PHOENIX — Rihanna has been putting in the work, work, work, work, work, work to prepare for a return to the stage at the halftime show for Super Bowl LVII between the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
The 34-year-old star was open and revealing about the process of putting on the 13-minute performance, her first of any kind in seven years, during a press conference Thursday at the Phoenix Convention Center. Rihanna said she didn’t sleep on Wednesday night after spending long hours at State Farm Stadium during a rehearsal.
“I kind of just stayed there, ended up in a prep, and somehow I’m here at a press conference right now,” Rihanna said while sitting on a couch on stage.
She was scheduled to have a “really important” rehearsal on Thursday, which she added will be crucial for Sunday’s show.
Rihanna has been dialed in for her long-awaited return to the stage.
“I’ve been so focused on the Super Bowl, I totally forgot that my birthday is coming up,” she said of her Feb. 20th birthday. “I totally forgot about Valentine’s Day. I am just like Super Bowl, Super Bowl, Super Bowl.
“So it’s a lot of preparation, a lot of moving parts and this is the week that it, it really is being tested.”
One of the toughest parts of planning the show, Rihanna said, was determining the set list. She has 13 minutes to encapsulate 17 years worth of songs.
“There are probably about 39 versions of the set list right now,” she said. “Oh yeah, I think we’re on our 39th. I mean, every little change counts, whether I want, like, a guitar cutout, something muted, something added, or just put in a whole new song or take out a whole song. Like every time I make a change, something has to be updated, and that’s a new version.”
When Rihanna was asked to do the halftime show three months after having her son with ASAP Rocky in May 2022, she wasn’t sure if she should be making such an important decision so close to giving birth, to the point that she thought she might regret it.
“When you become a mom, there’s something that just happens where you feel like you could take on the world, you can do anything,” Rihanna said. “And 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, and it’s important for me to do this this year.
“It’s important for representation, it’s important for my son to see that.”
Rihanna also wanted to do the halftime show as a way to represent her Caribbean roots on an international stage.
“That’s a big part of why this is important for me to do this show: representation, representing for immigrants, representing for my country, Barbados, representing for black women everywhere,” she said. “I think that’s really important. That’s key for people to see the possibilities and I’m honored to be here. I’m honored to be doing this this year.”
Another challenge Rihanna faced as she prepared for the halftime show was the physicality of a 13-minute performance.
“The physical challenge has definitely been immense for many reasons, of course,” she said. “I haven’t done this in a minute. That was first. First things first. So, you’re just running around for 13 minutes trying to put like a two-hour set in 13 minutes and, you’re gonna see on Sunday, from the time it starts, it just never ends until it’s like the very last second.
“I know I’m saying too much but it’s a jam-packed [show]. It takes a toll on your body. It does.”
However, Rihanna stressed that once she agreed to do the show, she was going to go all in.
“When you make decisions on what you’re going to say yes to, it has to be worth it,” she said.