What the internet predicted for Rihanna’s Super Bowl 2023 halftime performance vs what we got

By Charlie Sawyer

Updated Feb 13, 2023 at 12:48 PM

Reading time: 3 minutes

If you were to say the words ‘Super Bowl’ to me, I probably wouldn’t even flicker an inch of interest. In fact, there’s a high likelihood that I’d pretend not to hear you and begin a new conversation about the recent and highly controversial Glee documentary. However, if you were to say ‘Super Bowl halftime show’, I’d likely chuck my Diet Coke out of the window, jump five feet into the air with excitement, and subsequently hunker down to begin a heated debate.

Some of the most prolific and adored artists across the world have performed midway through the annual NFL playoff. Jennifer Lopez, Lady Gaga, Shakira, U2, Madonna, Beyoncé—the list goes on. And now, everyone’s favourite bad gal is about to take the stage. Rihanna’s highly anticipated performance (taking place on 12 February 2023) has been dominating gen Zers’ brains and FYPs for the past month and it’s a topic I can’t wait to dive into.

That is, of course, unless the conversation segues into defending Justin Timberlake and that infamous Janet Jackson nip slip in 2004… in which case I’ll need to excuse myself. Wardrobe malfunctions aside, the halftime show is truly iconic and netizens have been taking it upon themselves to predict everything regarding Rihanna’s performance: her setlist, outfit choices, potential guest features, and overarching theme.

We were given a small teaser on 9 February when Rihanna took part in an interview during the Apple Music Super Bowl LVII Halftime Show Press Conference. The singer spoke of how she’d changed the setlist 39 times during the pre-show preparations but naturally refused to give any major spoilers away.

She did however stress how one of her main focuses for the show was representation for her home country of Barbados, for immigrants and for black women everywhere. The artist stated: “It’s key for people to see the possibilities.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xW-Sbkk8gm4

So, with so much still in the air surrounding the performance, we’ve tallied up some of the most interesting—and far-fetched—theories surrounding the Savage X Fenty CEO’s Sunday spectacular.

What songs will Rihanna perform at the Super Bowl?

One of the most exciting aspects of Rihanna’s performance being debated online is her setlist. Will she open with the quintessential ‘Umbrella’? Will she go slightly rogue and start with ‘Diamonds’? And even more importantly, will her set include song of the century ‘Pon de Replay’?

Some users began flooding TikTok with their dream line up and, I have to say, there’s some impressive contenders.

@gamingsociety21

Hey Mister DJ #Rihanna #halftime #superbowl #halftimeshow #pondereplay #music #applemusic #sportsbettingtiktok #nfl #football #flyeaglesfly #chiefsnation

♬ original sound - Gaming Society

One of the most viral takes has come from TikTok creator Gaming Society. The self-described “sports betting content house” has seemingly created a “three golden rules” system which has accurately predicted the Super Bowl setlists of seven past performers.

These rules include: “they never start with new stuff,” “they always start with a banger not a ballad,” and finally, “the opening song needs to be immediately discernible by the first beat.”

Now, these guidelines make a lot of sense. And other netizens began jumping onboard, immediately agreeing that if Rihanna begins her set with the first few notes of ‘Lift Me Up’—her single from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever—the stadium would revolt.

Will Rihanna have a surprise guest at the Super Bowl?

Next up is the matter of whether or not the ‘Please Don’t Stop the Music’ singer will be joined on stage by another pop icon. It’s safe to say that the world pretty much exploded in 2020 when Shakira and Jennifer Lopez joined forces during their halftime show. In fact, according to data analysts at Online casinos, the performance amassed 264 million YouTube views which could’ve had a potential earning of £404,657.

So, naturally fans are suspecting another colossal collaboration. Some have surmised that Nicki Minaj must’ve missed out on the 2023 Grammy awards because she was saving her energy for the Super Bowl.

Others are holding out hope for a repeat of Alyssa Edwards and Tatianna’s iconic rendition of ‘Shut Up and Drive’ from season one of RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars. If you know, you know.

https://twitter.com/itsivandm/status/1623766713207513089

Whatever Rihanna ends up doing on Sunday—it’s sure to be a memorable performance. And if she happens to do an entire medley made up completely of tracks from her album Good Girl Gone Bad, let’s just say, it’ll be an incredibly happy day for us all.

Post Super Bowl update: What did Rihanna end up performing?

First things first, Rihanna kicked off her set with ‘Bitch Better Have My Money’ and a baby bump reveal:

@espn

This entrance was 🔥 (via @nfl) #rihanna #superbowl

♬ original sound - ESPN

She then stunned fans with her dance moves while she performed ‘Wild Thoughts’:

@1824official

WILD WILD WILD WILD WILD WILD THOUGGGHTTTSSS 🔥🏈 #wildthoughtssuperbowl #superbowlliv #superbowlhalftimeshow #rihannasuperbowl2023

♬ original sound - 1824

Meanwhile, we got to see proud daddy A$AP Rocky fangirl over Rihanna’s iconic performance:

@entertainmenttonight

A$AP Rocky is Rihanna's biggest fan #halftimeshow #superbowl #rihannahalftimeshow

♬ original sound - Entertainment Tonight - Entertainment Tonight

Last but certainly not least, Rihanna concluded her Super Bowl set with ‘Diamonds’:

 

@espn

This angle is incredible 👏 (via @nfl) #rihanna #superbowl #nfl #halftimeshow

♬ original sound - ESPN

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