That’s your lot. That one team won. That other team didn’t. But the real talking point was the return of Rihanna who arrived on-stage with big news. Twitter wasn’t quite sure what to make of it and politely speculated but her rep announced that she was in fact pregnant, jubilant news except for those who were expecting a new album tonight.
The star made a relaxed return to the spotlight with a reminder of her stellar back catalogue but it wasn’t quite the burst of energy we’ve come to expect from this particular stage. Regardless, it’s a pleasure to see her performing again.
Ad-wise, too many celebrities and not enough memorable moments and also a strange or perhaps telling rise in gambling spots. Right, off to go listen to Rihanna’s old music (since we don’t seem to be getting anything new for a while).
And here’s our review of Rihanna’s big half-time show:
It’s been quite the journey for the Scream franchise in the last decade and change. The fourth instalment was such a box office flub that an entire planned trilogy was canned, leading to the slasher moving to television for a series that barely anyone even knew existed. After that was rebooted to even lesser fanfare and rights moved to Paramount, it was then announced that it would return to the big screen, a move seen as predictable in the current oversaturated horror landscape yet unnecessary. But last year’s Scream then became a surprise smash, making $140m worldwide and electrifying a new, younger fanbase, and so we’re now at a place where Scream VI is being given the full blockbuster treatment: 3D and 4DX screenings, a bloated two hour plus runtime, countless teaser posters and that big game spot. It shows us a bit more of what we’ve seen already: the gang is now in New York, fan favourite Hayden Panettiere is back and there’s a precarious extended setpiece involving a ladder. New York, new rules, new franchise to run into the ground.
Popeyes Meme Kid, all grown up
Ten years ago, Dieunerst Collin became internet famous for looking sideways, skeptical and confused, while waiting outside a Popeyes in New Jersey. Now the Popeyes Meme Kid is all grown up and getting paid for his viral fame via a Super Bowl ad for the chain restaurant, in which he drives a fancy (electric) car and hangs out with some puppies.
Stoners unite for easy-reach lighters
Arguably the two most famous marijuana enthusiasts in America, Willie Nelson and Snoop Dogg, come together (via FaceTime) for their preferred BIC EZ Reach lighter. Nelson notes that it’s ideal for lighting candles, specifically a scented candle nicked from one Martha Stewart, who also pops into the call.
The Sanders family football reunion
Former NFL and baseball star Deion Sanders and his sons return in the name of Oikos protein-loaded yogurt, this time with the strength of the extended family.
John Cena sings about paying rent
John Cena is happy, in a Pharrell-esque way, singing and dancing in the street about the joy that is paying rent via Experian. Something something FICO score, there’s a purple cow, John Cena does choreography!
Snoop Dogg slips into Skechers
Snoop Dogg prefers Skechers slip-ins, it seems, for everything from performing to coaching youth football (with Tony Romo as quarterback) to posting up in the Oval Office with his veep (?), longtime friend/foil Martha Stewart.
John Travolta’s T-Mobile musical
John Travolta joins forces with Scrubs stars Zach Braff and Donald Faison for a musical number in honor of T-Mobile’s home internet prices, to the tune of Grease’s Summer Nights (RIP, Olivia Newton-John).
DoorDash says yes, chef
Celebrity chef Matty Matheson (also seen on last summer’s breakout show The Bear) links up with Wu-tang Clan’s Raekwon The Chef and the Nickelodeon character Tiny Chef to advise a woman on her groceries. (According to Matheson, you need to smell the butt of a pineapple to know that it’s ripe.)
Melissa McCarthy goes on vacation
For Booking.com, Melissa McCarthy sings a number that sounds vaguely musical theater about going “somewhere, anywhere” (as long as there’s childcare).
Sarah McLachlan sings for the (wild) animals
The standard “Busch guy” – a graying man in the woods – gets unlikely assistance on listing survival skills for the Great Outdoors from Sarah McLachlan, poking fun at her famously tear-jerking ASCPA ads in the name of outdoor (not animal) shelter.
And finally, the review she’s been waiting for:
Ads have been selling for $7m this year which means that big stars and big stunts have been rolling out to make sure they land as expected.
“Having an ad in the Super Bowl is very high pressure,” says Scott Bell, chief creative officer of the advertising company Droga5, from their office in New York City. “It’s the one thing you do when you know everyone is going to talk about it and have an opinion. The rest of the year, nobody cares. For the Super Bowl, everybody cares!”
Here’s more on the process from idea to ad:
The real rock stars
Software vendor Workday, Inc recruited an all-star roster of musicians – Ozzy Osbourne, Joan Jett, Billy Idol, Gary Clark Jr and Paul Stanley – to prevent corporate types from calling their desk-bound coworkers “rock stars” ever again.
Kia’s Binky Dad
A non-celeb dad drives his Kia Telluride X-Pro into viral and cable news fame while on a quest to retrieve his baby’s forgotten, favorite pacifier.
Here’s that cursed image we mentioned (apologies for what will happen seven days after you’ve seen this):
While there are congratulations in order for Rihanna, there’s also this …
Twitter was busy speculating about a possible baby bump during Rihanna’s performance but … nervously. Now her rep has confirmed that she did bring a special guest to the Super Bowl stage and that was her unborn baby!
More details soon…
Random celebrity Rihanna reviews!
Mr Peanut gets roasted
In honor of Planters’ dry roasted nuts, the famous Mr Peanut submits to a Comedy Central-style roast. “We can all agree that there’s rich, and then there’s haven’t worn pants in a hundred years rich,” says one, which is an unexpected point.
Okay so not new but this is pretty fantastic marketing:
Miles Teller dances for Bud Light
Top Gun star Miles Teller shows off his silly dancing skills (as in, the ability to faux moonwalk while holding a beer can and his bulldog, which is admittedly charming) as he and wife Keleigh Sperry wait on hold for a customer service call.
Walter and Jesse break good
It’s a Breaking Bad reunion in the name of PopCorners, Frito-Lay’s low-ish calorie popped corn snack, which Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul) declares “bomb.” Walter White (Bryan Cranston) advises “we don’t eat our own supply” and dealer Tuco Salamanca (Raymond Cruz) demands a full seven flavors.
Ben Affleck and Matt Damon back together after 2021’s cruelly under-seen The Last Duel to tell the story of how Nike’s Air Jordans changed a number of games. It has a nice old-fashioned robustness to it, from its starry cast to its underdog narrative and should prove to be a nice early summer treat when it hits cinemas in April.
This … can’t be good:
This is rather charming:
More complete, and more official, videos on the way but here’s a look at how it all started:
Some more shots here of Rihanna’s extravagant half-time performance:
And as is so often with Super Bowl performances, it’s over before it’s really begun. A quick zip through some of her greatest hits although with some sure-to-be-debated omissions (it was never going to be comprehensive). It’s a thrill to see her return although new music appears to not be part of the return just yet…
Umbrella is next (with no Jay Z to be seen even though he is in attendance) and Rihanna’s outfit seems to have got bigger. There are fireworks in the sky, rather than rain thankfully, and we are moving swiftly on to Diamonds.
The crowd has turned into a sea of diamonds aka lights and Rihanna has been lifted off the ground again on her moving platform. We get a better look at the structure and it looks like, well, a nightmare for the insurers to say the last…
After a dancer offers her the opportunity to re-do her make-up (a moment that feels like an instant meme), it’s on to All of the Lights and a look back at the impressive staging which seems to be increasing by the moment.
Run This Town is next and a band suddenly appears behind her. Is a special guest appearing soon? It certainly feels like it would make sense around now…
Wild Thoughts is next and followed by an incredible aerial shot of her dancers all doing the splits upside down. For the next song, her dancers continue to showcase moves that require intimidating flexibility. Rihanna might not be following them exactly (how could she even sing as well?) but she is giving it a lot.
Rude Boy next with Rihanna in control of her large assembly of dancers and with suggestive moves that might shock some of the easily offended conservative Fox viewers (expect some right-wing hand-wringing later tonight)
She moves quickly on to some of her uptempo club favourites – Where Have You Been to Only Girl in the World to, yes, We Found Love. Arguably her greatest song, it turns the stadium into a dancefloor with her backing dancers all perfectly in formation.
It’s a pretty undeniable moment of euphoria.
Rihanna is here
After what felt like an unending first half or whatever it’s called, Rihanna is finally here! Enough with the ludicrously well-paid kicking and the grunting, we now get to experience the main event, the star’s first live music performance for five years.
It kicks off with the star already standing, a fakeout non-dramatic entrance when the camera then pans back to show her on a FLOATING PLATFORM surrounded by other floating platforms with dancers.
First song is Bitch, Better Have My Money with the star in total, thrilling ownership of the stadium.
The third instalment in one of the only current franchises that’s yet to put a foot wrong, Creed III brings star Michael B Jordan behind the camera, acting as both lead and director. He’s up against Jonathan Majors, also on bad guy duty in Ant-Man 3 this season, and early word suggests test screenings have been going remarkably well. There’s no Stallone this time around, and early word also suggests he’s not best pleased about that, but hopes are high for another knockout.
Sam Adams imagines a brighter Boston
Your Cousin From Boston, the usual Super Bowl mascot for Boston-based Sam Adams, spends a commercial imagining a cheerier version of the city in honor of its “brighter” lager. A Red Sox fan hugging a Yankees fan, Kevin Garnett spreading love instead of trash talk, mobsters recycling – it’s only in a dream.
Jennifer Coolidge gets sticky for e.l.f.
Jennifer Coolidge re-teams with The White Lotus creator/writer Mike White for cosmetics brand e.l.f., whose primer is so dewy it makes her feel like she came from the sea. More specifically, like “a dolphin…like a baby dolphin.” And with that, in a way only Coolidge can, she signs off with a baby dolphin squeak.
Stop playing sports please
Jack Harlow takes the triangle viral
Inspired by the shapes of a single Doritos chip, Jack Harlow tries a new style: enthusiastically playing the music class triangle, more cowbell style. He rattles the metal shape to screaming fans, tells Missy Elliott he’s “gotta do me,” releases a Triangle cologne and brings his new angle to the masses but – spoiler alert – loses the award for Triangle Player of the Year to one Elton John.
Maya Rudolph’s candy-coated clams
Inspired by M&Ms, Maya Rudolph has pitched her bite-sized candy alternative: candy-coated clams, called Ma&Ya’s, which is…exactly what it sounds. Enthusiasm isn’t high, but Maya’s popularity remains strong – good enough to replace the extremely politicized “spokescandies.”
Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania
Technically not a trailer for the latest Marvel release Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania but a branded tie-in, this brief, nay pointless, spot sees Paul Rudd’s miniature superhero feel judged for drinking a beer by an actual ant. But it turns out his bottle of Heineken is actually of the zero alcohol variety which, if the ant had actually tried it, would actually be reason for more judgment…
Pringles cans stuck on hands
A grandfather imparts important wisdom to his young grandson: even the best of us get their hands stuck in Pringles cans, from surgeons to judges to singer Meghan Trainor.
Hamm and Brie and Hellman’s mayo
(Jon) Hamm and Brie (Larson) find themselves stuck in a fridge next to Hellman’s classic mayonnaise – the perfect ingredients for a savory panini made by Pete Davidson, who “really is everywhere,” as Hamm points out.
Danny McBride has a Downy alter ego
Danny McBride was so moved by Downy’s Unstoppable detergent that he has assumed an alter ego – Downy McBride, a fresh-smelling clothing evangelist who shoots detergent out of T-shirt guns at his neighbors.
Amy Schumer and Doja Cat edit their photos
By “edit,” I mean “alter” – as in, Amy Schumer uses her Google Pixel 7 phone to erase all her exes from old photos. Doja Cat, basketball star Giannis Antetokounmpo, and several non-celebs also get in on the digital memory-revising game, fixing bad fashion, poor framing and blurry photos.
Adele is this liveblog rn:
Another Super Bowl survivor sends their support:
Diddy jingles for Uber One
Enlisted by Uber Eats to craft “One Hit for Uber One” Diddy sets aside his reluctance for jingles to audition versions of Montell Jordan’s This is How We Do It, Donna Lewis’s I Love You Always Forever, Ylvis’s What Does the Fox Say? and Haddaway’s What is Love? for food delivery. Example, from Kelis: “Your milkshakes cost way less than before / this membership is better than yours.”
Celebs are Super Bowling as per usual. Here’s this year’s random assortment in attendance:
Will Ferrell brings EVs to Netflix
General Motors has apparently partnered with Netflix to promote electric vehicles by putting them in more shows. Will Ferrell test runs the idea through several concepts, including a Walking Dead-esque zombie show (good escape car), Bridgerton (not applicable), Squid Game (filled with poison gas) and Stranger Things (not believable).
Steve Martin acts for Pepsi Zero Sugar
It’s an actor’s job “to make people believe that what they’re seeing is real,” says Steve Martin as he dons a variety of roles – confident doctor, frustrated bank customer, gloating board game winner. And more dubiously, a satisfied consumer of a non-sugar Pepsi.
No Super Bowl SNL this week (although last weekend’s Pedro Pascal episode did feature this hilarious ad for wings that feels adjacent) so no new Tostinos skit. We’ll have to make do by rewatching this instead:
Adam Driver finds the singularity
In an appropriately weird and faux-serious ad for Squarespace, Adam Driver ponders that it’s a website that makes other websites until he self-multiplies his way into a black hole.
Finally, the superhero film that we thought might never come out seems as if it is actually coming out. Thanks to the increasingly worrying and menacing behaviour of star Ezra Miller, The Flash had been surrounded with question marks. Would it get re-edited? Would it be recast? Would it be thrown away? But with the actor seeking help for their problems, the DC publicity machine is in full flow and our, ahem, flashy first look is now here. As we already knew, it’s a film heavily in debt to the most recent Spider-Man movie, bringing together Batmans past and present but whether people are ready to forgive Miller and make it an equal-sized hit remains to be seen.
Logan Roy vs Serena Williams
Brian Cox (aka Succession’s gruff patriarch Logan Roy) faces off against Serena Williams in a golf tournament for Michelob Ultra. A Super Bowl ad simply cannot let a classic Logan Roy “fuck off!” fly, but we at least get a good “cut that off!” to some fan dancing and one thrown golf club. Serena wins, with a little help from former NFL QB Tony Romo and his particularly thunderous cracking open of a beer.
Sylvester Stallone climbs Paramount Mountain
The lesser streaming service Paramount Plus is sticking with its “mountain of entertainment” tagline, and this year including the so-called Stallone Face – a Rushmore-like stone visage of Rocky himself. The only person to climb it is, of course, the star of Paramount’s Tulsa King, who gets sneezed off as Dora the Explorer, Beavis and Butthead, and his daughters Sophia, Scarlet and Sistine look on.
Bradley Cooper and his mom can’t film a commercial
Noted Philadelphia Eagles fan Bradley Cooper and his mom, Gloria Campano, attempted to film a commercial for T-Mobile – and could barely stick to the teleprompter. Cooper may know what he’s doing (“I’ve been nominated nine times,” he says) but, as Gloria reminds in the line of the night, “you’ve never won any.”
Ben Stiller’s Zoolander tries Pepsi Zero Sugar
Like Steve Martin, Ben Stiller is also applying his acting talents to Pepsi Zero Sugar – in character as Derek Zoolander, who flashes his signature blue steel and declares the drink “really, really ridiculously good tasting.”
A Clueless reunion
Alicia Silverstone dons the famous plaid yellow suit, drops an “as if!” and reunites with costar Elisa Donovan for a Clueless reunion in the name of e-commerce company Rakuten (featuring designer Christian Siriano).
Serena Williams goes Inch by Inch
For the cognac brand Rémy Martin, the tennis star espouses the power of teamwork, inch by inch – a nod to Al Pacino’s motivational speech in the film Any Given Sunday.
Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny
A closer look here at Harrison Ford and his creepily de-aged face for the new Indiana Jones movie, a sequel hoping to undo the damage that Kingdom of the Crystal Skull allegedly did (*whispers* it really wasn’t that bad). We also get more of new villain Mads Mikkelsen and sidekick Phoebe Waller-Bridge. But can a Spielberg-free Indiana Jones (from James Mangold) do the job?
Kevin Hart disrupts a party for DraftKings
The comedian shouts out DraftKings’ free bet promotion by disrupting a star-studded watch party and mashing together reactions with the names of Big Papi, Ludacris, Tony Hawk and others.
Ben Affleck actually works at Dunkin Donuts
Those photos of Ben Affleck working at a Dunkin Donuts drive thru? Those were a side effect of his Super Bowl ad, in which the most Boston man / iced coffee king took several orders from real customers – and one order (a glazed donut) from his wife / Dunkin convert Jennifer Lopez.
Anna Faris eats avocados from Mexico
In this version of the story by a group called Avocados from Mexico (?), Anna Faris’s Eve and a hot, shirtless, dimwitted Adam are saved from a life of sin by a talking rodent and, naturally, a bite of an avocado. Their utopia: a totally nude, avocado-filled New York, no clothes necessary.
The 10th Fast and Furious film (11th if we’re counting spin-off Hobbs and Shaw) is also the fifth most expensive film ever made, with reports suggesting a budget of $340m, not too shabby given how the series was seen as dead in the water way back when. It’s now it’s one of the most extravagant franchises we have with the 10th adding Brie Larson, Jason Momoa and Rita Moreno (!) to join returning cast members such as Helen Mirren, Charlize Theron and Cardi B, and the novelty this time around is that it’ll be the first F&F film to feature electric cars. Other than that our first real look shows more of the same: gravitationally impossible stunts, gravelly voiced threats and more talk of the importance of family than an episode of Love Island.
Remember when Netflix surprise dropped The Cloverfield Paradox after the Super Bowl and it was absolutely punishingly terrible?
Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume Three
One of the Marvel franchises that still carries some intrigue to those mostly turned off by Marvel Franchises in general, the Guardians of the Galaxy are returning for a third chapter from new DC head James Gunn. But since the first Guardians, so many other Marvel films have tried to emulate its irreverent style and use of old music and so, this just ends up looking more of the same rather than something distinctive and offbeat. We’ll have to wait and see.
Chris Stapleton’s bluesy national anthem
Sporting shades and a single electric guitar, country star Chris Stapleton delivered a soulful, gravelly rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner. It’s a surprisingly emotional, somewhat understated version of a song that’s often performed as a soaring ballad, and it brought several men in shoulder pads to tears.
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts
With Paramount riding high still from the success of the jumpstarted Scream and Top Gun franchises, it makes natural sense that the studio’s biggest ever series would return. From the looks of this new tease of the new Transformers film, the next chapter appears to be closer to Bumblebee, the spin-off that didn’t make much money but found its audience over time. It stars Anthony Ramos in what seems to be a more contained character-led story, which given the wild excess of the franchise’s lowest moments, is not a bad thing.
Babyface’s America the Beautiful
Following up on Ralph’s performance of the Black national anthem, R&B star Babyface (aka Kenneth Edmonds) sang America the Beautiful, accompanied by a stars and stripes guitar and a member of the Navajo Nation, Colin Denny, as an ASL interpreter.
Rihanna will be getting a ton of celeb support tonight but pre-game, she’s already been sent well wishes by 2021’s half-time star Shakira:
Sheryl Lee Ralph kicks off the music
The music has at least begun! Sheryl Lee Ralph, the Emmy and Tony-winning Abbott Elementary star (this game does include the Philadelphia Eagles, though we won’t talk about it here), has kicked off the musical performances for the evening with a rousing rendition of Lift Every Voice and Sing, aka the Black National Anthem.
It’s turning out to be a big old year for four-beers-in B-movies, as shown already by M3gan and Plane, and later this month with the self-explanatory Cocaine Bear but a few weeks after that, we’ll get the great pleasure of watching the often rather self-serious Adam Driver tackle dinosaurs in the nutso-looking thriller 65. He plays a pilot who crash-lands on Earth but somehow it’s 65 million years ago so things go south real fast. Please let him punch a dinosaur in the face, please.
Janelle Monae: ready
Perhaps the best ad of the night might not be a Super Bowl ad but an ad for the Super Bowl? This Apple Music/Rihanna tease will take some beating:
Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
The resurgence in popularity of Dungeons and Dragons, and role-playing board games in general, meant that a tussle broke out over who owned the rights to bring it to screen with Paramount ultimately winning out. It’s not the first time someone has tried although for those who endured 2000’s reviled adaptation starring Jeremy Irons and Thora Birch, they might choose to pretend that it is. This one looks to be very much made from the Guardians of the Galaxy template – old rock music, raucous tone, wink-wink humour – which has, admittedly, started to get a little tired in recent years but the presence of Hugh Grant is enough to keep one at least mildly curious.
What exactly can we expect from Rihanna’s big performance tonight? The star has been predictably mysterious about it all but she has teased that it’s come at an important time for her and for representation at large. Here’s more:
While those chaps play those other chaps to win that thing, attention over here is aimed at all of the non-football happenings of the day. There’ll be a ton of celebrity-fronted ads, a string of exciting new trailers and the main reason we’re all feeling giddy today: Rihanna.
The historic hit-maker (she became the fastest woman to score 10 number ones and is only trailed by Elvis, Mariah and The Beatles for overall chart-toppers) will be using the most-watched stage in the country to make one hell of a return to the spotlight (her first on-stage musical appearance since 2018). There’s been a seemingly endless wait for her new album and tonight might offer either new music or a vague idea of when new music is coming. Even if it doesn’t, seeing the star sing her greatest hits will be enough to satiate. Stay tuned.