A Review of Rihanna's Halftime Show

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Photo courtesy of Dave Adamson

Rihanna headlined the 57th annual Super Bowl halftime show Sunday, Feb. 12, lighting up the State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona amid the intensity of the Chiefs and the Eagles. 

She began the performance suspended on a glass platform in the middle of the 63,500-person arena, and opened with the iconic “Bitch Better Have My Money” in an all red jumpsuit and bustier beneath a puffer coat.  

As soon as the lights hit her face, Rihanna commanded the presence of millions of viewers without even moving a fingertip. Her confidence was palpable even through the screen, and I cannot fathom how she did not look scared as she was suspended in the air with no restraints. 

Her set featured some of her most famous hits, including “Where Have You Been,” “Only Girl,” “We Found Love,” “Rude Boy,” “Work,” “Wild Thoughts,” “Pour it Up,” “All the Lights,” “Run This Town,” and “Umbrella.” Her 14-minute set was stacked, with flawless transitions between each song. 

 

I loved how she stood out throughout her army of backup dancers since they were all dressed in white puffy outfits. Although they did kind of look like marshmallows, I enjoyed the image of unity that they portrayed. I did see a few TikTok videos comparing them to Oompa Loompas, though.

Rihanna didn’t have any outfit changes or elaborate stunts like we have seen in performances in years past, but I think that creative decision allowed her to spotlight the most important thing: her music. She didn’t need any distractions and I loved the simplicity as compared to years past. 

Since this was her first live performance since the 2018 Grammy Awards, I think that she really wanted to highlight the music that has turned her into a pop culture icon. I have seen reviews calling her performance underwhelming, but I think that was the right choice for her, especially because she announced her second pregnancy. 

When the show first opened, she opened her jacket to reveal a baby bump, and she rubbed her stomach. I cannot fathom how much time, effort, and energy was put into rehearsing her performance and the fact that she was pregnant makes it even more impressive. I don’t think that anything like that has ever happened at the Super Bowl. 

She kept it hyped the entire time, and I couldn’t take my eyes off the screen. I hadn’t heard my friends that silent in a while, which honestly says a lot. We all agreed that we wished it was longer than 14 minutes. 

There was one strange thing, though. At the end of her performance, it appeared that she shaped her hands into the Illuminati triangle and held them to the sky while she was suspended in the air. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but it did feel out of place. 

Overall, I think that Rihanna put on an impeccable performance that I am still astounded by. I think that whoever performs next year will have large shoes to fill and I will forever be jealous that I didn’t get to see it live.