Rihanna on What to Expect From Her Super Bowl Halftime Show—and Why She’s Doing It For Her Son

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This Sunday, Rihanna will perform at the Super Bowl Halftime Show, her first performance in years. And while she didn’t address whether or not she would be dropping any new album during her interview today with Apple Music’s Nadeska Alexis ahead of the game-time show, she did share what to expect…and how motherhood tied into her decision to go big in her music career right now. Rihanna’s son will turn one this May.

Regarding the timing, Rihanna, dressed impeccably in Alaïa, said, “It feels like it could have only been now. I mean, when I first got the call to do it again this year, I was like, ‘Psst, you sure?’ I’m three months postpartum, like, should I be making major decisions like this now? Like I might regret this. But when you become a mom, there’s something that just happens where you feel like you could take on the world, you could do anything. And the Super Bowl is one of the biggest stages in the world. So as scary as that was because I haven’t been on stage in seven years, there’s something exhilarating about the challenge of it all. And it’s important for me to do this this year. It’s important for representation, it’s important for my son to see that.”

rihanna at the super bowl press conference

Mike Lawrie//Getty Images

rihanna at the super bowl halftime show press conference

Jeff Kravitz//Getty Images

The performance will be 13 minutes long, Rihanna revealed, saying that choosing what songs made the cut hasn’t been easy. “That was the hardest, hardest part—deciding how to maximize 13 minutes but also celebrate,” she started, via Billboard. “That’s what this show’s gonna be. It’s gonna be a celebration of my catalog in the best way that we could have put it together. You’re trying to cram 17 years of work into 13 minutes…but I think we did a pretty good job of narrowing it down. There were probably about 39 version of the setlist right now. We’re on our 39th. Every little change counts, whether I want a guitar cut out, something muted, something added or just put in a whole new song, or take out a whole song.”

Rihanna did not reveal what songs she’d be performing, but she did share her favorites from her discography, which may offer some hints. “Okay, I really enjoyed recording Loud and ‘Diamonds,’” she said. “I was on the road for both of those albums when I created them. I was touring one album, making the next, and then I came back and toured that album and made the next, and then ANTI was the first time that I took my time making an album while not being on tour. And that frustrated my fans a bit, and here I am doing it again to them. But ANTI, for sure, top favorite album I’ve ever made.”

Musically now, Rihanna is in a place of exploration. “I’m feeling open to exploring, discovering, creating, things that are new, things that are different, things that are off, weird, might not ever make sense to my fans, you know, the people that know the music that I put out,” she said. “I just want to play. I want to have fun. I want to have fun with music.”

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Alyssa Bailey

Senior News and Strategy Editor

Alyssa Bailey is the senior news and strategy editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage of celebrities and royals (particularly Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton). She previously held positions at InStyle and Cosmopolitan. When she’s not working, she loves running around Central Park, making people take #ootd pics of her, and exploring New York City.

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