The Hamilton Spectator
Pregnant Rihanna glows in futuristic Super Bowl performance
Rihanna has already evolved into an immensely successful singer, a business mogul with a net worth of more than $1 billion and, as of last year, a mom.
On Sunday, the multihyphenate added another accomplishment to the checklist: Super Bowl halftime headliner.
Taking the State Farm Stadium stage in Glendale, Arizona, with her most visible outing in seven years, Rihanna stormed through a vibrant production that spotlighted her flexible R&B grooves coupled with infectious pop hooks. And, of course, her distinctive fashion style.
Rihanna, who turns 35 next week, launched the 13-minute performance on a futuristic-style hovering platform with “Bitch Better Have My Money,” as a cadre of dancers in white jumpsuits shimmied below her. Quick segues into “Where Have You Been” and “Only Girl (In the World)” led to a fireworks display during “We Found Love,” her fizzy banger with Calvin Harris.
But Rihanna also had an explosive reveal planned.
Wait, is Rihanna pregnant again? Striding among her dancers with liquid moves on the red-lighted stage to match her baggy Loewe jumpsuit, which highlighted a baby bump, Rihanna’s pulsing hits flowed in succession, including “Rude Boy,” “Wild Thoughts” and a seductive “Work.”
“Is Rihanna pregnant again” became a breakout term on Google Trends during the performance, as Rihanna gently patted her stomach at one point, prompting excited speculation among fans. After the show, her representative confirmed her pregnancy to The Associated Press.
Prior to the game, Rihanna teased in interviews that she was “thinking about” bringing a special guest to her performance, indicating she was planning for the production to serve as her reveal.
Intricate camera work, including a shot of the stage upside down, added visual flair for TV viewers as Rihanna strode through “Pour It Up” and eventually added some twerking.
A quick powdering of her nose — an obvious nod to her Fenty Beauty makeup line — prefaced “All of the Lights,” her 2011 hit with Kanye West, as even more dancers (maybe some lucky members of the Rihanna Navy?) stormed the field.
The opening notes of “Run This Town” flowed into “Umbrella,” suggesting it might be time for a Jay-Z cameo, but only Rihanna’s backing band and that flock of dancers surrounded her as she again went airborne on her hovering platform.
The stadium alighted for, of course, “Diamonds,” which she sang with conviction while seemingly enjoying the sparkly light show surrounding her.
The Barbados-born superstar owns a stash of multi-platinum singles (among them, 9 million for “Work” and 8 million for “Umbrella,” according to the Recording Industry Association of America), and her Super Bowl debut squeezed as many of her 14 No. 1 hits as possible into the spectacle.
Rihanna’s last album, “Anti,” arrived in 2016, leading to speculation from fans that new work — or at least her first tour since the album’s release — would accompany her Super Bowl debut.
Since “Anti,” the nine-time Grammy Award winner has mostly dedicated her time to boosting the profile of Fenty Beauty, which she started in 2017. Between the success of Fenty and Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty lingerie line, which bowed in 2018, the singer and businesswoman born Robyn Fenty has netted an estimated worth of $1.7 billion, according to Forbes.
Last May, she gave birth to her first child, a son, with longtime beau A$AP Rocky. Though she’s mostly kept details about her child private, Rihanna shared a TikTok video in December that showed the baby smiling and yawning in the backseat of a car.
Rihanna also resurfaced musically last year with the ballad “Lift Me Up,” from “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” The song lost best original song at the Golden Globe Awards to “Naatu Naatu” (from the film “RRR”) but is also up for best original song at the March 12 Oscars. While some have criticized Rihanna’s decision to perform at the 2023 Super Bowl, citing her refusal to accept an invitation in 2019 out of support for ostracized quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the arrival of Jay-Z as a consultant for the NFL likely played a role. The rapper/ business mogul, who has aligned himself with the NFL to expand the cultural influence of the league, helped sign Rihanna to Def Jam Records when she was 16. Rihanna remains a top name at Jay-Z’s Roc Nation label and entertainment firm.