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Opinion: Rihanna wins the Super Bowl with simplicity

On the evening of Sunday, Feb. 12, students gathered in Dave’s Boathouse for a Super Bowl Watch Party. Silence erupted the minute Rihanna took the stage, and some students even shushed each other. It was clear that football was not the main draw. 

According to Fox Sports, viewership during the half-time show was 118.7 million, compared to 113 million during the actual football game, making it the second most-viewed Super Bowl halftime show.  

Rihanna was originally offered the halftime show back in 2019, but she turned it down in support of former quarterback Colin Kaepernick after he was ousted from the NFL for kneeling during the national anthem as a statement against racism. 

The nearly 14-minute set highlighted 18 years of Rihanna’s hits, which is no easy task since the singer has more number-one hits than she had minutes to perform. 

The show, sponsored by Apple Music, utilized seven LED-lit platforms suspended in the air. 

The singer, who has not released an album since 2016, sported an all-red outfit, which was used to reveal that the 34-year-old singer is already three months pregnant with a second child; her first, with A$AP Rocky, was born in May 2022. 

Surrounded by an army of dancers all wearing white, Rihanna performed songs ranging from “B**ch Better Have My Money” to “Rude Boy.” 

The performance was the singer’s first time on stage since the 2018 Grammys. The performance contained no special guests, despite including collaborations with Jay-Z, Kanye West, and DJ Khalid. 

Despite the lyrics “Money on my mind” in the song “Pour it Up,” Rihanna was not paid for her performance, but it’s not like she needs the money. Rihanna has a net worth of an estimated $1.4 billion, which comes in part from owning 50% of Fenty Beauty, her $270 million company. 

The Super Bowl halftime show is a sacred piece of American culture and often entails the sexualization of the female body. The performance was described by Donald Trump as an “epic fail.” The ex-president continued to critique what he called “the single worst Halftime Show in Super Bowl history.” 

While the performance has been labeled by some as “underwhelming,” Rihanna is the second best-selling female music artist of all time, which means her body of work should be able to speak for itself—no left shark or special guests needed. 

When the performance ended, I heard groans from the students in Dave’s Boathouse. I thought this meant they did not like it, until I heard someone say: “It’s over already?” 

Cara Delevingne’s shirt said it best: “Rihanna concert interrupted by a football game, weird but whatever.” 

Is there really any cause to complain? She may have left off a few of our favorite songs (cough cough “S&M”), but she delivered an unforgettable performance of “Umbrella.” What more could we ask for… besides maybe an album?

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