“There’s a football game happening in the middle of the Rihanna concert” has been the internet’s running joke since nine-time Grammy-winner Rihanna announced her performance at the Super Bowl LVII halftime show last year. On Sunday night, the 34-year-old pop princess took the stage to perform a setlist of her iconic hits including “Work,” “Umbrella,” and “Diamonds,” for fans that had not seen her on stage in nearly seven years.
The halftime show, cleverly nicknamed the “#FentyBowl,” was iconic from beginning to end. In the first ten seconds, the show’s surprise guest was revealed as Rihanna displayed her baby bump, confirming that she is pregnant with her second child. According to Axios, this makes her the first pregnant person to headline the Super Bowl halftime show. Rihanna also paused mid-show to touch up her makeup, a not-so-subtle plug for her Fenty makeup line, and took another moment to grin at the camera while strutting down the stage, clearly proud of her performance.
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) February 13, 2023
The #FentyBowl’s futuristic theme was like nothing seen at the Super Bowl before. The set’s creativity made the performance feel like a spectacle, with Rihanna literally using the illuminated sky as her stage. At the center, there were five glowing hover-craft-like platforms suspended at various heights in the shape of a pyramid. On the ground was a long red runway that was utilized to create a 3-D feel with strategic camera angles and dynamic choreography.
For Rihanna's Super Bowl halftime show, the staging was dramatic and visually striking, as the superstar hovered over the crowd on an elevated platform that descended from above, and some of her dancers remained poised above the field throughout the set. https://t.co/y4aLYmSL5Q pic.twitter.com/L23nmfBcnO
— The New York Times (@nytimes) February 13, 2023
The talent level of Rihanna’s dancers was extraordinary and they added a needed enthusiastic energy to the performance as Rihanna herself was limited in choreography due to her pregnancy. The synchronized choreography during “All Of The Lights” was mesmerizing as every dancer was in complete unison jumping and waving their arms to the iconic chorus that got the crowd on their feet. The dancers wore matching white puffer suits and large silver sunglasses, making them incognito. They all moved as one around Rihanna, effectively making her the focal point in each camera shot. The dancers were so popular; in fact, a clip of them running onto the field has already become a viral meme.
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The best moment was the show’s finale when Rihanna performed a stripped-down version of her crowd-favorite hit “Diamonds.” All of the dancers on the ground froze with their hands to the sky as Rihanna was dramatically lifted on her glowing platform with a massive spotlight shining down on her. The visual of glowing lights behind her was breath-taking as fireworks went off above the stadium.
According to TV technology, roughly 123.5 million people watched Rihanna’s performance. What better way for the princess of pop to return than to perform for millions and make history as one of the handful of Black women who have graced the iconic Super Bowl halftime show stage? Though she faces criticism for not inviting other artists to perform with her, as is tradition, Rihanna clearly wanted to prove that this was her night to shine bright like a diamond.