By Steven McIntosh
Rihanna fans are eagerly anticipating her performance at the Super Bowl half-time show – one of the biggest and most prestigious gigs in music.
The singer will perform during the break when the Philadelphia Eagles take on the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
Rihanna has not toured or released an album since 2016’s Anti. The star has instead focused on her fashion brand, and last year welcomed her first child.
However, she did record a new song last year for Marvel’s Wakanda Forever.
Lift Me Up, which features on the soundtrack to the Black Panther sequel, marked Rihanna’s first new solo single for six years and has been nominated for an Oscar.
Fans hope that the 34-year-old’s Super Bowl performance could signal a bigger musical comeback later this year.
What time and where is the Super Bowl?
The Super Bowl is the annual final playoff game of the National Football League (NFL), to determine the league champion.
This year, the Philadelphia Eagles will face the Kansas City Chiefs at the State Farm Stadium in Arizona.
The Super Bowl LVII (the Roman numerals signify this is the 57th year) will take place on Sunday 12 February, with kick-off at 23:30 GMT (18:30 ET / 16:30 MST).
The game usually lasts about three-and-a-half hours, with a 30-minute break in the middle, which is where an A-list pop star is hired to keep the crowds entertained.
How to watch the Super Bowl
UK viewers can watch the game and half-time show live on ITV1 and the recently-launched streaming service ITVX, with coverage beginning at 22:45 GMT. It is also being shown on Sky Sports, starting at 22:00 GMT.
In the US, it will air on Fox, and also be streamed on the Fox Sports website and app, the NFL app, as well as Hulu, fuboTV, Roku TV and Sling TV.
Which songs will Rihanna perform?
Nobody knows for sure. Half-time show set lists and a performer’s special guests are shrouded in secrecy to ensure fans are surprised on the night.
But Rihanna should be able to squeeze quite a few of her many hits into the 14-minute set, particularly as performers often play only short snippets of some songs so they can cover more of their back catalogue.
Speculating about the possible song list is part of the fun for fans. Gossip outlet Deuxmoi quoted a source last week who suggested Rihanna would stick to her older, best-known hits, but added that the set list is being constantly tweaked and polished.
Half-time performers also often invite very special guests to appear alongside them. Coldplay brought out Beyoncé and Bruno Mars, while Katy Perry hosted Missy Elliott and Lenny Kravitz.
But the involvement of a guest can often result the most controversial moments of half-time shows, such as Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” and M.I.A.’s choice of hand gesture when she joined Madonna.
Why is the half-time show important?
Headlining the Super Bowl is one of the biggest and most prestigious gigs in music, due to the astronomically large TV audience both in the US and around the world.
About 100 million viewers watched last year’s Super Bowl in the US alone, while Dr. Dre, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Mary J Blige, Kendrick Lamar and 50 Cent’s half-time show added a further 160m views on YouTube.
In recent years, YouTube has become an increasingly important component of a half-time show’s impact. Shakira and Jennifer Lopez, who jointly headlined in 2020, notched up 264m plays of their set – the highest of any half-time show to date.
Other headliners at the Super Bowl over the years have included Lady Gaga, Prince, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen and Michael Jackson.
Given the number of viewers watching, a well-received and hit-heavy performance can have a huge impact on an artist’s streaming and sales figures in the weeks following the Super Bowl.
When is Rihanna’s next album out?
Rihanna’s return to live performing has prompted speculation that new music from her could finally be on the way.
The singer used to churn out one album a year, but took an extended break from music after 2016’s Anti, resurfacing only occasionally to work with other artists.
Her last genuinely massive hit was 2017’s Wild Thoughts, a collaboration with DJ Khaled and and Bryson Tiller, which the trio performed at the following year’s Grammy Awards.
Since then, she has had her first child with her partner A$AP Rocky and continued to build her fashion and cosmetics brand Fenty.
As a result. music has taken a back seat, but in 2022 she released her first new solo single for six years, Lift Me Up.
That has catapulted Rihanna into this year’s film awards season. She attended the Golden Globes last month, where the track was nominated, and she is also up for best original song at the Oscars on 12 March.
Her absence from the world of music has lasted so long, the huge anticipation for her new album has become something of a running joke.
“I’m going to say something very controversial,” he said. “Rihanna, you take all the time you want on that album girl. Don’t let these fools on the internet pressure you into nothing.”