Who needs Taylor Swift? Not even a full day after people in the know explained that the arcane series of coincidences that seemed to imply that Swift would be headlining next year’s Super Bowl Halftime were nothing more than a series of regular coincidences and that Swift had no interest in singing about football until after she has completed her prolonged “fuck you” to Scooter Braun and Big machine Records, Rihanna has just gone ahead and announced the actual headliner: Herself.
Rihanna subtly teased the news earlier this morning with an Instagram photo of a football—specifically an NFL football—which either meant that she would be coming out of retirement to play for Tampa Bay or that she was going to play the Super Bowl Halftime Show. It turned out to be the latter, with Variety saying that Roc Nation has confirmed that Rihanna will indeed be headlining the biggest football-related music event of the year in 2023.
Interestingly, Rihanna hasn’t released a new album since 2016, so this seems like a hint that she’s working on something (though not necessarily, since the Super Bowl is usually just an outlet for a greatest hits medley anyway). Also interestingly, Rihanna was previously offered a chance to headline the 2019 Super Bowl Halftime Show, but she declined it as a show of support for quarterback Colin Kaepernick and how he was effectively pushed out of the NFL for daring to (silently) speak up against police violence.
In addition to having Rihanna, this will be the first Super Bowl Halftime Show since 2013 that will not be sponsored by Pepsi, with Apple stepping in to take its place. (Apple at the Super Bowl? As if that would ever make a confusing-yet-iconic impression on the general public.) Last year’s performers—Eminem, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Kendrick Lamar, and 50 Cent—all won Emmys for their show, so this could be Rihanna’s chance to get on a potential EGOT track (she only has the obvious one right now) if she plays this right.