The “Only Girl in the World” Returns to the Stage: A Review of Rihanna’s Super Bowl LVII Performance


Tia Trinh

Arts & Entertainment Co-Editor 

Dim the lights, cue the spotlight. Rihanna stood on a hanging platform, hair slicked back into a ponytail in an all red outfit as she lifted the microphone to her mouth and kick-started her Super Bowl LVII performance with her iconic song, “Bitch Better Have My Money.”

Robyn Rihanna Fenty was a highly anticipated performer for this year’s Super Bowl halftime show. Most commonly known by her stage name, Rihanna, the performer had not gone on tour since 2016. With classic hits like “Umbrella,” “Love on the Brain,” and “Only Girl (In the World)” many fans, including myself, tried to guess two things: which songs were on the setlist and which song would she kick off her return performance with. 

As the New York Post reported, this was her first performance since 2018 and since she gave birth to her and rapper A$AP Rocky’s son in May 2022. Her last album Anti released in 2016, rose to popularity and stayed for over a year on the Billboard 200. 

Featuring some of her most popular songs that she also played on her Super Bowl setlist, Forbes noted that “Anti debuted at No. 27 on the Billboard 200… though it blasted to No. 1 in its second week.” 

Despite not having released any recent music (except a song for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”), her music has remained widely popular and continues to stay on the charts well after release.

During her time away from the music industry, Rihanna has worked in fashion and makeup, her lingerie and makeup brands becoming an instant sensation. Her work with these companies was seen as she took a quick “makeup check” break in between songs at the Super Bowl to promote her makeup line, Fenty Beauty. 

For all of the celebrities that were spotted at the sporting event, and made comments, Adele’s might just be one of the most amusing. The British award-winning singer-songwriter has had memes taken of her striking facial expressions and actions and, after fans tried to decipher what she had said before Rihanna took the stage, Adele spoke to Buzzfeed about her comments. 

According to the interview, Adele explained “I was saying, she’s gonna be fine… She’s gonna have some weed and be fine… But clearly she couldn’t have any weed because she was pregnant!” Said all in good fun, it just shows how shocked everyone was over the confirmation of Rihanna’s pregnancy.

Many critics of her performance claimed that Rihanna’s show was lackluster and could not compare to past performances. However, as cameras panned over her figure and viewers got a closer look, the debate over whether or not Rihanna was pregnant blew up across social media. Many watchers began tweeting, texting, and even making TikToks about the possibility that Rihanna might be pregnant again.

In an interview with a CBS reporter, Rihanna teased, “I’m thinking about bringing someone, I’m not sure. We’ll see.” 

Following this comment, many fans began speculating which artist(s) she might bring out on stage. A$AP Rocky was a popular guess because of the romantic relationship the two shared. But as the set continued to run, there was no sign of a guest performer, until cameras continuously panned over Rihanna’s figure to hint at a baby bump spilling out of her unzipped red jacket. Rihanna later confirmed the news to The Hollywood Reporter, and her pregnancy announcement was ultimately a pleasant surprise that added onto the excitement over her performance.

Rihanna’s red look was a stark contrast to the marshmallow-like dancers in the background. They performed on the platforms on the field as well as hanging platforms that moved in tandem with the performance. Choreographed by the legendary Royal Family Dance Crew, many fans were delighted to see the amount of smooth choreographed dance in the performance itself, as well as behind-the-scenes footage that was posted on TikTok. 

With songs like “Work,” “Wild Thoughts,” and “Umbrella” gracing the setlist, fans and casual watchers alike were familiar with Rihanna’s music and appeal. In classic fashion, every one of her movements was smooth and carefully choreographed. At the end of her set, she rose higher in the sky, on a noticeably shaky platform, whilst singing “Diamonds.” The audience waved lights back and forth and she ended her spectacular performance as fireworks erupted in the sky.

It remains an indisputable fact that Rihanna’s music will remain popular and ever-lasting. Whether you were lying on your own couch, or that of a friend’s during the actual events of the Super Bowl game, Rihanna’s performance truly had fans impressed and shocked at her reveal. Perhaps she still has more surprises in store for her fans.