By Terrance Turner
Sept. 25, 2022
Rihanna is headlining the Super Bowl halftime show next year. “Rihanna has signed on to perform at the mega-event, which is set to take place during Super Bowl LVII Feb. 12 just outside of Phoenix, Arizona,” according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Rihanna confirmed the news via Instagram.
The news comes as a surprise. Rihanna twice previously turned down the Super Bowl halftime shows in 2018 and 2019. According to Rolling Stone, she did so in solidarity with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who was all but blacklisted from the NFL after taking a knee during the National Anthem to protest 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.”
But since then, production on the Super Bowl show was taken over by Roc Nation, who Rihanna signed with in 2014. Roc Nation founder Jay-Z, who signed Rihanna, praised her in a statement. “Rihanna is a generational talent, a woman of humble beginnings who has surpassed expectations at every turn. A person born on the small island of Barbados who became one of the most prominent artists ever. Self-made in business and entertainment,” Jay-Z said.
This will be Rihanna’s first live performance in nearly five years. (She last took the stage to perform “Wild Thoughts” at the 2018 Grammy Awards.) And it’s been six years since her last album, 2016’s Anti. More recently, Rihanna has focused on motherhood (she welcomed a baby boy with rapper ASAP Rocky earlier this year) and her makeup/skincare brand, Fenty Beauty.
Rihanna was inspired to create Fenty Beauty after years of experimenting with the best in beauty and still seeing a void in the industry for products that performed across all skin types and tones. So Rihanna developed a new brand with French luxury conglomerate Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey.
Starting with Fenty Beauty foundation, face primer (to smooth the way for better foundation application), and a “Gloss Bomb”, she launched the line “so that people everywhere would be included”. The goal was creating formulas that work for all skin types and pinpointing universal shades. It launched with 40 (and later 50) different shades of foundation, 30 shades of makeup sticks, six highlighter shades, and lip gloss (per Buzzfeed News).
The music star launched her line on September 8, 2017 at Sephora in Times Square. And the products went on sale online in 150 countries that morning, per Fortune. They became available in Sephora stores across the U.S. later that day. (In the UK, Fenty launched in Harvey Nichols department stores.) At the Fenty launch in one Sephora location in New York, the Barbadian singer explained her approach:
“It was really important for me in every product. I was like, ‘There needs to be something for a dark skinned girl; there needs to be something for a really pale girl; there needs to be [something] for someone in between. And there are so many different shades: there’s red undertones, there’s green undertones, there’s blue undertones, there’s pink undertones, there’s yellow,” she said. “You want people to appreciate the product and not feel like, ‘Aw, that’s cute, but it only looks good on her.’”
“Fenty Beauty is for everyone,” she told The Times of London two days after the launch. “All skin tones and races.”
Fenty Beauty recorded $72 million in earned media value, which is the dollar value marketers give to word-of-mouth publicity. By this measure, Fenty Beauty beat out more established labels including NYX and Urban Decay. According to the Guardian, Fenty Beauty was Harvey Nichols’ biggest beauty launch ever; one bottle of foundation was sold every minute. Lip gloss sold every three minutes. Forbes added that Fenty Beauty generated an estimated $570 million in revenue after only 15 months in business.
The success of Fenty Beauty — a diverse makeup brand launched by a Black woman — broke new ground in the industry, sparking important conversations about diversity and inclusion. Now, Rihanna is returning to the music industry that made her famous. And she’s doing it on one of the world’s biggest stages — the Super Bowl.
The Super Bowl Halftime Show is one of the biggest musical events of the year. Performers typically go all-out for their performances. Guest appearances are a common occurrence, per THR. 2023 will also mark the first year that Apple Music will be the presenting sponsor of the event. Apple’s taking over Pepsi, which had sponsored the show for the last decade. Apple is promising behind-the-scenes previews and other content ahead of the big game on Feb. 12.
Rihanna has reportedly recorded music for the soundtrack of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. And a new teaser from Marvel Studios seems to confirm that. The video features the words ‘Wakanda Forever’ in glittering letters. And as the letters start to fade away, a lone “R” moves to the center. Underneath is the release date: Oct. 28, 2022.
The song’s called “Lift Me Up”. Rihanna co-wrote the song with Tems, producer Ludwig Göransson, and director Ryan Coogler. According to a press release, they wrote the single “as a tribute to the extraordinary life and legacy of Chadwick Boseman,” the star of the first Black Panther film. He died of colon cancer in 2020 at age 43.
In a press statement, Tems said, “After speaking with Ryan and hearing his direction for the film and the song, I wanted to write something that portrays a warm embrace from all the people that I’ve lost in my life. I tried to imagine what it would feel like if I could sing to them now and express how much I miss them.” She continued, “Rihanna has been an inspiration to me so hearing her convey this song is a great honor.”
The Black Panther: Wakanda Forever soundtrack comes out Friday.
UPDATE (10/27/22): The song is out.
“Lift me up, hold me down/Keep me safe, safe and sound,” Rihanna sings. “Burning in a hopeless dream/Hold me when you go to sleep/Keep me in the warmth of your love when you depart/Keep me safe, safe and sound.”