Rihanna is about to join an exclusive club: the women who headlined the Super Bowl halftime show. By that, we mean they were the only headliner (or they co-starred with another female solo star – J.Lo and Shakira have to be in there). We’re not counting women who were part of a halftime set – which would have brought many more women, from Broadway legend Carol Channing and soprano Marguerite Piazza in 1970 (the fourth Super Bowl) to Mary J. Blige at the all-star hip-hop celebration earlier this year.
Being invited to headline the Super Bowl halftime show is one of the main signifiers of stardom in contemporary pop culture. So much depends on the selection – including millions of advertising dollars – which is done with great care. If they put an artist on that stage even a year or two too early – or just as bad, too late – the show won’t hit the numbers it needs to hit.
Rihanna, of course, has been one of pop music’s top hitmakers since landing her first hit, “Pon De Replay,” in 2005. She was just 17 when the song became her first. top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100. She has amassed 14 No. 1 hits on that chart, two No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200, and won nine Grammy Awards, among many other honors. Even so, she’s still young enough (34) that you get the feeling that some of her greatest triumphs may still be ahead of her.
Here are the female superstars who headlined the Super Bowl halftime show.