Rihanna changed Super Bowl halftime setlist 39 times to get ‘weird’
Rihanna won’t stop the music.
Rihanna’s Super Bowl halftime show will be her first time performing live on stage in seven years — and she’s given a sneak peek into what her fans can expect.
The 34-year-old artist and fashionista shared that she changed the setlist 39 times leading up to the big event.
“Every little change counts, whether I want, like, a guitar cut out, something muted, something added, or just put in a whole new song, or take out a whole song,” Rihanna during a press conference with Apple Music. “Every time I make a change, something has to be updated and that’s a new version.”
Rihanna is expected to feature many of her greatest hits in her highly anticipated performance, though the singer expressed how difficult it was to put together a setlist that represents her entire discography and also sticks to the 13-minute set time.
“That was the hardest, hardest part — deciding how to maximize 13 minutes but also celebrate. 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,” the singer said. “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.”
The “Umbrella” singer hasn’t released an album since “ANTI” in 2016, which she said was her “top favorite album I’ve ever made.”
She confessed that her last album “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 now Rihanna is working on new music — something everyone was been anxiously awaiting — and told Apple Music that she’s “exploring” a new direction.
“Musically, I’m feeling open. 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, the people that know the music that I put out,” Rihanna shared. “But I just wanna play it. I want to have fun. I want to have fun with music.”
When it comes to the timing of her big Super Bowl performance, the singer believes it “could have only been now.”
Rihanna welcomed her first child with A$AP Rocky in May 2022 and credited motherhood for being part of the reason she agreed to perform.
“When I first got the call to do it again this year, I was like, [hisses] ‘You sure?’ I’m three months postpartum. Should I be making major decisions like this right now? I might regret this,” she admitted.
“But when you become a mom, there’s something that just happens where you feel like you can take on the world. 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 … It’s important for my son to see that,” she continued.
Though she’s excited about it, Rihanna said she is facing “immense” physical challenges with performing again.
“You’re just running around for 13 minutes, trying to put like a two-hour set for 13 minutes,” she explained. “And you’re gonna see on Sunday, from the time it starts, it just never ends until the very last second. I know I’m saying too much, but it’s a jam-packed show.”
The singer also shared that her halftime show will also be about “representing for immigrants, representing for my country, Barbados, representing for black women everywhere … I’m really excited to have Barbados on the Super Bowl stage.”
Rihanna shared that her upbringing has allowed her to stay humble.
“My humility came from my childhood, growing up in the Caribbean, growing up in my household with my mom. She’s a very humble woman, her mom was a very humble woman. And I’ve never lost sight of that,” she shared. “I often fear the pedestal that the world can put you on, and I always want to feel my feet on the ground. That makes me feel safe.”
The Super Bowl airs Sunday, Feb. 12, on Fox.