The Bajan pop star is getting ready to perform at the Super Bow Halftime Show for the first time, and anticipations are building. The Super Bowl show is one of the biggest sporting events on the planet and one of the biggest entertainment events worldwide, with only the biggest of the biggest getting the honors of performing.
While Rihanna and her team worked on the production for the event, sports commentator Stephen A. Smith fumbled an opportunity to comment on the planned performance and immediately got backlash for it. While on Sherri Shepherd’s daytime talk show Sherri, Smith didn’t hold back his feelings about RiRi. While admitting that Rihanna is fantastic, Smith made the mistake of suggesting she is not on Beyonce’s level.
“Ladies and gentlemen, she’s a lot of things,” he said as you heard the audience react in disagreement. “She’s spectacular, actually. And congratulations on new-momma-hood. There’s one thing she’s not. She ain’t Beyoncé.”
He added that he brought up Beyonce’s name because the singer recently performed at the Super Bowl Halftime Show and nailed it. Talk show host Shepherd pushed back, saying that Beyonce had her time and now it’s time for Rihanna to shine.
The backlash from Rihanna fans, aka the Navy, was swift, forcing Stephen A. Smith to issue a video apology on Twitter, admitting that his statement was in poor taste.
“I saw some headline that’s circulating all over the place about my quote that Rihanna ain’t Beyoncé,” Smith said in a clip where he was sitting in a car. “See, you know I’m gonna own it. I know what y’all trying to do. But I’m going to own it because I get paid to speak for a living, so I need to be more careful. I want Rihanna to know: You’re a superstar. You’re sensational. You’re spectacular. You’re no joke and you are a worthy person to be doing the Super Bowl halftime show.”
Apologies to Rihanna for my words, gotta be more careful! pic.twitter.com/RLcsaQAJ4v
— Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) January 18, 2023
Smith added that he certainly did not intend to disrespect Rihanna in any way but believed that Queen Bey’s performance in 2016 set a new standard for every other artist performing at the Super Bowl Halftime Show, not just RiRi
“Michael Jackson could still be alive and I would say, ‘It’s gotta measure up to that,'” he said. “I meant it as no disrespect to Rihanna. I know she’s phenomenal… And she’s my sister. Nothing but love for her. But Beyoncé is my sister, too. I got love for both of them.”
Rihanna nor Beyonce have not responded to the controversy, but sources say Jay-Z is helping RiRi with the production after she expressed nervousness ahead of the show.