Rihanna’s subtle surprises at the Super Bowl steal the show

The pop-star and business mogul had no surprise guests (except a special one that became clear two minutes into the show)


Photo courtesy of Twitter

Rihanna’s opening at the Super Bowl halftime show on February 12

Maggie Blackburn, Arts & Culture Editor

Nine-time Grammy winner and Academy Award Nominee Rihanna took the (floating) stage by storm the night of February 12, during the Super Bowl halftime show. Anyone who only tuned in to the Super Bowl just to watch her performance at halftime, like me, was anything but disappointed. 

Rihanna’s highly anticipated return to the stage was because of her absence from it in recent years. The last time she performed live was in 2016, during “The Anti World Tour.” Viewers of her astonishing performance on Sunday can agree that it was worth the wait.

“I was really looking forward to it, because it wasn’t like we forgot about her, but we missed her,” said RV junior Sabrina Paz.

Rihanna opened her almost 13-minute set list with “B*tch Better Have My Money” in a powerful red jumpsuit, on a floating platform in the middle of six others, all of which were also moving up and down during the performance. She quickly got off the floating stage, but got back on for her last two songs. 

The songs that she presented following “B*tch Better Have My Money” included “Where Have You Been,” “Only Girl (In The World),” “We Found Love,” “Rude Boy,” “Work,” “Wild Thoughts,” “Pour It Up,” “All of the Lights” and “Run This Town.” She closed her show-stopping performance with two of her most acclaimed hits: “Umbrella” and “Diamonds.” On Spotify alone, these two songs together have accumulated over two billion streams. Paz agrees that Rihanna curated a “perfect combination of all her songs,” and her “favorite part was ‘Diamonds’ and seeing all of the people waving their flashlights in the stadium.”

Not only did Rihanna leave everyone who tuned in starstruck with her memorable performance, but she also made a huge announcement: she’s pregnant. She and her boyfriend, rapper A$AP Rocky, welcomed a baby boy into the world in May 2022. We now know that they are also now expecting their second child, most likely some time in the summer. Of course Rihanna’s performance was massively impressive on its own, but the fact that she did all of that, singing for 13 minutes straight while also dancing, is all the more amazing that she did it a few months pregnant, without even looking phased. 

And of course, being the genius she is, Rihanna publicized her own make-up brand, Fenty Beauty mid-performance. A little over halfway through her set, before she started singing “All of the Lights,” she paused to reapply Fenty Beauty’s “Invisimatte Instant Setting + Blotting Powder.” While it was super subtle, it was a quick and easy way for her to market her brand — wwd.com reported that Rihanna’s quick touch-up helped to bring in millions.

Rihanna also leaves a lasting impact on the Super Bowl halftime show as one of the very few Black women to perform in it. When discussing this in an interview with 9NEWS, she said, “That’s a big part of why it’s important for me to do this show: representation. Representing for immigrants. Representing for my country, Barbados. Representing for Black women everywhere. That’s really important.”

My eyes couldn’t leave the TV for the entire 13 minutes she was on, and, I think, this is one of the best halftime performances we’ve ever seen.