Rihanna previewed her Super Bowl Halftime Show during a press conference held on Thursday afternoon.
On Sunday, the Barbados pop star will return to the stage for her first live performance in nearly seven years. In preparing for the Super Bowl, Rihanna said “the setlist was the biggest challenge… deciding how to maximize 13 minutes. It’s going to be a celebration of my catalog.”
Rihanna estimated that she’s workshopped 39 different versions of the setlist in anticipation of the performance.
“It feels like it could have only been now,” Rihanna explained when asked why she finally agreed to play the Super Bowl. “When you become a mom, something just happens where you feel like you could take on the world.”
“It’s important for representation. It is important for my son to see that,” Rihanna added.
In fact, representation seems to be the overarching theme of the performance. “That’s a big part of why it is important for me to do this show — representing for immigrants, representing for my country Barbados, representing for black women everywhere.”
Beyond piecing together the setlist, Rihanna acknowledged the “physical challenge” of headlining such a large production — especially so soon after giving birth to her first child in May 2022. “The physical challenge has been immense. I haven’t done this in a minute.”
Not surprisingly, Rihanna remained coy on new music. Asked to described this current chapter of her career, Rihanna said, “I’m feeling open to exploring, discovering and creating. Things that are new, different, weird — that might not ever makes sense to my fans. I want to just play and have fun with music.”
Rihanna hasn’t released an album since Anti in 2016, and last performed live in 2018 at the Grammy Awards. In recent years, she’s primarily been focused on her cosmetics and fashion company Fenty; the venture has proven extremely lucrative, as she recently became a billionaire at the young age of 34.
Last year, she contributed a pair of songs to the soundtrack — “Lift Me Up” and “Born Again” — to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. “Lift Me Up” was subsequently nominated for Best Original Song at the 2023 Oscars.