-placed belly rub that set the Internet ablaze with pregnancy speculations, as well as criticism that so much focus shifted from her musical return to the status of her postpartum body. Following the performance, the Hollywood Reporter reported that Rihanna’s rep confirmed that she is pregnant.
Ahead of the Super Bowl in a press conference, the multihyphenate spoke with Apple Music, this year’s Halftime Show sponsor, sharing details of her intense preparations, which included making “about 39 versions of the setlist.” During the presser, she also shared that she had originally had some misgivings about doing the show since it is taking place three months after she gave birth to her first child, a son with her partner, the rapper A$AP Rocky.
“I’m three months postpartum, like, should I be making major decisions like this now?’ Like, ‘I might regret this,’” she said. “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.”
Read more: The 10 Best Rihanna Performances of All Time
Ultimately, the show featured a horde of dancers, a spectacular fireworks display, and levitating stages that moved up and down while Rihanna belted songs out from the risers and the main stage. Her electrifying performance signaled that even though it’s been seven years since we’ve had a new album from Rihanna, the bad gal can still bring it when it comes to putting on a show.
“Musically, I’m feeling open,” she said. “I’m feeling open to exploring, discovering, creating, things that are new, things that are different…I just want to play. I want to have fun. I want to have fun with music.”
Here are the highlights of Rihanna’s Super Bowl LVII Halftime Show.
What songs did Rihanna perform?
Rihanna opened the show with a rousing rendition of her hit song, “Bitch Better Have My Money” and then pumped up the crowd with her dance hits “Where Have You Been” and “Only Girl (In The World).” She kept the energy up with new arrangements of “We Found Love” and “Rude Boy.”
It was expected that she would perform her most popular songs, but the main surprise of the night was that Rihanna did not bring out any special guests, even when she sang collaborations like “Work,” “Wild Thoughts,” “All of The Lights,” Run This Town,” and “Umbrella.” She closed out the show with a touching performance of “Diamonds,” watched the fireworks, and took in the most momentous performance of her career.
Read more: Rihanna Is Finally Back With New Music. Here’s What She’s Been Up to Since ANTI—and What’s Next
Who did Rihanna bring out during the halftime show?
While it’s become customary for most Halftime headliners to feature special guests during their shows, Rihanna broke with tradition and was the sole performer during the performance, relying instead on the impeccable talents of her dozens of backup dancers, who wined, body-rolled, and dropped it low. That’s not to say that Rihanna didn’t include a special feature during the performance—she took time to powder her nose with a Fenty Beauty compact in the middle of her set, taking product placement to a whole new level, while her pregnancy reveal during the set truly stole the show.
Read more: Rihanna on Building a Beauty Empire: ‘I’m Going To Push the Boundaries in This Industry’
What did Rihanna wear during her performance?
Rihanna’s look consisted of a striking red bodysuit with a matching red patent breastplate from Loewe, worn under a jumpsuit in the same bright shade. She accessorized the look with diamond earrings, vintage diamond brooches, red MM6 Maison Margiela x Salomon sneakers, and red leather gloves and a slicked-back braided ponytail with her bangs pulled out.
The sporty, futuristic look was complemented by white Hazmat suit-esque costumes her backup dancers wore, paired with reflective sunglasses and mesh undershirts. For the second half of her performance, Rihanna topped off her look with a dramatic red puffer-style coat from Alaia.
Read more: Rihanna’s 25 Best Fashion Moments of All Time
How did her fans respond to her performance online?
For one thing, prolifically: immediately after the performance, Twitter would not load tweets for a couple of minutes. Her long-awaited show had been hyped for months leading up to tonight’s musical comeback, and fans were satisfied with the results. The straightforward simplicity of her choices went down well: Rihanna, and Rihanna alone, just the star, just the hits, just a little global promo for the mogul’s makeup line.
When she took the stage, the performance started out with a close-up on her face and zoomed out to show her entire outfit. As fans took in her performance, much of the conversation focused, as it so often does in our gossip-centric culture, on her postpartum body. During the show, the word “pregnant” began trending on Twitter, with viewers reading into a belly rub she did while singing the lyric “life inside” and a quote she gave during a pre-show interview in which she said, “I’m thinking about bringing someone.” Others criticized the speculation and the mass effort to investigate a woman’s reproductive status, saying that the moment should be about her return to music and what this means for her career, not about her body.
“Maybe Rihanna is pregnant, or maybe she just has a normal postpartum body, and we’re so used to shaming women into hiding that we’re shocked when we see a woman celebrating her body,” one person tweeted.
In the hour following the Halftime Show, multiple outlets confirmed that Rihanna is pregnant.
Her performance was well-received on social media for the sheer amount of theatrics and the anticipation that had built up to this moment. All the noise aside, the biggest question that still remains is: When will there be new music? There had been rumors that Rihanna would be releasing a new single in tandem with the performance along with recent rumors of her announcing a world tour. Neither of those happened, but the Super Bowl Halftime Show marked her long-awaited return to music, and now the world waits to see what happens next.
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