By Daniel Kreps
The Super Bowl LVII halftime show in Glendale, Arizona has revealed its headliner: Rihanna, in her first live performance in over five years.
The NFL, Rihanna, Roc Nation and new halftime show sponsor Apple Music all announced Sunday that the singer would lead the most high-profile 15-minute performance in music on Feb. 12, 2023 at State Farm Stadium.
The Super Bowl 57 halftime show would mark Rihanna’s first public performance in over five years, as the singer last appeared onstage at the 2018 Grammy Awards to perform “Wild Thoughts” with DJ Khaled.
Rihanna twice previously turned down the Super Bowl halftime shows, in 2018 and 2019, in solidarity with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was all but blacklisted from the NFL after taking a knee for the National Anthem in protest of racial injustice and police brutality during the 2016 season.
“I couldn’t dare do that. For what?” Rihanna told Vogue in 2019 of turning down the halftime shows. “Who gains from that? Not my people. I just couldn’t be a sellout. I couldn’t be an enabler. There’s things within that organization that I do not agree with at all, and I was not about to go and be of service to them in any way.”
However, since then, production on the Super Bowl show was been taken over by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, who Rihanna signed with and remains with since 2014.
“Rihanna is a generational talent, a woman of humble beginnings who has surpassed expectations at every turn,” Jay-Z said in a statement Sunday. “A person born on the small island of Barbados who became one of the most prominent artists ever. Self-made in business and entertainment.”
Rihanna last released her acclaimed Anti in 2016; the Super Bowl announcement will surely stoke fans’ anticipation for the singer’s long, long-in-the-works ninth studio album, or R9 as the Rihanna Navy calls it.
The announcement comes just days after it was reported that Taylor Swift was the favorite to perform at the 2023 halftime show; however, soon after, it was reported that Swift declined an invitation to take the stage at the Big Game, reportedly opting instead to focus on her own projects.
The 2023 Super Bowl halftime show is the first sponsored by Apple Music, who signed a new multi-year partnership with the NFL after Pepsi’s 10-year sponsorship ended. Super Bowl LVII will air on Fox.
IT'S ON.@rihanna will take the stage for the first ever Apple Music Super Bowl Halftime Show on 2.12.23. #SBLVII @NFL @NFLonFOX @RocNation pic.twitter.com/Kz1YY19zAA
“Rihanna is an incredible recording artist who is a favorite for many millions of Apple Music customers around the world,” Oliver Schusser, Apple’s vice president of Apple Music and Beats, said in a statement. “We’re excited to partner with Rihanna, Roc Nation and the NFL to bring music and sports fans a momentous show — what an incredible artist for the inaugural Apple Music Super Bowl Halftime Show.”
The NFL added, “Rihanna is a once in a generation artist who has been a cultural force throughout her career. We look forward to collaborating with Rihanna, Roc Nation and Apple Music to bring fans another historic Halftime Show performance.”
The Jay-Z-founded Roc Nation began co-producing the Super Bowl Halftime Show in 2020 with Shakira and Jennifer Lopez co-headlining SBLIV in Miami, a performance that also featured Bad Bunny and J Balvin. The Weeknd headlined Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Florida in 2021, followed by Dr. Dre’ West Coast blowout with Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent and Mary J. Blige in 2022.
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