Rihanna surprised the world when she announced in September 2022 that she would be the headlining performer at the Super Bowl LVII halftime show in February 2023. Many artists have an album ready to go when they take the stage at the Super Bowl, and fans have been clamoring for a new album from Rihanna since her 2016 LP Anti. But Rihanna herself debunked rumors and presumptions that she agreed to do the halftime show because her long-awaited ninth studio album will be released shortly after the show.
Rihanna is performing at the 2023 Super Bowl halftime show
Rihanna confirmed that she’s performing at the Super Bowl halftime show with an Instagram post simply showing her hand holding a football. Her decision to headline the big show is a stark reversal from her position just a few years ago. In a 2019 interview with Vogue, she admitted that she turned down performing at the Super Bowl halftime show that year (which was instead headlined by Maroon 5) because of the NFL’s treatment of former quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
“I couldn’t dare do that. For what?” she said of her decision to pass on the show at the time. “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.”
Roc Nation, Jay-Z’s record label and entertainment agency to which Rihanna is signed, took over production of the Super Bowl after the Maroon 5 show. Since then, the halftime show has highlighted performers from various backgrounds, from Shakira and Jennifer Lopez to the 2022 ode to hip-hop featuring Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Eminem, and Kendrick Lamar.
She isn’t performing at the Super Bowl because there’s a new album attached to it
In an interview with the Associated Press at her Savage X Fenty Vol. 4 premiere, Rihanna explained her new position on the halftime show as a matter of timing, having just become a mother earlier this year. “It was a challenge that I welcomed,” she said of the show. “It was a stage bigger than anything I’ve ever done.”
When asked if she was performing at the show because she was gearing up to release an album in the aftermath, she stated plainly that that wasn’t the case. “That’s not true. Super Bowl is one thing, new music is another thing,” she said. “Do you hear that, fans? Because I knew, the second I announced this, they’re gonna think my album is coming.”
“I need to get work,” she continued. “But I do have new music coming out. But we’ll see. Unrelated, but a special project.”
In recent years, several artists have released albums in the months following their performances at the Super Bowl. In 2020, special guest Bad Bunny released his breakout sophomore album YHLQMDLG a few weeks after the show. 2021 headliner The Weeknd released his album Dawn FM in early 2022. And in 2022, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, and Kendrick Lamar all released albums after the Super Bowl.
Rihanna’s reemergence for the Super Bowl
2022 has been a whirlwind year for Rihanna in the public eye. In January, she and A$AP Rocky announced their pregnancy with a simple walk around New York City as Rih showed off her growing baby bump. The Barbados-born singer gave birth to her first child, a son, in May.
She largely laid low in the months after giving birth, but reminded the world she exists — and that she’s still a dedicated performer — when she announced her Super Bowl stint in September. During the busy time of new motherhood, she still found time to conceptualize and film another edition of her annual Savage X Fenty fashion show, which debuted on Prime Video in November. Meanwhile, her Fenty Beauty cosmetics line has continued to release new products.