Rihanna was above it all.
She began and ended the Super Bowl 57 halftime show hovering high above the field at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The performance delivered on fan expectations but it included a major surprise — the singer is pregnant with her second child.
She wore a puffy, bright red jumpsuit with tight, rubbery garb underneath as she stood on a transparent rectangular platform that raised and lowered as she belted out the lyrics to “Bitch Better Have My Money” over the turf where the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs were battling moments earlier.
Dancers wearing white ski-style suits and shaded goggles had their own suspended platforms that moved in concert with hers.
She and the dancers were lowered to a long stage that matched her outfit as she sped through hits including “Work,” “Where Have You Been,” and “Only Girl,” belting out “Want you to make me feel like I’m the only girl in the world.”
There were none of the instant costume changes, scene shifts or surprise guest appearances that have been a constant at other Super Bowl halftimes. (Her set included songs that were studio collaborations with Drake and Ye, but neither suddenly showed up.)
The theme — and the color scheme — stayed the same throughout the 13-minute show, with red lights bathing the stage at times and golden fireworks exploding in the air above her.
The long stage allowed for extended pull-away shots as she stared down the camera and overhead tracking shots of Rihanna and her dancers.
At one point she powdered her face and checked it in a mirror before getting back on the mic.
Lights sparkled from the stands as she was hoisted alone back into the air and sang “Diamonds” — with its refrain of “shine bright like a diamond” — as the set closed.
Rihanna’s performance was her first live event in years, and her first since becoming a mother nine months ago.
A SIMPLY SPANGLED BANNER
Country star Chris Stapleton made the national anthem a simple affair at Super Bowl 57, standing alone on the field accompanied by only his electric guitar as he sang “The Star Spangled Banner” moments before the Kansas City Chiefs kickoff to the Philadelphia Eagles to start the game.
Dressed simply in smooth black denim and sunglasses, with neatly combed hair instead of his signature feathered cowboy hat, he sang the anthem as a plaintive ballad, picking it up to rock only briefly as he delivered the final lines “banner yet wave” and “land of the free!”
His anthem felt slow, but it clocked in at 2 minutes, 2 seconds, under the 2 minutes, 5 seconds predicted by oddsmakers. But it was more than 10 seconds longer than last year’s sung by another country star, Mickey Guyton.
Eagles coach Nick Sirianni and starting center Jason Kelce both had tears in their eyes during Stapleton’s emotional performance.
As the eight-time Grammy winner sang, “CODA” star Troy Kotsur, the first deaf man to win an acting Oscar, signed the anthem lyrics.
Before Stapleton’s anthem, “Abbot Elementary” star Sheryl Lee Ralph performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”
Wearing a flowing red velvet gown, Ralph began the song dubbed the Black national anthem as a reflective ballad, and it became a soaring hymn as it went on, with military-style drums joining her and a choir dressed all in white chiming in behind her on the field at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
And R&B legend Babyface delivered “America the Beautiful” as a soulful folk song, playing an acoustic guitar painted with an American flag and blue flowers as he stood alone on the field. A backing track with drum machines and singers kicked in before he was done.
FAMOUS FANS, PERFORMERS AND PITCH PEOPLE
Die-hard Chiefs fan Paul Rudd was on the field before the game, sporting a big smile and a team jersey.
Philadelphia native Bradley Cooper, wearing an Eagles T-shirt, celebrated from the stands as his team put the game’s first points on the board. Another famous Philly fan, Kevin Hart, wearing a jersey, stood and flapped his arms.
Jay-Z, Tiffany Haddish, rapper GloRilla and chef Gordon Ramsay were also spotted in the stadium.
Pregame performances came from DJ Snake and Jason Derulo, whose backup dancers included synchronized robot dogs.
Many stars have made the scene at Super Bowl week parties.
And many others, including Serena Williams, Adam Driver and John Travolta, are showing up in the big game’s big commercials.