Rihanna’s Super Bowl halftime show performance is just days away. On Thursday, the musical superstar joined Apple Music’s Nadeska Alexis to discuss the upcoming performance, and without revealing too many details about what’s to come, she shared that there were “39 versions” of her 13-minute set.
“The setlist was the biggest challenge. That was the hardest, hardest part, deciding how to maximize 13 minutes but also celebrate,” Rihanna told a crowd of reporters. “That’s what this show is going to be. It’s going to be a celebration of my catalog in the best way we could have put it together.”
She added, “You’re trying to cram 17 years of work into 13 minutes, so it’s difficult. Some songs we had to lose because of that, and that’s going to be okay, but I think we did a pretty good job of narrowing it down. There are probably about 39 versions of the setlist right now.”
Rihanna explained that she was taking charge of even the tiniest tweaks to the performance to make sure it is perfect come showtime. “Every time I make a change, something has to be updated, and that’s the new version,” she said.
Rihanna also took the opportunity to vaguely and briefly touch on her current approach to making music, though she didn’t address whether a new album is on the way.
“Musically, I’m feeling open,” she said. “I’m feeling open to exploring, discovering, and creating things that are new. Things that are different. Things that are off. Weird. Might not ever make sense to my fans. I just want to play. I want to have fun. I want to have fun with music.”
The Barbados-born songstress also teased that the show will be an uplifting celebration of her Caribbean roots and Black women.
“That’s a big part of why this is important for me to do this show: representation. Representing for immigrants. Representing for Black women everywhere. That’s key for people to see the possibilities,” she said. “It’s a long way from home, right? It’s a beautiful journey that I’m on. I could have never guessed that I would have made it here, so it’s a celebration of that. I’m really excited to have Barbados on the Super Bowl stage.”
Super Bowl LVII marks the first where Apple Music serves as the main sponsor for the halftime show after the sponsorship was owned by Pepsi for a decade. Last year, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, and Kendrick Lamar were tasked with representing L.A. hip-hop at SoFi Stadium.