Marking her third appearance on "Saturday Night Live," Rihannaproved that the third time's a charm when the pop titan took over the Studio 8H stage on Saturday for a pair of eye-popping performance sets during the Eli Manning-hosted episode.
Standing before an oversized crystallized spider web in the middle of the black-lit stage, Rihanna began her first number with the buzzing sounds of "Birthday Cake." It was a surprising song selection that momentarily suggested the possibility of an onstage reunion with birthday boy Chris Brown, but "Cake" ended quickly, instead leading into a medley of her tune "Talk That Talk."
'SNL,' put your hands together like this," she told the crowd.
With her backup dancers on hand, Rih kept the performance straightforward, offering viewers some simple shakes, pelvis thrusts and plenty of swag. One complaint was with the echo effect that was added to her microphone, which made the singer's vocal sound shaky at times.
However, any issues with the opening number were soon forgotten when the pop star took to the stage for her follow-up performance of her brand-new single, "Where Have You Been." Fronting an Arabian-themed backdrop and human props, Rihanna threw on a fierce game face and danced her way through the track with steady energy. It was a welcome change to see the Barbadian singer show off some footwork.
Unfortunately, the episode ended without any mention of "Shy Ronnie," her first digital short, or any Rihanna-featured skits at all, even though "SNL" head honcho Lorne Michaels had told reporters on Wednesday that he was trying to work out the details on incorporating Rihanna into the sketch lineup.
Shy Ronnie may have not made an appearance, but Saturday's gig was the perfect vehicle to promote her just-released single as well as her big-screen acting debut in the summer flick "Battleship," which hits theaters May 18.