When Rihanna was announced as the Super Bowl LVII halftime performer, it was hardly believable for both the Barbados-born musician and her loyal fans. Her last studio album Anti was released back in 2016. The last time the singer performed a current single was at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards in 2018 when she joined DJ Khaled and Bryson Tiller for “Wild Thoughts.” Simply put, it’s been a while— five years to be exact—since Rihanna has put on a show.
The Navy has stood strong as their admiral commanded over Fenty Beauty, Savage X Fenty, the FENTY fashion brand, and other non-music ventures in recent years. In the midst of extending her Fenty empire, the global star had her first child with Harlem-bred beau A$AP Rocky in May 2022. Fans continued to get their fix by streaming Anti; it recently reached 350 weeks on the Billboard 200. The general thirst for new Rihanna music even became a longstanding meme.
Then in September, an Instagram photo of @badgalriri’s signature tattooed hand holding a football confirmed that her break from music was coming to an end. The 34-year-old was revealed as the headlining act for the 2023 Super Bowl, resulting in fans questioning: why the need for a football game at a Rihanna concert?
Her official return to music came in November 2022 with the release of “Lift Me Up” and “Born Again” for the Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack. As the big game nears, A$AP Rocky has promised “she’s going to bring it,” sharing his excitement for Rihanna’s return to creating and performing. But what exactly is she going to bring? With a massive discography of R&B ballads, pop hits, major Hip-Hop collabs, reggae bops, and more, there are endless songs the superstar could serve up for her anticipated live show.
Below are 8 songs Rihanna should incorporate into her performance when she returns to the stage at Super Bowl LVII.
"Don’t Stop The Music”
“Don’t Stop The Music” is the perfect dance track to get the party started. Released in 2007, the song peaked at No. 3 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and has since been certified four times platinum. While it may not be a deep-cut fan favorite, it is a globally-recognized hit. Hopefully, Rihanna takes the song’s advice and continues her career as a musician after the Super Bowl with new music.
“Work” is the perfect blend of dancehall and R&B music and it is impossible to sit down while this song is playing. Released in January 2016, the steamy lead single appeared on her album Anti, which wasreleased later that year in April. While a surprise on-stage reunion with Drake would deliver shock-and-awe to the halftime show, Rihanna can handle this one solo. The song’s catchy hook is all the singer needs to bring “Work” to life.
“Bi**h Better Have My Money”
When Rihanna is in her bada** bag, she’s often at her best. “Bi**h Better Have My Money” is just one example of a confident, unapologetic message that’s perfect for her grandiose return to the stage. “BBHMM” brings every element of Rihanna’s attitude and swagger in one song, and that energy is reflected in every line. Initially released in 2015, the song combines braggadocious lyrics with hypnotic production, co-produced by Kanye West, Travis Scott, and Wonda Gurl, for a stadium-ready banger.
One of Rihanna’s most commercially successful songs “Rude Boy” is a favorite song for fans of the new mom, as well as music fans in general. Incorporating different musical styles, the commanding track is performance ready. Released in 2015, “Rude Boy” peaked at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 for five consecutive weeks. The provocative song stands as one of Rihanna’s most distinct vocal performances and brings carefree, colorful energy at the first “aye.”
“Pon De Replay”
It would not be right for Rihanna to not include one of her softer throwbacks. “Pon De Replay” is the singer’s debut single and was the true start of the Fenty empire. True to her West Indian roots, the song perfectly balances dancehall and pop without losing either identity. Day-one fans of the Grammy Award-winning singer would appreciate a full-circle moment almost two decades in the making.
A Jeezy appearance at Super Bowl LVII would be a nice nod to Hip-Hop but either way, “Hard” is the perfect song for a sports event. Released in 2009, “Hard” was Rihanna’s turn to take charge and warn naysayers: “that Rihanna reign just won’t let up.” The self-assured lyrics, an equally braggadocious verse from the Atlanta-bred “Trap Star” and confident delivery are perfect for amped-up fans to champion their favorite team to a win.
Anthem would be the best way to describe “Needed Me” and NFL games are the perfect place for those, right? Featured on 2016’s Anti, the R&B song reminds a lost lover that Rihanna is the prize. When the song is played, everyone in earshot sings the “You needed me” hook with the passion of 10 bad breakups before simmering down for the equally intense yet more relaxed verses.
“Diamonds” is one of Rihanna’s most commercially successful and widely recognized songs. As one of the Barbados singer’s strongest vocal performances, the ballad is the perfect way to close the show. From her Unapologetic era, the chart-topping single shows a more delicate side of the pop star. The track could also be a cathartic sing-along. If fans can match Rihanna’s delivery, everyone can feel “Beautiful like diamonds in the sky,” win or lose.