Breaking down Super Bowl entertainment from Chris Stapleton to pregnant Rihanna

WTOP's Jason Fraley breaks down Super Bowl entertainment (Part 1)

The Kansas City Chiefs went down to the wire with the Philadelphia Eagles but ultimately emerged Super Bowl champions again on Sunday night in Glendale, Arizona.

For non-football fans — or those who pride themselves on being well-rounded — there was also plenty of great music entertainment of every kind surrounding the big game.

Fans of the ABC sitcom “Abbott Elementary” enjoyed Emmy Award winner Sheryl Lee Ralph kicking off the night with the civil rights anthem “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

She was followed by 12-time Grammy-winning R&B icon Babyface, who strummed a patriotic red, white and blue guitar during “America the Beautiful.”

Oscar winner Troy Kotsur (“CODA”) provided American Sign Language for country superstar Chris Stapleton’s smooth southern-fried rendition of the National Anthem.

It all culminated with Rihanna belting her hits at the halftime show, along with a surprise pregnancy reveal, giving new meaning to the phrase “playoff berth.”

Prior to the Super Bowl, Rihanna had teased on a podcast that there would be a surprise guest at halftime — and it was apparently baby number two. She welcomed her first child last May with rapper A$AP Rocky.

Social media exploded with speculation about a “baby bump” under her baggy red outfit, and later in the night, a representative confirmed the pregnancy to The Hollywood Reporter.

Naturally, it affected the halftime performance, but before you complain that her dance moves were limited, I’d like to see you perform pregnant on national television.

Descending from the rafters on a mechanical platform, Rihanna kicked off a flashy set with her 2015 hit “B*tch Better Have My Money.”

The pride of Barbados then launched into the bumping beat of “Only Girl in the World.”

As the 34-year-old moved into “We Found Love,” we heard a snippet of “S&M,” which was probably deemed too risqué as she returned to the delirious dance beat of “We Found Love.”

I’m surprised that she didn’t sing “Shut Up and Drive” and “Don’t Stop the Music,” which would have been tailor-made for a mainstream Super Bowl audience, but I honestly don’t envy whoever had to whittle down a setlist from her insane catalogue of radio hits.

Fans got to hear most of them, including “Work,” “All of the Lights,” “Run This Town” and “Umbrella,” which is probably her best known tune. Jay-Z was present in the stadium, but didn’t take the stage to join her like so many crowded halftime shows in the past.

Paul McCartney was also in attendance, but his Rihanna collaboration “FourFiveSeconds” didn’t make the cut. Instead, to paraphrase The Beatles, it was “Rihanna in the sky with ‘Diamonds'” as fireworks exploded above the stadium to her fitting lyrics, “Shine bright like a diamond.” I can’t think of a better closing song for a sparkling culmination.

In the end, there were obviously a few pregnant pauses, but how cool is it that Rihanna’s second child will someday get to claim that they performed at the Super Bowl?

FUN LOCAL FACT: Back in 2005, Rihanna performed a free concert at City Place Mall (now Ellsworth Place) in Silver Spring, Maryland, before becoming a music superstar.

WTOP's Jason Fraley breaks down Rihanna's Super Bowl entertainment (Part 2) (Jason Fraley)
Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up