Our lineup for an alternate Super Bowl show Rihanna could headline

Shine bright like a diamond, as counter-programming.
Shine bright like a diamond, as counter-programming.
Image: AP Photo/Vianney Le Caer/Invision
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Rihanna reportedly could have performed at next year’s Super Bowl halftime show, one of the most-watched events in television, but said no. According to Us Weekly, Rihanna turned down the opportunity to show her support for Colin Kaepernick, the former NFL quarterback who has says he has been blacklisted by the league for spearheading the players’ movement to kneel during the national anthem. (Kaepernick sought to spotlight police brutality and racial inequality in the US.)

“They offered it to her, but she said no because of the kneeling controversy. She doesn’t agree with the NFL’s stance,” Us Weekly quoted a source as saying. Or as Vulture put it, “Bitch better keep your money!”

No Rihanna, but viewers will get Maroon 5. Yet it doesn’t mean the world should be deprived of a dazzling RiRi performance on Feb. 4, 2019, which is Super Bowl Sunday. A New York Magazine contributing editor suggests an alternate half-time show, featuring stars who have expressed their support for Kaepernick.

The proposal from the novelist and writer is smart, considering the advertising potential around Kaepernick, and could also make for a spectacular 30-minute concert.

Here’s one proposal for what the line-up for such a show could look like:


Rihanna, of course, could lead the show. At a half hour, Super Bowl Sunday slot would gives the seven artists in this list maybe one song each, with room for Rihanna to headline and perform at least two (or maybe a shorter medley of four).

The Barbados-born star has been outspoken about racial inequality, whether that’s offering to play a free concert in Baltimore after Freddie Gray was killed by police, or even in the truly inclusive design of her Fenty Beauty line.


Shawn Carter is a long-time supporter of Kaepernick and would be sure to draw eyes (especially if he brought Beyoncé). In 2017, Jay-Z appeared on Saturday Night Live wearing a custom NFL jersey, with a number seven on the front and “COLIN K” on the back.

Earlier last year, Jay-Z dedicated a song to Kaepernick during a concert at Citi Field in New York, and he reportedly turned down a chance to perform at the Super Bowl. too. (Lyrics from “APES**T”—his hit song with Beyoncé—include the lines: “I said no to the Super Bowl, you need me, I don’t need you.”) Jay-Z also called Kaepernick an “iconic figure” in an interview with CNN this year.

John Legend

John Legend publicized his support for the NFL players’ protests by penning an op-ed for Slate. “The kneeling players are asking America to do better on criminal justice. If I could, I’d take a knee and join them,” Legend wrote. In another show of solidarity, the popular singer songwriter has also been kneeling during his concerts.

Stevie Wonder

During a performance at the Global Citizens concert in New York last year, Stevie Wonder made it clear where he stood—or knelt. After an impassioned speech against hate and bigotry, Wonder and son Kwame Morris made their move. “Tonight, I’m taking a knee for America,” Wonder said. “But not just one knee—I’m taking both knees.”

Pearl Jam

American rock band Pearl Jam has never played at the Super Bowl (even though some think they should). Eddie Vedder and the band have also been outspoken about supporting Kaepernick and “everyone’s constitutional right to stand up, sit down, or #takeaknee for equality.”

J. Cole

J. Cole, a Grammy Award nominee with five number-one albums, has taken to social media to state his support for the NFL players’ approach. He also understands the power of shifting viewers’ eyes away from the NFL. In a Twitter thread last year, Cole pointed out that not watching games NFL would deprive the league of advertising money, and “boycotting sponsors who don’t support the cause” could also make an impact. He has also praised Kaepernick’s resolute stand in interviews.

Roger Waters

Roger Waters is a founding member of Pink Floyd, is known for speaking out on political issues, and will likely help rev up buzz for an alternate halftime show. In fact, in the first half of 2018 alone, Waters generated $60.7 million in tour earnings, as baby-boomer rockers still draw big crowds. After a concert in Connecticut last year, Waters took the knee for one minute with his band.