Rihanna Talks ‘Biggest Challenge’ of Preparing for Super Bowl Halftime Show

Rihanna Super Bowl News Conference (Credit: Apple Music)

Rihanna dropped a few hints Thursday about what fans can expect from her upcoming performance at the Super Bowl LVII Halftime show.

The singer and entrepreneur happily chatted about her music, the difficulty in whittling down her set list, and the challenges of returning to the stage less than a year after giving birth in May 2022, to her son with rapper A$AP Rocky.

“The physical challenge has definitely been immense for many reasons, of course. I haven’t done this in a minute,” Rihanna said during the news conference held by Apple Music, the official sponsor of the halftime show.

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Even more difficult — deciding which songs to perform.

“The set list was the biggest challenge. That was the hardest, hardest part,” she said. “You’re trying to cram 17 years of work into 13 minutes, so it’s difficult. Some songs we have to lose because of that, and that’s gonna be okay, but I think we did a pretty good job of narrowing it down.”

She added that her team is currently rehearsing the 39th version of the set list, which includes music from her seven studio albums.

Despite the intense pressure that comes with performing at the Super Bowl, the Grammy-winning star told Apple Music host Nadeska Alexis she feels empowered after welcoming her son.

“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, and the Super Bowl is one of the biggest stages in the world,” Rihanna explained. “So, as scary as that was… there’s something exhilarating about the challenge of it all.”

Still, she said it’s taken so much work to prepare for her first live performance since 2017, that everything else has become a blur.

“I’ve been so focused on the Super Bowl, I totally forgot that my birthday’s coming up. I totally forgot about Valentine’s Day,” she said.

The Barbados native made sure not to reveal too much about her performance, but noted that it will include a nod to Black women and to her Caribbean culture.

“That’s a big part of why this is important for me to do this show — representation, representing for immigrants, representing for my country of Barbados, representing for Black women everywhere,” she said. “And I’m honored to be here. I’m honored to be doing this, this year.”

Before Rihanna takes the stage on Sunday, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Babyface will perform during the pre-show, and country music star Chris Stapleton will sing the National Anthem ahead of the big game.

Superbowl LVII will feature the Kansas City Chiefs vs. the Philadelphia Eagles. The game kicks off at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona at 3:30pm PT/6:30pm ET on Sunday, Feb. 12, 2023, and will air live on Fox.

Watch the news conference with Rihanna below.