Global music superstar Rihanna, the nine-time Grammy winner and one-time (current) Oscar nominee, is heading up the Super Bowl LVII Halftime Show that originates this Sunday from State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona and televised on Fox. And by the way, in case you haven’t heard much form Rihanna (pronounced Ree-yawn-uh) lately, it’s because she hasn’t come out with an album since 2016 or appeared live since 2018, when she performed DJ Khaled’s “Wild Thoughts” at the Grammys.
In fact, the Barbadian singer’s most visible work since she hit her 30’s (she turns 35 on February 20) has been lending a hand and voice to the song “Lift Me Up” from “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” which landed her the Academy Award bid along with Tems, Ryan Coogler and Ludwig Goransson (with lyrics by Tems and Coogler). The tune is presently tied for second in the Gold Derby combined odds for Best Original Song with “Hold My Hand” from “Top Gun: Maverick” (both are at 4/1) and trails “Naatu Naatu” from “RRR” (which already won at both the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards and remains the prohibitive Oscar favorite).
Will centering what is annually the highest-profile entertainment showcase in existence, poised to be seen by a majority of Oscar voters along with tens of millions of others in America, make a difference in giving Rihanna’s song’s nomination a boost some 2 1/2 weeks before Academy Awards voting commences? It certainly couldn’t hurt. And if things go according to recent form, the halftime show could also generate an Emmy nomination and win for live variety special (as the 2022 show headlined by rap/hip-hop superstars Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar did).
Not that Rihanna necessarily needs the accolades. She’s doing just fine without either an Oscar or an Emmy. She’s had 14 songs reach the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and boasts eight albums that have gone platinum. She has also sold more than 250 million records worldwide, making her the second-best-selling female musical artist of all time. Who’s number one? Glad I asked. It’s actually Madonna with sales of 300 million. Following Madonna and Rihanna, Mariah Carey is third at 220 million, with Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Whitney Houston and Celine Dion tied for fourth at 200 million. Rounding out the top 10 are Barbra Streisand (150 million), Katy Perry (143 million) and Lady Gaga (124 million).
In terms of the Super Bowl, Rihanna joins an iconic list of past halftime musical performers that also includes The Weeknd, Jennifer Lopez and Shakira, Lady Gaga, U2, Beyonce, Bruno Mars, Katy Perry, Bruce Springsteen, the Rolling Stones, Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake, Michael Jackson and Prince.
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