On Sunday, September 25, 2022, international pop superstar and business mogul, Rihanna, 34, surprised her millions of fans around the world when she announced that she would be headlining next year’s Superbowl. This will be the first public performance by the singer since her Grammy performance back in 2018. Although fans seem to be excited about her return to the stage, the decision to headline isn’t without a little controversy. In 2019, during her interview with Vogue magazine, Rihanna unequivocally stated that she had turned down the NFL’s offer to perform during the halftime show in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick (former quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers) who claimed he was being blackballed from playing football due to his kneeling during the national anthem in protest against police brutality against black people, “I couldn’t dare do that. For what? Who gains from that? Not my people. I just couldn’t be a sellout. I couldn’t be an enabler. There’s things within that organization that I do not agree with at all, and I was not about to go and be of service to them in any way.”
This year’s Superbowl event is in partnership with Apple Music, replacing long-time primary partner, Pepsi. Oliver Schusser, Vice President for Apple Music and Beats said, “We’re excited to partner with Rihanna, Roc Nation and the N.F.L. to bring music and sports fans a momentous show.” The Superbowl is scheduled to take place on February 12, 2023, in Glendale, Arizona. Eight days before the pop icon’s 35th birthday. On May 19, reports confirmed that Rihanna had given birth to her first child, a boy with boyfriend ASAP Rocky.
Abron’s Hot Take
As a Rihanna fan, I’m super excited to see her return to what she has become well known for which is singing. I would imagine the hardest challenge she will have in preparing for this show is knowing which songs to perform as both her solo catalog as well as her feature songs have become some of the biggest hits in music history. How do you combine over a decade of music into a 15-minute show? I’m stressing out just thinking about it! But the main question I would ask Rihanna as I’m sure most journalists will should she decide to do any interviews leading up to the event is why now? What changed within her world that she now has agreed to do the halftime show after firmly standing against the idea after many offers? I don’t judge the decision, either way, I simply would just like to know why now?
If I were a betting man, I would say that it could have something to do with the fact that her boss and mentor, Shawn Carter – known well by his stage name, Jay Z, 52, has served as the NFL’s “live music and entertainment strategist,” for the past three years through his Roc Nation sports division. Rihanna is both signed and managed by Roc Nation. Since 2019, Jay Z has consulted on the Superbowl halftime show, influencing the acts of mostly black artists to show solidarity with the NFL and its Inspire Change activism campaign. I would imagine having him as part of this event made the decision a bit easier for Rihanna to say yes. This year’s Superbowl halftime show, made up mostly of the top names in hip hop was not only well received by audiences, but it won the Emmy award for both Outstanding Variety Special (Live) and Outstanding Production Design for a Variety Special.
Jay Z signed Rihanna to her very first record deal under Def Jam records back in 2005 when he served as the labels President. He has since served as a mentor, friend, and music collaborator. One thing I can say for sure is regardless of how some people may feel about her decision to perform, whether they agree or not or have issues with the sudden about-face, or change of heart, the show will undoubtedly be watched by millions. Rihanna is a beloved superstar and has always been “unapologetic,” about who she is, and we love her for it.
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