Rihanna’s musical homecoming happens Feb. 12 at the Super Bowl halftime show, and the anticipation is building. Will she debut new music before then or only perform her greatest hits? Cabrini University students want it all.
“I’ll be fine with whatever, I’m just happy that she’s performing,” music industry and communication major Savana Harrison said. “If she does bless us with [new music], then I’m happy. But if not, then that’s fine.”
Where has she been?
The billionaire beauty mogul has overtaken makeup, modeling, and mom-ing. Her fanbase stayed loyal despite her six-year hiatus from music by supporting her other businesses.
She launched Fenty Beauty in 2017 with a shocking 40 diverse foundation shades. It’s credited with promoting inclusivity in makeup brands. Fenty Beauty made $550 million in revenue in its first year, making Rihanna the wealthiest female musician.
“Love her … Love Fenty Beauty,” Harrison said. After her success in makeup, Rihanna started her lingerie brand, SavageXFenty, in 2018. Her fans started to lose hope in her musical return.
“I feel like the Super Bowl will bring back everything she used to do,” sophomore English major Abby McClatchy said. McClatchy hopes this performance will bring Rihanna back to music, but doesn’t expect her to release a new project before the show.
“Everybody thought she was never making music again because she wants to do makeup and all that stuff. So, it’s gonna be fun to have her do the show,” Harrison said.
Harrison wants Rihanna’s performance to go through each era of her music, starting with her 2005 debut single, “Pon de Replay,” and ending with “Consideration (feat. SZA)” from her 2016 album, “Anti.”
If Rihanna were to collaborate with another artist during the show, McClatchy “would love for it to be Drake.” Her favorite Rihanna song is “Work (feat. Drake),” which also appears on “Anti.”
Responsibility to social causes
“This is just the icing on the cake,” Dr. Stephen Grieco said. Grieco is an associate professor of music and advises the presenting organization, XMusica Society, at Cabrini. He believes the Super Bowl halftime show is the biggest stage for U.S. entertainment, so the message it sends is also important.
Rihanna declined to perform at the 2019 halftime show in support of former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick. Kaepernick “took a knee” during the national anthem in a 2016 preseason game, a move many believe led to his being blocklisted from the NFL. The 2019 Super Bowl averaged about 98 million viewers, its lowest viewership in a decade.
The NFL partnered with Roc Nation that same year, allowing rapper and music mogul Jay-Z to recruit halftime performers. The partnership also allows him to guide the NFL’s community outreach and social justice awareness programs. Rihanna is signed to Roc Nation.
“They’re really hitting it with Rihanna,” McClatchy said. “So many people love Rihanna, and she has a voice that would influence people, especially at a place where everyone’s watching.”
“I don’t even know when it’s happening, but I’mma be on Twitter and if they say that it’s live, then I’mma go on it,” Harrison said. Over 190 million people are expected to watch the 2023 Super Bowl live this year. Using that platform to promote good causes is common, but not always expected.
“She’s got so many humanitarian causes she’s with and promotes,” Greico said. “How [is she] gonna use that megaphone in this large event to actually do something good with it?”
Rihanna’s charity work rivals her business success. It extends from individual support to starting a climate justice organization in 2012 called the Clara Lionel Foundation. She received the Peter J. Gomes Humanitarian Award from Harvard University in 2017 to commemorate her contributions to breast cancer treatments.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Grieco said. The Super Bowl streams on the Fox network on Feb. 12 at 6:30 p.m.