Why did Rihanna decline to perform in the Super Bowl halftime show in 2019?
Not only will it be her first performance, in more than five years when she performs at Super Bowl LVII, but it will also mark a reversal in her previous stance on the NFL.
On February 12th, pop superstar Rihanna will take the stage at the Super Bowl LVII to headline the halftime show. Yes, the Philadelphia Eagles will also be taking on the Kansas City Chiefs at State Farm Stadium, but we’re not hear for that are we. Rihanna’s decision to accept the NFL’s offer to perform comes in sharp contrast to the reasons behind her refusal back in 2019. Let’s have a look at why that is.
Why is Rihanna performing in Super Bowl LVII?
In what will be her first live performance in seven years, Rihanna is set to headline a star-studded line up for the hugely famous Halftime Show of this year’s Super Bowl. Adding more weight to the moment, is the fact that Rihanna only became a mother a few months ago, after giving birth to her first child, a son she has with partner and fellow artist A$AP Rocky. Indeed, it’s something she says is part of the reason she chose to perform.
“I gave birth three months ago. I say to myself ‘Are you sure you can do this?’ [...] I haven’t been on stage in seven years, but it’s important for me to be on stage this year,” the singer said during a press conference with Apple Music, sponsor of the Halftime Show. “It’s important to me, for my son to see it... For the performance [...] You run for 13 minutes. You will see it on Sunday, since it begins, it never ends. Until the last second. Takes all the energy from your body,” she added. Interestingly, the 34-year-old Barbadian native also spoke of the difficulties involved in condensing her entire catalog - 17 years in the making - into a 13-minute performance. “It will be a celebration of my catalog; it is difficult to celebrate 17 years of career in approximately 13 minutes. There are currently 39 different versions of the setlist,” she said.
Why did Rihanna refuse to perform at the Super Bowl in 2019?
Though the above may seem all hunky dory, it’s not that long ago that Rihanna had a completely different view of the NFL itself. Indeed, the Savage x Fenty owner famously rejected the league’s offer to perform at the Halftime Show in 2019. At the time, RiRi as she is known to fans, made it clear that she was standing in solidarity with then 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. The now blacklisted signal caller began an individual campaign of taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem at games, in protest of police brutality and racial inequality in the United States.
During an interview with Vogue, Rihanna stood firm on her views of Kaepernick and why she simply couldn’t go along with the NFL’s plan. “I couldn’t bring myself to do that,” Rihanna told the magazine in 2019. “For what? Who wins with that? Not my people. It just couldn’t be a sellout. I couldn’t be a facilitator. There are things within that organization that I don’t agree with at all, and I was not willing to go and serve them in any way,” she said. Ultimately, it was Maroon 5 that headlined the show at Super Bowl LIII, with Travis Scott and Big Boi also joining in. It’s interesting to note that all of them were questioned and heavily criticized for accepting the offer.