Rihanna On Cramming “17 Years of Work Into 13 Minutes” For Super Bowl LVII

The singer reveals she created 39 different setlists for her halftime performance.

If football isn’t your thing, here’s something else to be hyped up about this Super Bowl Sunday: Rihanna’s halftime setlist went under 39 revisions — and she’s still making minor tweaks and changes. Speaking with Apple Music ahead of her big performance, RiRi dished on how she’s jamming “17 years of work into 13 minutes” while also paying homage to her Caribbean roots.

“Deciding how to maximize 13 minutes but also celebrate” was the most challenging part, the “Umbrella” singer admitted, per Billboard.

“It’s gonna be a celebration of my catalog in the best way that we could have put it together,” she continued. “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.”

Rihanna said it took several drafts to get her setlist where it is today. Thirty-nine versions to be exact.

“There were probably about 39 versions of the setlist right now. We’re on our 39th. Every little change counts, whether I want a guitar cut out, something muted, something added or just put in a whole new song, or take out a whole song,” she explained.

While Rihanna is set on giving her fans the performance of a lifetime (it has been seven years since she last took to a stage, mind you), she’s equally, if not more, thrilled for the representation she will be bringing to music’s biggest stage.

“I’m really excited to have Barbados on the Super Bowl stage,” she said. For Rihanna, it’s more about “representing for immigrants, representing for my country, Barbados, representing for Black women everywhere” than anything else.

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Anything else apart from her newborn, of course. In May 2022, she and A$AP Rocky welcomed their first child together. The Super Bowl Halftime Show will be her son’s first time seeing mommy on stage, a special moment Rihanna isn’t taking for granted.

“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 said.

However, Rihanna does have some qualms about the “immense” physical endurance the show requires.

As we’ve learned from previous Super Bowl halftime performers, it’s taxing on the body — let alone on someone who welcomed a baby less than a year prior. But as she stated, Rihanna doesn’t shy away from a challenge.

“You’re just running around for 13 minutes, trying to put like a two-hour set for 13 minutes,” Rihanna said, putting the monstrosity of the job into perspective.

Still, she had to leave fans with a cliffhanger: “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 Super Bowl kicks off this Sunday, Feb. 12th at 6:30 p.m. EST.

Emily Weaver
Emily is a NYC-based freelance entertainment and lifestyle writer — though, she’ll never pass up the opportunity to talk about women’s health and sports (she thrives during the Olympics). Read more
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