There was a long-awaited Rihanna concert Sunday night (and some football).
The singer took the stage at the 2023 Super Bowl in Arizona for her first live performance in five years, belting out a powerhouse medley of some of her greatest hits from a stunning arrangement of floating stages above the field. She performed the hits without any guest appearances ― which had been the subject of much speculation ― alongside an enormous crew of backup dancers clad in white puffer tracksuits.
Suspended in the air, Rihanna started out the set with “Bitch Better Have My Money,” and floated between ground and sky for renditions of “Where Have You Been,” “Only Girl in the World,” “We Found Love,” “Rude Boy,” “Work,” “Wild Thoughts,” “Pour it Up,” “All of the Lights,” “Run This Town” and “Umbrella,” finishing with “Diamonds.”
Watch the full performance from the 10:20 mark below.
The Grammy winner set social media afire in September when she announced that she’d be headlining the 2023 Super Bowl halftime show, breaking what felt to fans like an interminable hiatus from music. Weeks later, she dropped her first solo release in six years, “Lift Me Up,” as the lead single for the soundtrack of “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.” The track has since earned the singer-songwriter her first Oscar nomination.
Sunday’s performance marked her first time on the stage since the 2018 Grammys, when she belted out her DJ Khaled collaboration “Wild Thoughts.” Fans have been champing at the bit for new music since her eighth studio album “Anti” in 2016.
It’s not like she hasn’t been busy in the interim, though. Since 2017, the 34-year-old has launched her wildly successful Fenty Beauty empire, introduced her lingerie brand Savage X Fenty and starred in the 2018 movie “Ocean’s 8,” to name a few projects. In July, Forbes named her the youngest self-made female billionaire in the country, with an estimated net worth of $1.4 billion.
To top all that off, she also became a mom, welcoming a baby boy with her partner, rapper A$AP Rocky, in May last year.
In a media preview Thursday, Rihanna said she was initially unsure about taking on the halftime show, and making such a major decision while she was three months postpartum.
“But when you become a mom, there’s something that just happens where you feel like you can take on the world, you can do anything,” she said. “The Super Bowl is one of the biggest stages of the world. As scary as that was, because I hadn’t been on stage in seven years, there’s something exhilarating about the challenge of it all.”
The 2023 show follows last year’s groundbreaking hip-hop extravaganza with rap legends Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem and Mary J. Blige. The Weeknd gave a memorable (and meme-able) performance in 2021 and pop icons Shakira and Jennifer Lopez fired up the stage with an electrifying set in 2020.