Rihanna’s Halftime Show: Did it Shine Bright, or Fall Flat?


Vanity Fair

Singer, fashion mogul, and business owner Rihanna shocked fans in the stands and at home with her captivating halftime show performance.

For sports fanatics, Super Bowl festivities consist of eating an endless buffet of wings in front of the television, anxiously awaiting the next play (and throwing a fit if it doesn’t go their way). Meanwhile, those who are indifferent to the football aspect of the event eye their sports-enthusiast family members with confusion and prefer critiquing the program’s wide array of commercials. Despite their differences, though, these 113 million viewers can agree on one thing: the halftime show. It offers the perfect chance for the teams’ top fans to take a nice break from the excitement of the game, and an even better chance for the less sport-inclined folks to tune in to one of the most significant TV events of the year. 

Americans anticipated this year’s halftime show with exceptional eagerness as it would be the featured singer’s big return to the spotlight. The halftime show was Rihanna’s first televised performance in five years, the 60th Annual Grammy Awards in 2018 being her most recent show. Furthermore, the star hasn’t gifted her steadfast fans with an album since 2018’s “Anti”. 

It’s safe to say that her fans were as—if not more—dedicated than the teams’. Supermodel Cara Delevingne, who attended the game herself, even flaunting a shirt with the words: “Rihanna concert interrupted by a football game; weird but whatever”. That surely was the common sentiment among Rihanna’s fans who, despite her brief respite from the stage, have certainly remained loyal.

Super Bowl LVII recorded the most-viewed game in six years; a statistic fitting for the highlighted star, Rihanna, who, like the game, has swept national records with her hit tunes which typified the early 2000s. 

“Riri” hit the stage with a striking, monochromatic look. Wearing a red jumpsuit designed by Johnathan Anderson, along with an ensemble of backup dancers rocking a similarly uniform look (all-white jumpsuits), the pop-singer’s performance echoed both nostalgia and modernity. 

Her lyrical lineup consisted of spunky selections, like “B— Better Have My Money”, and ended with an ode to the peaks of the singer’s career, when her biggest hits “Umbrella” (2007) and “Diamonds” (2012) were released. Rihanna’s evolution as an artist can be heard throughout the lineup, which gave listeners more than a decade’s worth of some of the nation’s finest pop songs. 

The artist herself said that determining which of her many hits would make the cut for the lineup was the “hardest part” of the arduous preparations for the show. 

While previously featured halftime singers, like Katy Perry and Jennifer Lopez, opted for a more dynamic, energetic performance, Rihanna kept the exaggerated dance moves to a minimum. Her presence on the stage sufficed and resulted in a calm and collected sequence, even despite the petrifying heights at which she was belting her perfect high notes. 

Rihanna wears many different hats: singer, fashion mogul, business owner, wife, and mother. This multifaceted identity shone through on the stage, where she reminded the world that, even with her fame and fortune, she also has a family life. The performance doubled as a nonchalant pregnancy announcement, confirmed by her representative, Amanda Silverman.

Despite the general positivity around the show and Rihanna’s selection, some felt that the “Wild Thoughts” singer just didn’t deliver. Many people missed the outfit changes and visual stimulation of previous halftime shows, while others criticized her (quite obvious) lip-syncing as inauthentic. Members of the Wilton High School community shared their controversial opinions on the show.

“It was a very mid show,” said junior Shayna Wilson-Spiro. “I get that she was pregnant, but I think she should have at least been able to dance.” The visual aspect of the show was, in many ways, lacking. Aside from Riri’s crimson-colored suit, the rest seemed aesthetically plain. “Her backup dancers looked like bouncing marshmallows, and I think their outfits could have been better,” added Aarushi Agrawal.

Others enjoyed the risky heights and flashy visuals. “I liked it because she was really high in the air. It was super exciting. And also scary!” said student Sayuki Layne. 

For the amount of time and money invested into the halftime show (upwards of $10 million), they could have probably spared an extra outfit change or visual surprise. This being said, fans and critics must realize that the 34-year-old star put on this performance while pregnant. Also, her artistic vision was certainly no careless decision. She even added a subtle shameless plug with a reference to her fragrance and fashion line, Fenty Beauty, when, in the middle of the performance, she applied a thin layer of powder, handed to her by a backup dancer.