13 guests Rihanna could bring to her Super Bowl LVII halftime show
Today marks less than a week until a new pivotal moment in the Rihannaissance: the Barbadian pop star’s Super Bowl LVII halftime show. It’s been far more than a minute since Rihanna took the stage (let alone released a project): in fact, she hasn’t performed at a major event since the Grammys in 2018. But with time to miss her and time to spare, there’s been plenty of time to mull over one question: how exactly will she make her big return to an arena-sized spotlight?
The easier to bet on question: who will she make it with? Back in September, TMZ reported that Rihanna was choosing from a list of 50+ potential collaborators while putting together her performance, with names like Jay-Z, Drake, and Paul McCartney thrown into the ring. With speculation in the air and only three days until Sunday, let’s get to work and break down the possibilities.
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1. A$AP Rocky
A$AP Rocky - Fashion Killa (Explicit - Official Video)
So they only have two songs together… so what! Rihanna’s partner (and father of her young son) has been vocal about his excitement for her big night, and it could mark his first Super Bowl appearance. This would without a doubt fit the bill for a crowd-pleaser, and they’ve shared major (if not as major) stages in the past. Years before their relationship, the duo sang Rihanna’s “Cockiness (Love It)“ at the 2012 MTV Music Video Awards, a performance in which Rocky notoriously groped Rihanna onstage (an extremely eugh moment that could just maybe earn some redemption now).
2. Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj - Fly ft. Rihanna
With no Nicki Minaj to be found in the Grammys’ roaring 50th-anniversary hip-hop tribute, Barbs are starved for some sort of elaborate performance from their Queen, and a SB LVII link up seems like the perfect opportunity. Nicki’s still a divisive figure, but there’s nothing divisive about “Fly,” quite possibly the song across all of Rihanna’s solo and feature projects that best befits the Super Bowl. So it’s not technically a Rihanna song—who cares? Who in Glendale, Arizona this weekend won’t have come to win, to fly?
Although rumor has it Ri won’t focus too much on tracks from Anti, her and SZA sound so good together on “Consideration.” Even if they don’t perform an official collaboration, why rule out the possibility of Solana jumping on that final “Disturbia” harmony? That’s the stuff internet dreams are made of.
Rihanna - What’s My Name? ft. Drake
From “What’s My Name” to “Work,” Rihanna and Drake have cleaned up musically in the past (and fueled some exceedingly one-sided romantic rumors). It’s well-documented just how much Drake loves the NBA— it seems unlikely he’d pass up an opportunity to both become pro-football adjacent and stand close to Rihanna. Bonus points if he wears the ‘Previous Engagements’ necklace.
Rihanna - Umbrella (Orange Version) (Official Music Video) ft. JAY-Z
This one feels like basically a sure thing: “Umbrella” is one of Rihanna’s earliest and most enduring hits, and one that a majority of the stadium, regardless of team affiliation, will know. Plus, it begs for some fun choreography and a real spectacle. They could both wear galoshes!
Rihanna - ROCKSTAR 101 ft. Slash
OK, so this one’s a little bit biased; this writer really, really wants to hear “Rockstar 101.” But seriously, this would (along with a “FourFiveSeconds” performance), a Slash appearance feels like a potential bridge between age gaps in the fan section, a la “look guys, even Grandpa’s getting into it!”
6. Calvin Harris
Rihanna - We Found Love ft. Calvin Harris
In some ways, Calvin Harris makes the perfect celebrity shot—somehow a part of two of her most hype, most enduring club tracks (“We Found Love” and “Where Have You Been”), a guest slot that requires him to do pretty little. Plus for an artist like Harris, this likely translates as a “why not grab the opportunity” type moment.
Eminem - Love The Way You Lie ft. Rihanna
Imagine it: Eminem at the Super Bowl twice in two years? In 2023? Bonus points if this potential performance somehow incorporates Megan Fox and Dominic Monaghan into the choreography (and cools it a little bit on the domestic-violence romanticization). In this day and age, we all need to be reminded sometimes of just why they call it “window-PANE.”
8. DJ Khaled
DJ Khaled - Wild Thoughts (Official Video) ft. Rihanna, Bryson Tiller
If eight minutes of DJ Khaled to close out the Grammys didn’t wet your “we the best” whistle, this prediction is for you! The last song Rihanna performed live was “Wild Thoughts” at the 2018 Grammys—returning with the exact same track and collaborator would be a sly troll that still employs one of her more recent radio hits. I mean if she’s really going to insist on avoiding Anti…
9. Mikkey Ekko
Rihanna - Stay ft. Mikky Ekko
No offense, but what else does he have going on?
10. Bryson Tiller
Again (and especially if “Wild Thoughts” is on the menu): what else does he have going on?
10. Paul McCartney
Rihanna, Kanye West, Paul McCartney - FourFiveSeconds
Given the all-but-certainty that Kanye West won’t be included in the show, Paul McCartney would be a very cute appearance (and “FourFiveSeconds” is a very sweet song). There’s certain to be at least one quieter moment, and this song is easygoing and emphatic in all the right ways.
11. Parris Goebel
Rihanna - Savage Fenty Show 2019 | Choreo by Parris Goebel - Live Performance Full HD
Although New Zealand choreographer Parris Goebel isn’t a musical performer, she’s choreographed all three of Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty Fashion shows (not to mention the masterpiece that is Justin Bieber’s “Sorry” music video), establishing herself as the second-most recognizable member of the Fenty enterprise. It’s easy to picture Goebel at the lead of an army of dancers, and not a stretch to imagine them on a Super Bowl stage—Goebel also choreographed Jennifer Lopez and Shakira’s 2020 halftime show, the most popular halftime show in history. Rih has a perfect opportunity in front of her to put a backstage powerhouse at the center of the spotlight for once.
12. No one
The Call Pepsi Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show OFFICIAL TRAILER
Last year’s half-time show was an all-star tribute to West Coast hip-hop where the collaborators couldn’t stop coming—read: pretty damn hard to top. For Rihanna to go this show alone, and focus on creating a spectacle that places her hits and voice in the center, would be a bold (and frankly, unlikely) choice. Call it her wild card!
13. Some way, somehow, a Savage x Fenty set
Savage X Fenty Show Vol. 2 – Official Trailer I Prime Video
Just because she’s getting back to the music doesn’t mean she’s all the way back. This is Rihanna, after all—for a pop empress in today’s thoroughly modern world, cross-promotion isn’t something to fumble.
Super Bowl LVI airs live from Glendale, Arizona’s State Farm Stadium this Sunday, February 12, at 6:30 P.M. E.T.
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