Rihanna” was already trending on Twitter ahead of her much-anticipated Super Bowl LVII halftime show, her first live performance since 2019. But when the Fenty mogul appeared at Arizona’s State Life Stadium, “pregnant” became a top trending term as well.
Major press outlets like The Independent, TMZ, PageSix, Pop Crave, Consequence, and The Sun all immediately jumped to the conclusion that Rihanna was pregnant with her second child, with the singer’s representative confirming the glass ceiling-shattering news to The Hollywood Reporter and other publications about an hour later. Rihanna has now made history as the first woman to headline a Super Bowl halftime show while pregnant.
While Rihanna did not make a big, official pregnancy announcement at the big game, a la Beyoncé’s onstage baby-bump reveal at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards, her repeated rubbing of her belly — which was on prominent display in a molded-breasted, avant-athleisure red bodysuit with matching low-slung belt — was apparently a similar signal. The pop icon first made the internet-breaking gesture during her opening number, a (censored) version of “Bitch Better Have My Money,” while suspended over the 50-yard line on a hydraulic illuminated glass platform; when she ascended back into the sky during her triumphant, fireworks-enhanced final number, “Diamonds,” she gave her stomach another quick but impossible-to-ignore caress.
The 13-minute show’s noticeable lack of advanced choreography, costume changes, and other massive production tricks — at least compared to other recent halftime shows like last year’s Dr. Dre-curated all-star hip-hop tour de force, the Weeknd’s pandemic-era high-concept spectacle, Jennifer Lopez and Shakira’s 2020 double-bill, or Lady Gaga’s electrifying 2017 appearance — also indicated that Rihanna was taking it easy for good reason.
And finally, while Rihanna wasn’t joined by any superstar guests during her 12-song medley — no Calvin Harris for “We Found Love,” no Drake for “Work,” not even Jay-Z for “Umbrella” — she had cheekily hinted to CBS’s Nate Burleson that a surprise “special guest” might appear onstage with her, which fans now believe was a reference to her unborn child.
In May 2022, Rihanna welcomed her first child, a son, with her partner, rapper ASAP Rocky. Speaking during a press conference Thursday, the singer, whose full name is Robyn Rihanna Fenty, admitted that she was hesitant when the NFL initially approached her — when she was just three months postpartum — about performing at the 2023 Super Bowl. But she then revealed that motherhood had bolstered her confidence, saying, “When you become a mom, there’s something that just happens where you feel like you can take on the world. You can do anything, and the Super Bowl is one of the biggest stages in the world. So, as scary as that was… there’s something exhilarating about the challenge of it all, and it’s important for me to do this this year. It’s important for representation. It’s important for my son to see that.”
However, the multi-hyphenate entertainer also confessed that finding work-life balance had been challenging after giving birth. “The balance is almost impossible, because no matter how you look at it, work is always something that’s going to rob you of time with your child,” she explained. “That’s the currency now, and that’s where it goes. The magnitude of how much it weighs. When you make decisions on what you’re going to say yes to, it has to be worth it.”
Rihanna performs ‘Diamonds’ at Super Bowl LVII halftime show
Rihanna performs ‘Diamonds’ at Super Bowl LVII halftime show. Source: Facebook/NFL
Rihanna has not released a full album since 2016’s critically acclaimed Anti, although she did appear on two tracks on last year’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack and is reportedly working on her ninth studio album while still trying to maintain work-life balance. She certainly had enough classic material from her illustrious 18-year career to create a hits-packed Super Bowl setlist; in fact, she went through 39 different versions of that setlist before settling on the greatest-hits revue detailed below:
“Bitch Better Have My Money”
“Where Have You Been?”
“Only Girl in the World”
“We Found Love”
“Pour It Up”
“All of the Lights”
“Run This Town”
Super Bowl LVII, with the Philadelphia Eagles facing off against the Kansas City Chiefs, took place Feb. 12, 2023, at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. Other musical performers during the pregame show included country superstar Chris Stapleton, 12-time Grammy-winner Babyface, and Emmy-winning actress/singer Sheryl Lee Ralph.