If Rihanna Songs Were About Football, Ranked
10:38 AM EST on February 9, 2023
On Feb. 12, Rihanna will break her years-long live performance fast and take the halftime show stage at the Super Bowl. For the average Rihanna fan, the topic brings up questions related to surprise guests, or the likelihood of a new album, or a potential future tour, or wait a second—didn’t she say she wasn’t gonna do that? But for the Rihanna fan who is vibrating at a higher frequency, the topic brings up one question alone: What would the titles of a selection of Rihanna songs be if all of those songs were about football?
Now that the question has taken over your mind, we can answer it. Below is a selection of 14 Rihanna songs ranked from worst to best, based on how good of a job I did at turning the song title into being about football.
This one is supposed to be “Work.” You probably thought it was supposed to be “Stay.” Well, it’s not. If Rihanna called the song “Work, Work, Work, Work, Work,” the football version might rank higher (“Sack, Sack, Sack, Sack, Sack”), but that is not the reality in which we live.
13. “Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy on the Brain (Scan)”
I know you’re not happy about it, but I hope you understand that it had to be done.
12. “Take a Ball”
This one is terrible.
11. “Throw It Better”
Just barely better than “Take a Ball,” but with a touch of inspiration that gives one hope for the rest of the list.
10. “Rude Waterboy”
Here’s why this one works: you can really imagine a rude waterboy, and the challenges a rude waterboy might bring to the team to which he supplies water. Water being intentionally spilled, players having to be on the receiving end of a bad vibe right before their big moment. That’s what makes this song title special, and actually a little better than what Rihanna had originally.
9. “What’s My Game? (Football)”
Of course in Europe it would have to be “What’s My Game? (American Football).”
8. “Only Defensive End (On the Outside of the Defensive Line)”
This one doesn’t exactly fit the meter, but I don’t think that takes much away from its brilliance. You can kind of imagine her singing it. Want you to make me feel ... like I'm the only de-fen-sive-endontheoutsideofthedefensiveline …
7. “Pon de Instant Replay”
Ummm, I think “Pon de Replay” already works??? That’s you objecting to this song title in your whiniest voice. Uh, yeah “Pon de Replay” already works. But we aren’t here to merely accept a title that “already works.” We’re here to improve each title through brute mental strength. “Pon de Instant Replay” is the result of hard work and dedication. You should examine what hides within you that would accept “Pon de Replay” as a final answer; I assure you it is ugly.
“Pon de Free Play” would also work.
6. “Shut Up and Drive Block”
This one is kind of like the “watchmaker analogy” of a football-themed Rihanna song. Makes you think—there’s gotta be somebody out there who intelligently designed this.
5. “Running Back Better Have My Running”
Well, he better.
4. “Please Don’t Spike the Football”
“Please” isn’t in Rihanna’s title, but I made the artistic decision to include it in the football title because it is more polite.
It would take someone with a lot more actual football knowledge that I possess to build the lyrics for this one out from the title. The best I could do would be to plug in what Google tells me a 4-3 defense is—like if you can imagine Rihanna singing this: It’s a 4-3 defense with linemen ... four line-men three line-back-ers. Not that inspired, but to give myself the appropriate amount of credit, I think the new football title is really good and that it gives the eventual football songwriter a lot to work with.
2. “Love the Way You Hike”
Can you imagine football players singing this to each other after a game? So sweet, oh my god. My heart can barely take it.
WOOOOOOOOO! That’s everyone reading this. They’re all standing and applauding. Everyone is rushing toward me, screaming—How did you think of this one?? Everyone is crying and yelling, and I totally get it. “Fumble-rella” is remarkable. And if you learn one thing from me and Rihanna today I hope it’s this: There is no limit to your creativity. If you set your mind to it, I’m positive that you, too, could think of a Rihanna football-themed parody not as good as, but certainly approaching “Fumble-rella.” And that’s ultimately what football is all about.
Thank you so much, and please enjoy the “Superbowlia” (that’s if “Disturbia” were about football).
Kelly Conaboy is a writer in Brooklyn, New York. Her first book, The Particulars of Peter, is available now.
Stay in touch
Sign up for our free newsletter