When the Philadelphia Eagles made their first Super Bowl appearance in 1981 in New Orleans, the halftime show was a Mardi Gras celebration featuring the Southern University Marching Band.
1940s big band singer Helen O’Connell sang the national anthem. Up With People, the singing troupe known for their sickening positivity – Super Bowl staples of the era – thankfully took this year off.
On Sunday, when the Birds take on Kansas City in Super Bowl LVII in Glendale, Az., the entertainment will be a bit more ambitious.
Chris Stapleton, the bearded baritone who is the go-to country actor at high-profile TV events, will sing the national anthem. Babyface will tackle “America the Beautiful”. Philly’s Abbott Elementary School Star Sheryl Lee Ralph will perform “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” And Jason Derulo and the Black Keys will play the NFL’s TikTok Tailgate pregame show.
And of course, the halftime headliner is Rihanna. Singer and fashion boss Fenty is among the short list of high-profile artists whose pop cultural presence matches the stature of the game.
Even against the backdrop of mega acts like The Weeknd, who performed in 2021, or last year’s cast of hip-hop stars, Rihanna qualifies as a pretty good fit for “by far the biggest event ever.” culture of America”.
The 34-year-old singer, who topped the charts with 2006’s ‘SOS’ and followed it up the following year with ‘Umbrella’, has gone on to produce hit after hit across eight albums released in 11 years.
Gambling fans who are not satisfied with betting on the game itself have Ri Ri prop betting options. Will it open with “Diamonds”, “Bitch Better Have My Money” or “Don’t Stop The Music”? (Those are the three favorites.) Who will join her: Jay-Z? Duck? DJ Khaled? At some point, will she open an umbrella? Yes, you can bet on that too.
But while she has a decade of success to cram into a 12-15 minute performance, few will be of recent vintage. Since 2016’s album Creative Left Turn (although still hugely popular) AntiRihanna has practically stopped making music.
His only new music this decade has been “Believe It,” a 2020 guest vocal on a PartyNextDoor hit, and Chadwick Boseman’s soothing tribute “Lift Me Up” from last year’s soundtrack to Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Of course, she had a lot to do, like building the Fenty beauty empire, becoming a billionaire, being named Barbados’ “National Hero” and giving birth to a son (whose name she has yet to reveal). with her boyfriend A$AP Rocky last year.
There’s an added thrill to Rihanna being the Super Bowl halftime headliner. This is because, in the past, she has criticized the NFL.
In an expression of solidarity in 2019 with former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, she told Vogue she had no interest in the Super Bowl gig.
“I couldn’t dare to do that,” she said. “Why? Who benefits? Not my people. I just couldn’t be sold. not about to go and do them a favor in any way.
So what has changed? Does she get a giant check? No. Believe it or not, Super Bowl performers don’t get paid. (Although production costs that may exceed $10 million are covered by the NFL.)
Since Michael Jackson in 1993, megastars have played the halftime show. Big names have included Paul McCartney (in 2005 when the Eagles lost to the Patriots) and Prince (who, I hate to brag, I saw in person in 2007), as well as Madonna, Beyoncé, Bruce Springsteen, Lady Gaga and Justin Timberlake (when the Eagles beat the Patriots in 2018).
They played for free to receive something more valuable than money: exposure. For last year’s game, 99 million Americans watched, along with 109 million more worldwide. An estimated 120 million people across various media watched the halftime show featuring Dr. Dre, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, Snoop Dogg and Kendrick Lamar.
The Grammys aren’t music’s biggest night. The Super Bowl is. And among the wing-eaters watching the game, there will be millions of potential ticket buyers. A Super Bowl performance is usually followed by a tour announcement.
So, is this why Rihanna changed her mind about working with the NFL? Maybe, although last year she alerted fans that her album wasn’t finished.
“The Super Bowl is one thing. New music is another thing. Do you hear those fans?” she told The Associated Press, stifling expectations. Still, a tour announcement seems likely: Rihanna appears to be female businessman too shrewd to leave all that money in the field.
One big thing has changed since she bashed the NFL in 2019: Jay-Z has started working with the league.
As of 2021, Roc Nation, the hip-hop hub company, began producing the halftime show.
Like Shakira, who performed on the show with Jennifer Lopez that year, Rihanna is a Roc Nation client.
Rihanna’s comfort level working with an associate who signed her to a record deal in 2004 and teamed up on two smash hits — her “Umbrella,” her “Run This Town” — is obviously greater than if she had been asked to play by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, with whom she has a beef history.
Roc Nation has also partnered with the league through its Inspire Change program, in which teams reward social justice “changemakers.” (This year’s Eagles winner is Dr. Ruth Abaya, an emergency physician at CHOP who works on gun violence prevention.)
With Jay-Z working with the NFL on social justice initiatives, could this encourage Rihanna to incorporate some form of protest directed at the league which continues to draw criticism over issues like its poor hiring record? black coaches?
We will see. I haven’t seen any place where you can bet on it. But here are some Super Bowl halftime predictions. Jay-Z will definitely show up for “Umbrella” and “Run This Town.” A$AP Rocky and Drake will probably be there too. And at some point during her show seen around the world, Rihanna will get down on her knees.