Rihanna Says Super Bowl Setlist Changed 39 Times, Teases ‘Weird’ New Music: ‘It Might Not Ever Make Sense to My Fans’

Rihanna Super Bowl
Christopher Polk

Rihanna’s highly anticipated Super Bowl halftime show will mark her return to the live music stage for the first time in nearly seven years. How is the global pop icon feeling about it? “It feels like [playing the Super Bowl] could have only been now,” she said during an Apple Music press conference ahead of the big show.

“When I first got the call to do it again this year I was like, ‘Are you sure? I’m three months postpartum. Should I be making major decisions like this right now? I might regret this,’” Rihanna said. “When you become a mom there’s something that happens where you feel like you can take on the world and can do anything. The Super Bowl is one of the biggest stages in the world. As scary as it was, because I haven’t been on stage in seven years, there’s something exhilarating about the challenge of it all. It’s important for me to do this year. It’s important for my son to see that.”

Rihanna said the biggest challenge in creating her Super Bowl halftime show has been nailing down a setlist. The show will run 13 minutes, but Rihanna has a career that spans eight albums and 17 years. Cramming all of that material into 13 minutes has been “difficult,” she said.

“Some songs we have to lose because of that, and that’s going to be okay,” Rihanna continued. “We did a pretty good job at narrowing it down. There’s probably been about 39 versions of the setlist right now. We’re on our 39th. Every little change counts.”

Rihanna said her Caribbean culture will certainly be a huge part of the halftime performance, adding, “That’s a big part of why it’s important for me to do this show. Representing for my country, Barbados. Representing for Black women everywhere. That’s really important.”

Fans have been wondering if Rihanna’s Super Bowl show will mark a new era of music for her. The singer has not put out an album since 2016’s “Anti,” and her only major single since then was the ballad “Lift Me Up” from the “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” soundtrack. Rihanna is Oscar-nominated this year for the song.

“Musically I’m feeling open,” Rihanna teased about new music. “I’m feeling open to exploring, discovering, creating things that are new, things that are different, things that are off, weird. Might not ever make sense to my fans… I want to have fun with music.”

Watch Rihanna’s full Apple Music press conference in the video below. The Super Bowl airs Sunday, Feb. 12 on Fox.

From Variety US