After a four-year hiatus from live performances and a seven-year gap since her previous album, Rihanna returned to the spotlight in grand fashion at the Super Bowl halftime show.
When Rihanna took the stage, we saw her face up close, chin tucked as if preparing for a fight, her return to the mainstream music scene serving as an exclamation point in and of itself.
The Barbadian diva controlled a floating stage positioned scarily high above the field, went into a strong start of her repertoire with Bitch Better Have My Money, and then revealed her second pregnancy barely nine months after the birth of her son with one sweep of her palm over her belly.
This is the force of Rihanna, a megastar whose famed laid-back demeanor (and profitable fashion and cosmetics companies) have kept her relevant despite a lengthy musical absence that has, at times, overshadowed her huge library of songs. Her halftime act played up her image as carefree and hip without any unnecessary fuss.
Rihanna performed well-known hits like “We Found Love,” “Where Have You Been,” “Diamonds” and “Work,” and news of her being pregnant has been buzzing on social media.
Rihanna and her baby daddy, musician A$AP Rocky, have been parents for 9 months. In an interview conducted before her halftime performance, the Grammy winner stated that she had second thoughts about performing at the Super Bowl, but motherhood eventually spurred her to do it.
She also said fitting her 18-year catalog into a 13-minute set was tough.
“The setlist was the biggest challenge. That was the hardest part — deciding how to maximize 13 minutes, but also celebrate. That’s what the show’s going to be — it’s going to be a celebration of my catalog in the best way,” she said. “I think we did a pretty good job at narrowing it down.”