Why Rihanna is exactly the right choice for the 2023 Super Bowl halftime show in Arizona

Ending almost three entire days of speculation on the interwebs that Taylor Swift could headline halftime when Super Bowl 2023 hits State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Rihanna took to Instagram on Sunday, her tattooed hand holding an NFL football aloft in a wordless post that said it all.

Minutes later, the NFL, Apple Music (the halftime show's new sponsor) and Roc Nation confirmed that Rihanna had, in fact, agreed to headline the Super Bowl LVII halftime show on Feb. 12 in Arizona.

Rihanna an inspired choice, and this is the second time the NFL has offered her the gig. She turned it down in 2019 in support of Colin Kaepernick and his role in social justice protests.

We called it: Who should play the halftime show when Super Bowl 2023 returns to Arizona?

Rihanna: The biggest pop star of her generation?

International icon, entrepreneur and philanthropist Rihanna will take center stage at the Super Bowl LVII halftime show.
International icon, entrepreneur and philanthropist Rihanna will take center stage at the Super Bowl LVII halftime show.

Rihanna is such a great choice that in February, when we did a story headlined "Who should play the halftime show when Super Bowl 2023 returns to Arizona?," she was on the short list.

We're pleased to see the NFL has taken our advice.

Named the wealthiest woman in music by Forbes magazine in 2021, Rihanna is perhaps the biggest pop star of her generation with dozens of massive hit singles that could turn up in that halftime show.

She has topped the Billboard Hot 100 14 times, from 2006's "SOS" to 2016's "Work," a Drake collaboration that could mean a Drake appearance at the Super Bowl.

Almost: Did Taylor Swift turn down the 2023 Super Bowl halftime show in Arizona?

Think of the potential cameos at a Rihanna halftime show

The opportunities for cameos are endless, from Jay-Z on "Umbrella" to Britney Spears on "S&M" (although it may hard to get that past the NFL).

There's also Calvin Harris on "We Found Love" or maybe even Kanye West and Paul McCartney on "FourFiveSeconds."

And you know McCartney would be down for it.

She also has two huge chart-topping hits with Eminem that could come into play ("Love the Way You Lie" and "The Monster").

Other giant hits at Rihanna's disposal include "Take a Bow," "Disturbia," "Rude Boy," "Only Girl (in the World)" and "Diamonds," all of which hit No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100.

Jay-Z calls Rihanna 'a generational talent

Jay-Z called her "a generational talent" in the NFL announcement and he's right. She is.

He also called her "a woman of humble beginnings who has surpassed expectations at every turn" and "a person born on the small island of Barbados who became one of the most prominent artists ever."

We detect no lies in any of what Jay-Z had to say.

We haven't heard much from Rihanna on the music front since 2016, the year her latest album, "Anti," hit the streets. She been featured on collaborations with Future, DJ Khaled, Kendrick Lamar, N.E.R.D. and PartyNextDoor since then.

This would be the perfect way to announce her return to the spotlight — perhaps in advance of a tour?

She hasn't toured since 2016, when the Anti World Tour hit what was then called Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix.

Review: The hits kept coming when Rihanna brought her Anti World Tour to Phoenix

3 reasons why Rihanna is a natural for Super Bowl 2023 halftime

The approach she took to squeezing in as many hits as possible in that performance marked her as a natural for the kind of set that seems to work so well at halftime.

She kept things moving, offering fans at least a taste of more than 20 songs in a set that often felt like one extended suite as one song bled into the next – a medley here, a mashup there.

She also brought plenty of showmanship, charisma and spectacle to the proceedings, emerging in a hooded cloak at the back of the arena to open the concert with “Stay,” before riding a floating catwalk to the main stage.

She's also an excellent singer who's been dogged by accusations that she lip-syncs live. But accusing a halftime performer of lip-syncing is practically a Super Bowl tradition.

Rockists of a certain age will not be happy with this choice. But they'd have hated any choice that wasn't making records in the '70s (or doing all they could to sound like they were making records in the '70s).

Reach the reporter at ed.masley@arizonarepublic.com or 602-444-4495. Follow him on Twitter @EdMasley.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Rihanna is absolutely the best choice for Super Bowl 2023 halftime