Since the announcement was made that Rihanna is performing the Super Bowl half-time show, questions have swirled regarding what it means for the artist.
Is she finally, after seven years of no live performances, making a comeback with a new tour, single or album?
The Barbadian pop star answered these questions as soon as she stepped on to the stage of the State Farm Stadium on Sunday night in the US state of Arizona.
She was dressed in a red jumpsuit, proudly showcasing her small baby bump and second pregnancy, leading us to believe that, chances are, the half-time show is likely a one off-event.
That distinct lack of pressure made her performance fun enough but ultimately flat.
Super Bowl half-time shows are often meticulous affairs, from the stage design to the carefully curated theme.
Last year, Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg celebrated Los Angeles' role as an epicentre of hip-hop culture, while in 2021, The Weeknd conjured the dystopian vibes of his stellar album After Hours through a mammoth backdrop of a neon-lit city skyline and hundreds of masked doppelgangers.
Rihanna’s show lacked a basic theme and was essentially a 15-minute mega-mix of her greatest hits.
Not that there is anything inherently wrong with that.
Hearing them back to back, you realise how ubiquitous her presence was on the charts.
From the electro-fuelled opener [...] Better Have My Money and the slinky reggae and RnB fusion of Rude Boy to the EDM euphoria of We Found Love and Only Girl (In the World), it's clear Rihanna's success is down to her distinct vocal style — at once inviting and dispassionate — nimble enough to embrace various styles and rhythms.
Too bad that rich material didn’t result in a more dynamic production.
Surrounded by a phalanx of white hooded dancers, Rihanna and crew performed in a series of undulating stages that really didn’t add anything visually.
The choreography was tight and frenetic, as expected, but there was no method to the mayhem.
It was slick and professional but it felt like a performance more suited for an awards show than the Super Bowl, one of America's biggest TV events of the year.
In her only official comment prior to the show, Rihanna promised “a jam-packed” performance.
While certainly delivering the hits, her Super Bowl half-time show will go down as a missed opportunity.