June 6, 2023
Analysis: This year’s Super Bowl halftime show is sure to score with Rihanna | CNN

Analysis: This year’s Super Bowl halftime show is sure to score with Rihanna | CNN

A version of this story appeared in Pop Life Chronicles, CNN’s weekly entertainment newsletter. To get it in your inbox, sign up for free here.


There’s nothing bigger happening this week than Super Bowl LVII, and by that I mean the halftime show.

This issue is all about the big event and the countdown to Rihanna, who’s set to give her first live public performance in some five years.

You are welcome.

Rihanna attends the British Fashion Awards on December 2, 2019 in London.

Two football teams are playing on Sunday or whatever.

Sorry, but I am not a major football fan so you will have to look someplace else for those details. But when it comes to Rihanna, I’ve got you.

She’s the featured performer for the halftime show this year and given that we still don’t have a new album from her seven years after she released “Anti,” I plan on treating this like a concert.

When Rihanna posted a Super Bowl teaser last month, she gave us what has come to be her brand: fashion, hit songs and cheekiness — as she struts towards the camera, a montage of audio snippets play bemoaning the lack of new music from her. The ad then features a clip from her 2016 song, “Needed Me” in which she sings, “You needed me.” I’m not disputing that!

I’m ready for all of the classics — and any of the surprises she wants to bring. There is the opportunity for her to give us one of the greatest halftime shows ever.

Speaking of the greatest, let me stir up some mess by ranking the four best halftime shows of years past.

This is my totally subjective opinion and in no particular order:

Bruno Mars performs during the Super Bowl XLVIII halftime show on February 2, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Bruno Mars brought it in 2014 at Super Bowl XLVIII.

That should be a shock to no one, of course, given that he’s been performing since he was a child, and as an Elvis impersonator no less. He just keeps getting better.

His halftime show was high-energy and even brought out the Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

(This is not to be confused with Super Bowl 50 in 2016, when he and Beyoncé appeared as featured performers alongside Coldplay.)

Beyoncé performs during the Super Bowl XLVII halftime show on February 3, 2013 in New Orleans.

And yes, she makes it into my list in her own right: Beyoncé reigned supreme at Super Bowl XLVII in 2013, and gave us all what we craved by bringing the other members of Destiny’s Child too. Let’s not forget their entrances as they literally popped up on stage.

Here’s where I both beg for a Destiny’s Child reunion and lament that I have not yet secured my “Renaissance” tour tickets. But I digress.

Queen Bey only delivers the best of the best and her halftime show was no different.

Michael Jackson performs during the Super Bowl XXVII halftime show on January 31, 1993 in Pasadena, California.

Michael Jackson performed during Super Bowl XXVII in 1993, and the reaction was exactly what one would expect given he was the biggest superstar in the world at the time.

His appearance came two years after New Kids on the Block performed during halftime, marking a departure from what had most often been marching bands offering the entertainment in previous years.

Jackson’s performance was meant to increase interest in the halftime show concept and it definitely set the bar.

Prince performs during the Super Bowl XLI halftime show on February 4, 2007 in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Of course, it rained on the man who blessed us with “Purple Rain.”

When Prince took on the halftime show at Super Bowl XLI in 2007, he brought the house down with his musicality and hits.

I’ve said it so many times before, but there will never be another Prince and I will forever miss him. I’m sure this doesn’t shock you given that this newsletter is named Pop Life.

Are there any of your favorite shows that I’ve missed?

Music by any of the artists mentioned above. Seriously, what are you waiting for? Get to jamming!

The Super Bowl halftime show, because duh! And maybe some of the big game, I suppose — or at least the commercials.

Special note: Some of you spoke and I listened! Starting this week and moving forward I will return to ending the newsletter with one of my Instagram posts.

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